Kirirom is a national park on the road between Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh, on route for anyone coming to Cambodia from Thailand at the Koh Kong crossing. In a country devastated by massive ecological destruction in the 80s and 90s, a visit to Kirirom will give the visitor an idea of what much of the country must have been like before it spiralled into social and political freefall.
It was Sihanouk's personal forest preserve for many years, and later used as a refuge for Khmer Rouge guerillas. These two factors help explain why the forest has emerged more or less unscathed. A paved road brings you into the park proper, leading to a series of dirt roads and walking paths that take you into beautiful deciduous and tropical coniferous forests with minimal undergrowth.
A buddhist monastery and crystal clear ponds can be found at the top of the mountain. Beyond Kirirom, the forest becomes inaccessible and is home to much of the country's remaining population of large fauna, including elephants and tigers. Don't count on seeing any animals, they have learned to avoid human poachers and it is nearly impossible to penetrate deep into the park. Nonetheless, temperatures here are relatively cool all year and the air is fresh and clean.
Some of the waterfalls near the paved road are frequented by Cambodians on weekend visits. Unfortunately, many of these Lexus SUV-borne day visitors have not learned the virtues of bringing out their garbage when they leave. If you avoid these obvious spots, you can find beautiful settings and relatively pristine nature.
Send your feedback or queries to email@example.com