Photo: Within the grounds of the Royal Palace.

Cambodia forum

Big treks in Virachey on offer

Posted by gregmccann1 on 16/2/2015 at 08:28

If anyone is up for a 12-day trek to the Yak Yeuk Grasslands (not to be confused with the popular 7-day Veal Thom Grasslands trek) to help check out camera traps in April, there is quite an adventure in store for you. My organization, Habitat ID, recently launched two camera-trapping expeditions in Virachey this year, with the first group deploying cameras in Yak Yeuk. They found an elephant wallow high in the mountains near Laos, saw a pack of 10 dhole, saw a very rare pangolin (most are caught and sold to Vietnam and China), heard gibbons every morning, saw flocks of hornbills, climbed sacred mountains and swam in secret waterfalls that few outsiders have ever seen. A ranger and a small group of Kavet porters will check the cams before Khmer new year and if anyone wants to join (you'd need to be pretty fit, but not super fit), contact me at: greg.mccann1@gmail.com

As for the second group of cameras that we put out, you can check out the Facebook photo album here (public link), and I've also written up a short report on that expedition here. The trek was beyond belief. We collected Yai Yai (or Tek Tek) -"tropical yeti" dung, have what might be a tiger photo, had barking deer shouting near our camps, spirit-laden dreams, falling trees crashing in the night, plenty of snakes, and, best of all, we made it to the top of the Haling-Halang border mountain, with one foot in Cambodia and the other in Laos, something that has been my dream for years now. The forest surrounding Haling-Halang is primeval, something straight out of Lord of the Rings. It's amazing to know that there are still places like that left in Cambodia, places that are just too far and to expensive (for now) to get to. Virachey is still worth fighting for, despite whatever is happening near the Vietnamese border or in the Siem Pang area. The Park also needs ecotourists to prove that it can generate income, so even if you cannot do that mega trek to Yak Yeuk, the Veal Thom Grasslands are simply sublime (and more beautiful, in my opinion)

The Phnom Penh Post covered our project back in December and we hope to have more press in the coming months. Anything to help get boots on the ground to deter poachers and loggers.

#1 gregmccann1 has been a member since 28/10/2009. Location: Taiwan. Posts: 185
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Posted by Billroy on 16/2/2015 at 16:39

Hi Greg,
I just returned home from Cambodia. I went to Ban Lung and did a three day trek with Do Yok. Was great fun, even though we didn't go into the national park and remained on the tour circuit... And I got dysentery from the rice wine... But learning about the area and then reading some of the articles you contributed in the Phnom Penh post has made me very interested in the area, and I hope that your efforts to promote conservation is successful.

#2 Billroy has been a member since 12/11/2014. Posts: 4

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Posted by gregmccann1 on 16/2/2015 at 20:04

Bill, thanks for mentioning Do Yok. He is by far and away the best minority (Tampuan tribe) guide in Ban Lung. He can speak English, Khmer, Lao, Brao, Kavet, Kreung, and others and he's just the nicest guy you could meet. His web site is: http://minoritytrekadventure.blogspot.tw/

He was also bitten by a cobra last year and he's lucky to be alive, a testament to how strong he is. No amputation and he's walking again. Anyone wanting to trek in the forests outside of Virachey in Ratanakiri should go with Do Yok!

#3 gregmccann1 has been a member since 28/10/2009. Location: Taiwan. Posts: 185
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Posted by gregmccann1 on 16/2/2015 at 21:27

I realized it would be useful if I provided some contact info for the rangers:

Sokhoeun Mao on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sokhoeun.mao.9?fref=ts

Som Sophany on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sophany.som.71?fref=ts

Sou Soukern: +855-0888005924 or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100008188273832&fref=ts

It's actually better to try to contact them directly rather than go through me.

#4 gregmccann1 has been a member since 28/10/2009. Location: Taiwan. Posts: 185
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Posted by gregmccann1 on 23/2/2015 at 06:36

I just uploaded a short video shot from the top of Haling-Halang Mountain that shows what is a natural extension of Virachey NP: Nam Ghong PPA in Laos (not to be confused with Don Amphon NP in Laos). Nobody is allowed in there, no tours, ecotourism, nothing. It's about 100,000 hectares in size (or a bit more) and acts as a natural extension of mountain forest habitat for animals to cross back and forth across the border. One of the reasons that in spite of all the problems and challenges VNP faces I still have hope for the place.

#5 gregmccann1 has been a member since 28/10/2009. Location: Taiwan. Posts: 185
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