Image © Lukas Bergstrom / Creative Commons
Occupying over 3,300 square kilometres of protected area in Stung Treng and Rattanak Kiri provinces bordering Laos and Vietnam, the Virachey National Park protects some of Cambodia’s last pristine rainforests.
The biggest of Cambodia’s seven national parks, Virachey serves as a front line in the battle to save the nation’s precious natural ecosystem and its residents. Asian elephants, sun bears, Sambar deer, great hornbills and Germain’s peacock-pheasants seek shelter amidst the trees, taking advantage of the park’s large swaths of unexplored terrain.
Trekking can be organized from the Virachey National Park Eco-Tourism Information Center in Ban Lung, the capital of Rattanak Kiri. Guided tours of the Park take between two to eight days to complete, depending on the package.
Experienced English-speaking guides can take hikers to natural features like the Phnom Veal Thom grassland and the Chour Preah rapids; or explore the local culture via visits to tribal villages on the park borders, where guests can taste locally brewed rice wine or shop around for handmade crafts.
Expect a hard slog to get here, though – Ban Lung is a twelve-hour bus ride from Phnom Penh, and the park itself is about fifty kilometres’ distance from the town, taking up to five hours to reach in the rainy season.
Elsewhere on the web: The Cambodia Tourism official site explores Virachey National Park and its Community-Based Ecotourism Initiative.