Ream National Park, Sihanoukville

Ream National Park fell under the protection of the Cambodia Government in 1995.

They are taking great care of this Nature Reserve because it is so near to Sihanoukville and the finest beaches in all of Cambodia.

And because it is just so clean compared with most other parts of Cambodia and is home to some of the rarest plants and animals in South East Asia.

No, that sounds like a disparage. The Park is in beautiful shape and the Park Rangers keep the Mangrove Forests like a garden of...well, Mangro Forests.

Only 200 people live in the park and they won't allow anyone else in.

Ream National Park Jungle

Most inhabitants are fishermen so you can see them in the day out gathering their slippery wages.

Other occupants of Ream National Park include the Mangrove Forests, a Mountainside Waterfall, and miles of deserted beaches.

If you are one of those bird-watchers then I can't even imagine you coming to Sihanoukville without visiting the Park. Nearly 200 bird species live here, including a few that are considered endangered and are protected while in the Park.

King cobras and pythons have been spotted, too, so be vigilant. I never saw any but that's what they will tell you.

The millions of travel agents on every corner in Sihanoukville will offer plenty of group trips to Ream National Park. It is cheaper to do it in a group through a travel agent. They will get 6 people into a boat and charge you $6USD per person (People were paying on average $3USD more($9USD)as of July 23rd, 2011.)

But it's easy enough to get there on your own. I didn't want to buddy up with anyone. And I love my freedom so much that these 'Organized Tours' are an affront to my idea of travel.

People don't like me much either. They just don't realize that the best Mosquito Repellent is a week without a shower.

Anyway, I headed out to Prek Toek Sap Ranger's Station ( Park Headquarters is 600m off National Road 4 on Airport Road, opposite the entrance to Keng Kong Airport.) The office is open 7 days per week 7AM to 5PM. They don't always answer but you can call them @012-875096.

There are 35 rangers in Ream National Park, and most of them now can speak pretty good English. That wasn't the case the first time I came out in 2002.

The Ream National Park Rangers sold me and I agreed to come back the following morning at 8AM sharp. I hate getting up early but looking back it was worth it.

I decided on a boat trip around Ream National Park. They told me I had to have a Park Ranger come with me. The fee was $25USD for the trip and $2USD for the guide. I thought it was expensive and I heard later some other people had paid $20USD.

Got our tickets for $32USD on July 23rd, 2011).

You don't have to get a guide, but in my case, it was the best money I ever spent.

while on the trip, I decided to stop and drink from a well near the Mangrove Forest. Apparently, a beast was in wait.

A rare tiger burst out of the mangroves while I was knelt forward, sipping from the well. I turned in time to see the blur of the attacking animal. I began to say goodbye.

That's when this guide of mine appeared out of nowhere. He tackled the beast and at once he killed it with the smell of his yearly washed Kakis. Rumors went that he had never been bitten by a mosquito either.

Ream National Park Sign

All of that is a lie. But I got a guide and at $2USD-$3USD ($5USD now July, 23, 2011) a day it is worth the price. The park would be an easy place to get lost and mine was quite knowledgeable about the conservation efforts going on at Ream National Park. You could see in his eyes that he was proud of what he was doing.

Then again, My guide also told me of Cobras he'd seen and spiders as large as dinner plates. I never saw that myself and looking back, I figure he had a good laugh later.

I arrived at 8:11AM and the Ranger and my Guide took me to where the boat leaves. It's a few kilometers out of Central Sihanoukville, right where Prek Toeuk Sap river crosses national road 4.

When you come out here it really alienates you from the outside world. There are few traces of anything familiar and it feels like being way out in the middle of nowhere. At times, anyway.

I wanted to pluck my things on the river bank and build a hut. And I thought about finding a woman who didn't care for the material things in life. She could live with me and we would return to nature.

Then I thought of the odds of finding such a woman and reality returned.

What to do? There isn't only the bout tour but you can also do a hike to Meditation Mountain (2hrs) or Toul Creek (3hrs). Again, you have to get a Ranger to come with you. The going rate in 2007 is $2USD per hour per person.

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YupDate ... July, 23rd 2011: Very little has changed as far as how they do things in Reap National Park. Prices have changed on our return here as I wrote above but we did not tour the Park as we had the first time. We wanted to but honestly didn't have the time to take the full tour.)

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Or do what I did and take a boat trip down the mangrove-lined Prek Toeuk Sap river. It's a 6 hour day but worth it. You could go to fishing villages (Koh Kchong Village) or secluded beaches (Koh Sampouch).

There's little food or drinking water available in the park, so if planning a hike or an overnight trip, take some of your own.

You can stay overnight on Ream National Park Beach in one of the huts there but get all of your information at the ranger station or again at any of the travel agents in Sihanoukville.

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