DISCOVERING MANGROVES AT PEAM KRASAOP WILDLIFE SANCTUARY
On one of our stop over nights at Koh Kong, we decided to visit the Peam Krasaop Wildlife Sanctuary close to the main Koh Kong town. Only 8 km out of the town, it provides easy access to a beautiful mangrove forest.
After lots of investigation we found out that there is no public transport available to the site, so the only way to get there and back would be with the help of hired motodop or tuk-tuk. As the skillful negotiators we are, we managed to get the price of tuk-tuk to $6 for 3 people which seems very reasonable, and to be honest, good value for money.
We left for the Peam Krasaop Wildlife Sanctuary early in the morning at 8am; as we hoped be able to reach Trat (in Thailand) by mid afternoon). The site is well signposted, so it was easy to find the entrance.
The entrance fee is extremely affordable – $2.50 per foreigner. The ticket office staff do not speak very much English, which could be tricky if you are trying to request lots of information…. Sorry to disappoint.
Once you pay the entrance fee you will gain access to large mangrove forest. Much of Peam Krasaop is on the significant Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance. The whole area is part of the Koh Kong Conservation Corridor, and is one of the most valuable ecological locations in Cambodia and is home to a large number of species and its huge biodiversity.
The site has seen adapted to provide easy access, with part of the forest being accessible via elevated walkway. Unlike most of Cambodia, this tourism site has lots of waste baskets which help to keep the site clean; without any plastic waste ending up in the water.
The mangrove forest does not seems to get very busy, or at least is was not when we visited in May, therefore you have a feeling of isolation… being able to connect with nature in silence. As you walk through the mangrove you will encounter a rest area with few local shops, restaurants and most importantly toilets. It would have been nice if the shops sold locally made products rather than the usual Chinese mass-produced tourists’ gadgets. So do not get excited about the options to buy really nice souvenirs.
However, the food options are much better than the shops. The local restaurant have built little shelters within the mangrove, close to the water, where if you order food you will be sent to sit down and wait. These are very welcoming places, where you can eat your meal, relax and possibly have a nap if you get exhausted during the day with the heat. We managed to have our morning snack here.
One of the key attractions of Peam Krasaop are their boat trips. There are no signs about this, but thanks to Impact Explorer site we knew what to look for. Close to the shops is a wooden bridge over one of the canals. Once you cross to the other site, you will find a man/men sitting there next to wooden boats.
There are set prices for 3 types of trips, we chose the middle length tour which takes you to the main body of the forest, within the canals and close to the open sea. During this tour the boat does not stop at any of the swimming beaches (as it does during the long tour). This is a perfect option if you are visiting the site for a half a day or if the weather is not fantastic – as you can see from my photos it was overcast on the day we visited.
Once you are on the boat, you really realise how large the wetland and mangrove forest is. Expect a few tourists on the boat trips and a few local families coming and going , the whole area is inhabited. You can see several species of birds.
I can imagine on a hot summer day, you will probably need lots of sun cream to prevent any sunburn, but most of the boats have a netting to protect you from the worst of the sun.
The whole experience of the Peam Krasaop Wildlife Sanctuary has been surprisingly fascinating. Coming here, we did not really know what to expect. I have never really visited a mangrove wildlife sanctuary before, and if I am totally honest, before arriving here I wasn’t sure what to expect. In reality, mangroves are a lot more interesting than most people might think. Following my visit, I choose to educate myself about the importance of mangrove forests and their biodiversity.
Peam Krasaop Wildlife Sanctuary is no doubt a fascinating place for those interested in natural habitat protection, wildlife and global warming, but the place is also a whimsical place to escape the busy world around us. The site is very easily accessible and has very reasonable prices, so you budget will never be in shock after this trip.