Botum Sakor National Park

National Park in Koh Kong Conservation Corridor

Occupying almost the entirety of the 35km-wide peninsula northwest across the Gulf of Kompong Som from Sihanoukville, this 1834 sq km national park, encircled by mangroves and beaches, is home to a profusion of wildlife, including elephants, deer, leopards and sun bears.

Alas, a US$3.5 billion Chinese-run tourism project is developing the western third of the park into resort-cities, leaving the eastern third of the peninsula as the only viable area to visit. Boats can be hired in Andoung Tuek.

Launched in 2010, the tourism project will take 25 years to complete, but hundreds of people have already been evicted from the area and a four-lane highway now bisects the heart of the park, providing access to the Koh Sdach Archipelago. Meanwhile, Cambodian businessman Ly Yong Phat has been granted a concession to develop a large central swath of the park.

On the eastern side, boats hired in Andoung Tuek take you up into four mangrove-lined streams that are rich with wildlife, including the pileated gibbon, long-tailed macaque and black-shanked douc langur. The streams are Ta Op, the largest, on the east coast; Ta Nun in the middle of the south coast; and Ta Nhi and Preak Khsach on the east coast..

Trail-bikers and intrepid moto riders can bypass the newer highway and take the rugged road around the park’s east coast via the scenic fishing village of Thmor Sor, which is largely built on stilts over the alluvial bay, stretching almost 1km out to sea.