Photo: Within the grounds of the Royal Palace.

Cambodia forum

New Virachey trek

Posted by gregmccann1 on 20/2/2014 at 09:25

I recently completed my 5th trek in Virachey NP and Park Ranger Sou Soukern and I (info in the link provided below) have charted out a new path. In this new route (and this is for the 6-night/7-day Veal Thom Grasslands trek) you'll pass through Veal Thom when you arrive there but you'll camp out in the northern forests at a gorgeous waterfall/swimming hole (photos in the link) called D'dar Poom Chop. It should not add any time -or possibly just one day- to your trek, but it will take you to a truly spectacular remote jungle swimming hole. Only 3 western people (myself included) have ever seen it. I just finished writing up a blog about this trek and the larger conservation project that surrounds it: http://www.travelblog.org/Asia/Cambodia/North/Ratanakiri/blog-826997.html

Schedule in a few extra days in Northeast Cambodia!!!

#1 gregmccann1 has been a member since 28/10/2009. Location: Taiwan. Posts: 182
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Posted by eastwest on 21/2/2014 at 23:30

Hey Greg,

Interesting read and I'm interested to do this 6-day trek with some friends of mine.

Can you elaborate on some of the practical stuff related to this trek? I can/will call the guide but it is probably also useful for readers here if you can write some of that info here

- What is the best time of the year to do this trek? Is end of March good?
- How much does it cost per person? We will be a group of 3
- What sort of gear is needed? Shoes, tent, backpack, water bottle, rain wear, jumper, GPS, compass?
- How easy is it and long will it take to get to the starting point from Phnom Penh and back?
- How difficult is the 6-day trek itself? We are in decent shape and have experience with nature walks/treks but getting older

#2 eastwest has been a member since 17/12/2009. Posts: 778


Posted by gregmccann1 on 22/2/2014 at 07:41

The trek is best done between late November and late April, so you still have plenty of time this year if youwant to do it. It usually works out to about $50 per day per person, or a bit less. I know that's a bit expensive, but when you see the amount of work the guides and porters do you'll see that it's worth it. These are also very poor people and the money they earn in doing these treks helps them out a lot, and most of them have large families.

The Park will supply the hammock that you will sleep in, and they have GPS, compass, water bottles. You'll need a decent pair of walking shoes. I think sneakers are sufficient, as boots can take a long time to dry out when they get wet. The Park will also provide a rain tarp to throw over the hammocks if it does rain. You can bring a thin poncho just in case.

The bus ride from Phnom Penh to Ban Lung takes about 12 hours. It's a long ride and the scenery is not that great, but you can break up the ride with a stop in Kratie on the way back, a pleasant little Mekong River town with some old French villas and dolphins a a deep pool upriver if you're inclined to check them out.

I would say there are 2 difficult days on the trek with some steep hills to walk up, but the guides are extremely helpful and I imagine if there's a particular stretch that's giving you trouble they'd run on ahead, put their pack on the ridge, then come down and help you with yours.

#3 gregmccann1 has been a member since 28/10/2009. Location: Taiwan. Posts: 182
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Posted by gregmccann1 on 24/2/2014 at 08:56

In case you didn't see it on the front page, there's a full Travelfish feature on the Virachey trek and what ecotourists can do to help out:
http://www.travelfish.org/feature/324

#4 gregmccann1 has been a member since 28/10/2009. Location: Taiwan. Posts: 182
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Posted by MADMAC on 24/2/2014 at 20:57

Greg, great blog. Nice photos. Looks like it was an interesting time. My "trekking" days are over, but it looks like you really enjoyed it.

#5 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by gregmccann1 on 25/2/2014 at 01:10

It was wonderful, Madmac. And I think we've already got a couple of ecotourists interested, so hopefully those cameras will be checked soon. They'll have a blast! And I hope to get up to Mukdahan one of these days -beers!

#6 gregmccann1 has been a member since 28/10/2009. Location: Taiwan. Posts: 182
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Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 25/2/2014 at 05:08

Looks cool for hardcore trekking. A bit above my level.

#7 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148

Posted by MADMAC on 25/2/2014 at 05:19

I think if it's not hard core, it's not trekking anymore, it's hiking. Did look interesting, but I am with Leonard here, it wouldn't be for me. I've long since tired of sleeping outdoors and taking a crap in a hole somewhere. But for some people, they like that, which is fine. It sure looks like Greg enjoyed it.

