Southern Cardamom National Park
Part of one of Southeast Asia’s largest remaining wilderness areas, the densely forested Southern Cardamom Mountains are a refuge for Asian elephants, pileated gibbons, clouded leopards and countless species as yet unknown to science.
Imagine yourself in the heart of the rainforest, with 4,000 square kilometres of wilderness stretching out around you, from Thailand in the west to the Elephant Mountains in the east. Picture yourself spending your nights in a luxurious safari-style lodge on a floating river pontoon, and your days swimming in the Tatai River, kayaking through mangroves, and hiking to remote mountain trailheads. Then, imagine watching the sun go down and the fireflies dance on the water from your private deck, while macaques call to each other in the forest behind. If that sounds like paradise to you, welcome to the Cardamom Mountains.
Southern Cardamom was inscribed as a national park in 2016, making it Cambodia's newest and also one of its largest national parks. It was the final critical piece needed to connect six major national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, forming a massive contiguous mega-protected area spanning a total of over 18,000 sq km. This was to provide a permanent sanctuary for some of the world’s most endangered animals, including some of its last remaining Asian elephants, Indochinese tigers and Asiatic black bears. In total, 27 species found in the Cardamom Range are threatened with extinction — and those are just the ones we know about. Most tantalisingly, the Cardamoms are thought to be home to the world’s most elusive cow, the khiting vor: the only large mammal in the world that is known to exist but has never been sighted.
Outside of Borneo, Cambodia is probably the best place in the whole of Southeast Asia to experience its nature and wildlife, and what we love about the Southern Cardamoms is that you can do so in comfort and style. Though sightings of endangered mammals are exceedingly rare, the jungle is full to bursting with wacky flora and fauna, from carnivorous plants and medicinal herbs to racket-tailed drongos, jewel beetles, gibbons, deer and otters – any of which you might spot on a guided boat trip or nature walk.