Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre
A wonderful way to spend a day
What we say:
An organised day trip to Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre, about 40 km from Phnom Penh, leaves from Lazy Gecko restaurant on the lakeside at 10:00 and usually returns at about 17:00.
It costs $30 per person, which seems steep, but the price includes jeep transport, entry fee, a fantastic Khmer lunch (complete with local booze and, yes, the chance to act like an elderly Cambodian and chew the stimulant out of betel nut roots). But the invaluable thing about taking the Betel Nut trip (instead of hiring your own driver and trekking out there yourself, which is an option) is the guide.
A Cambodian as well as Aussie Barb lead you through the wildlife refuge and bring you to places you could never access on your own, such as on a hike with elephants out to their watering hole. Chhouk, a baby elephant rescued from the jaws of a poacher's trap, limps along with a missing foot. When he's buoyant in the water, he's possibly euphoric and you will get wet with his splashing and spraying. Barb also takes her visitors into the area where the tigers are caged. We know we're getting a special experience anytime we're doing something that would be totally illegal, due to safety concerns, in our home country. Highly recommended.
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