#8 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 25/2/2014 at 05:48

Yeah i like luxury too much when its cheap like in sea. Luxury is paeng mahk in the west so gotta enjoy it in sea.

#9 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148

Posted by gregmccann1 on 25/2/2014 at 08:19

One thing I don't enjoy is taking a crap near the villages, because when the pigs see you wander off into the brush they know what you're doing and they come for the goods -sometimes before you're finished. It's disgusting and I made sure that I did not have to take a crap in either of the villages this time around.

I'm wondering how many multi-day/week treks remain in Mainland Southeast Asia. Some big ones in Huai Kha Kaeng but apparently the Park chief is afraid that some parts of the interior are dangerous due to poachers and drug smugglers -same goes for the interior of Kaeng Krachan National Park, where there is a 15-day trek to a border peak called Khao Nga Nik Yuak Dong. I imagine there are a couple of epic treks to be had in Cambodia's Cardamom Mountains, and maybe something down in Taman Negara in Malaysia.

I'm probably going to be starting a new camera-trapping project this summer down in Khlong Saeng Wildlife Sanctuary (adjacent to Khao Sok NP) in Thailand this summer. Winters in Cambodia and summers in Thailand -until it drives my wife insane.

#10 gregmccann1 has been a member since 28/10/2009. Location: Taiwan. Posts: 182
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Posted by MADMAC on 25/2/2014 at 11:57

I'll bet you could do some serious trekking in Chaiyaphum province too. Very rugged there, but great scenery.

#11 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by gregmccann1 on 27/2/2014 at 08:52

Chaiyaphum is now on my list!

#12 gregmccann1 has been a member since 28/10/2009. Location: Taiwan. Posts: 182
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Posted by MADMAC on 27/2/2014 at 10:33

I have a feeling you'd like it. I did, and I don't even like nature.

#13 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by gregmccann1 on 1/3/2014 at 22:51

I just posted a copy of the Preliminary Trip Report (minus the GPS locations of the cameras) on our Web site: http://habitatid.org/?p=7205 We are really looking forward to doing more with ecotourism to promote conservation in the park. More to come!

#14 gregmccann1 has been a member since 28/10/2009. Location: Taiwan. Posts: 182
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Posted by gregmccann1 on 6/3/2014 at 08:42

I just published a blog post with Mongabay.com about the potential for ecotourists to help out with maintaining camera-traps and furthering the conservation cause in Virachey NP and beyond: http://blog.mongabay.com/2014/03/06/camera-trap-ecotourism-the-next-big-thing-in-conservation/

Here's hoping that ecotourists have a damn good time and that we find lots of wild animals on candid camera!

#15 gregmccann1 has been a member since 28/10/2009. Location: Taiwan. Posts: 182
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Posted by eastwest on 6/3/2014 at 20:49

Looks good Greg,

I will still do it with my friends but probably much later and not in March. I have to get some practical stuff out of the way first this month.

#16 eastwest has been a member since 17/12/2009. Posts: 778

Posted by MADMAC on 7/3/2014 at 11:30

Word is there are tigers in that forest (Chayapum). It's big, so I'd believe it. Along the stretch between Muk and Sakhon Nakhon it's tougher to believe because the stretch is considerably smaller.

#17 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by gregmccann1 on 29/3/2014 at 15:22

Some early camera-trap results here.

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Posted by gregmccann1 on 10/5/2014 at 08:27

Some more photos from our camera-traps. And there's still a few we haven't posted yet.

#19 gregmccann1 has been a member since 28/10/2009. Location: Taiwan. Posts: 182
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Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 11/5/2014 at 08:54

Great.pics

#20 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148

Posted by gregmccann1 on 12/5/2014 at 10:23

Thanks, Leonard. And, while I'm at it, there's no reason not to share this photo of a Clouded leopard that we got in one of our remote cams.

#21 gregmccann1 has been a member since 28/10/2009. Location: Taiwan. Posts: 182
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Posted by gregmccann1 on 9/6/2014 at 10:41

And yet more info/publicity for Virachey here with an interview that I just did with Mongabay.com

#22 gregmccann1 has been a member since 28/10/2009. Location: Taiwan. Posts: 182
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