Total escape, total bliss
With just seven grass-roofed chalets tucked into the forests along the Tatai River, Rainbow Lodge offers a gentle immersion into the natural world of the Cardamom Mountains and a genuine retreat from whatever stresses you might be hoping to escape.
The only way to get here is by boat, and cruising gently along the palm-lined river, your physical and psychic separation from the outside world has already begun. On arrival, you walk up a rugged path towards the main building which is a broad, open air, thatched sala with comfy chairs and sofas, and completely surrounded by greenery. This is where you can enjoy meals, play games, chill out over a book and a glass of some really lovely and reasonably priced wines, or just enjoy watching the birds that dart in and out of the trees and bamboo around you.
The rooms are arranged in two arcs leading away from the main building, along bamboo walkways. Each one is slightly different, but they all have their own terrace with chairs and a hammock with views on to the hillside opposite (and early morning sunrises). Inside, each terracotta-floored room has a small living area, a very comfortable bed on a raised platform, with mosquito net, and bathroom and shower area. The electricity at Rainbow Lodge is primarily generated by solar power, and for that reason the showers are cold water. If you want warmer water, wait until the afternoon when it will have had a chance to heat up.
The resort is one of the first in the area, and is devoted to understanding and enhancing the natural, social and cultural environment around them. One of their greatest assets is guide Gerard Chartier who spends his life knocking about in the forests around here, spotting wildlife species and trying to identify them. So much of the Cardamom’s biological diversity is completely unrecorded. He leads treks around the rainforest and his enthusiasm for everything around you is infectious — even when he’s talking about spiders.
We went on the night walk, which is a two-hour exploration of the immediate area around the lodge, and is utterly fascinating. We also joined him for the harder, longer medium, dry season trek, and loved every minute, coming across a wealth of butterflies, damsel flies, and dragonflies, spiders (yes, even the spiders), funny looking creatures, bats, and gibbons. We found wild boar tracks as well along one of the old logging routes that crisscross the jungle floor — a sign of how lucky we are that it’s still even there. It’s going to take us years to catalogue all the photographs we took in those hours.
The fitness levels required for their treks will vary. Bring long socks (for the leeches), and appropriate shoes if you’re planning on joining one. They sell socks at the lodge if you don’t have any. If the land doesn’t grab you, they also organise boat trips, canoeing, and more.
If you had been planning on taking things a little more sedately, then you could try out a massage in your room. They were building a secluded, riverside sala when we visited in December 2015, and that should be ready by February 2016. Their masseuse, Fern, has a gift for gently chasing down and working out those knots of tension. They were also initiating a series of yoga retreats when we visited. The resident yoga instructor is also a professional at tantsu massage.
While the tours and massage are charged for — very reasonably compared to what the same level would cost in Siem Reap — virtually everything else is included in the room rate, including breakfast, lunch and dinner, the boat transfers, as well as kayaks and other sporting equipment.
Despite the limitations of location, we found the food here delicious, abundant and creative. Breakfast was a buffet with muesli, Cambodian rice porridge, fruit, eggs, homemade bread, coffee, juices, which we ate all of before heading out on an eight-hour trek. Lunch offers a broader choice from an a la carte menu, including sandwiches, salads, and more, while dinner was a buffet of lemony chicken, fish and pumpkin curry, and an spiced aubergine bake. The menus change regularly, and the cooks’ creativity is actively encouraged by management. We loved it here. Very highly recommended.
Address: Tatai Commune, Koh Kong
T: (012) 160 2585;
Coordinates (for GPS): 103º7'42.09" E, 11º34'46.11" N
See position in Apple or Google Maps: Apple Maps | Google Maps
Room rates: US$75 to 150
What we were quoted as a walk-in.
|Dbl fan private bathroom|
Includes full board.
Nicky Sullivan is an Irish freelance writer (and aspiring photographer). She has lived in England, Ireland, France, Spain and India, but decided that her tribe and heart are in Cambodia, where she has lived since 2007 despite repeated attempts to leave. She dreams of being as tough as Dervla Murphy, but fears there may be a long way to go. She can’t stand whisky for starters. She was a researcher, writer and coordinator for The Angkor Guidebook: Your Essential Companion to the Temples, now one of the best-selling guidebooks to the temples.
Provided by Travelfish partner Agoda.
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