Chi Phat

Chi Phat Koh Kong is located in Koh Kong province, which is in the Southwest of Cambodia. Chi Phat is mainland South East Asia’s largest remaining tract of rainforest situated directly in the heart of the Cardamom Mountains. With mountains, mangroves and low land swamps on the one hand and many cultural artifacts such as burial jars and wooden coffins on the other hand, Chi Phat and its surrounding area has a variety of attractions to offer both to local and international tourists. Tourists can take a walk through the forest trails and meet warm and friendly village people.

Chi Phat’s pioneering community-based ecotourism project, though at press time still a work in progress, gives hardy travellers a unique opportunity to explore the Cardamom ecosystem while contributing in a small way to its protection.

Chi Phat, though hardly the most beautiful village in Cambodia, is an excellent base for a variety of outdoor activities. Visitors can swim in the river, cycle (or take a moto) to several sets of rapids, hike in the forest (perhaps with a former poacher as a guide; US$6 to US$10 per day) and play volleyball with the locals. Monkeys, hornbills and other rainforest creatures can often be seen along the banks of Stung Proat, an unlogged tributary of the Preak Piphot River accessible by boat. According to a village elder, the last time a tiger was seen in these parts was 1975.

Longer-term ecotourism plans for the Chi Phat area call for kayaking, overnight camping, mountain-bike day trips to nearby waterfalls, river excursions on traditional wooden boats, bird- and animal-watching from observation towers and hides, rainforest canopy walks, aerial ziplines through the forest canopy and an elephant rescue centre where visitors will be able to help out. Also on the cards are one- to five-night mountain-bike trips and jungle treks (US$10 to US$30 per person per day) deep into the Cardamoms.