Kirirom National Park
Cambodia's First National Park
Kirirom or Mountain of Joy is Cambodia's first officially designated national park and what an exciting start to protecting the countries natural history.
Waterfalls in Kirirom
Kirirom: The Mountain of Joy
Located 112 km from Cambodia's capital, Phnom Penh, in the province of Kampong Speu, it takes in over 35,000 hectares of the Elephant Mountains. Today, development is starting to improve tourist infrastructure and make the place a meeting and conference destination.
On weekends, Kirirom has become a really upbeat picnic destination for many Cambodians as they begin to rediscover their country. Best of all, at 2,215 ft. above sea level, it is cooler than the city or even the neighboring farm lands so it is a treat for everyone. As you poke about, you'll find the ruins of the Royal summer palace, destroyed during the Khmer Rouge, but still giving a sense of the influence they have on the country.
Images of Kirirom National Park in Cambodia - Great waterfallsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Kirirom's Trails and Waterfalls
Kirirom Visit - Have you visited Kirirom?
Have you been to Kirirom?
Happy Mountain as Kirirom is sometimes referred to makes you want to take a walk in its many trails and footpaths through the pine forests. Some of these paths are quite steep so you have to be fit. You can also take the traditional ox-cart rides which is an amazing antidote to rushing about in Phnom Penh.
Kirirom has several small lakes and waterfalls where you can cool yourself off and even swim a bit, making friends with the local kids. If you are really lucky you might spot some of the park inhabitants such as asian elephant, deer, gaur, banteng, leopard, spotted linsang, pileated gibbon and tiger. Most of these are still alive because they are too smart to come anywhere near people, but slowly the park is building a less threatening environment.
Your best Kirirom adventure - Adventure tours
Top Video on Kirirom - Watch this video on Kirirom
You will surely want to go when you see Kirirom in this video. You would want to place yourself under the water falls and get soaked in fresh water. Its very refreshing especially during the hot months.
Here's a video of what to expect in Kirirom
Hike up to Phnom Dat Chivit - End of the World Mountain
For the more adventurous, consider hooking up with a ranger who will guide you through a two-hour hike up to Phnom Dat Chivit (End of the World Mountain) where an abrupt cliff-face offers an unbroken view of the Elephant Mountains and Cardamom Mountains to the west.
It is often possible to see wildlife on this trail, including black bears scavenging the pine trees for honey.
Kirirom is part of Cambodia's southwestern cluster of protected areas which include Phnom Bokor, Preah Sihanouk and Kep National Park. It is on the way to the beaches of Sihanoukville from Phnom Penh or from Thailand through the Koh Kong border. If your idea of a great trek is the great outdoors there is a real treat waiting throughout this area.
Do you enjoy going on adventure tours?
There is a community based eco-tourism program set just beyond the park boundaries. They can arrange for a guide or homestays for you or you can sample traditional Khmer food in their small restaurants.
There are two I have found but I have not yet had a chance to stay as we went there with Cambodian friends. But I've heard great things about these programs and its one of the best ways to really see/taste/smell a culture.
Chambok Community-based Ecotourism (012 355272; email@example.com;
Mlup Baitong (023-214409; firstname.lastname@example.org), a percentage of the proceeds is pumped back into the local community.
Eco Tourism Program in Kirirom - Community Based Eco-Tourism
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Best time to visit Kirirom
Kirirom is not the happiest of mountains during rainy season (May to October ) so the best time is just after that while Cambodia is still cool. From November on, you will be rewarded with gushing water falls and the great greenness of the hills.
The park facilities are constantly improving and there are several resorts in the area. You are better off to have your own transport as it is quite isolated from the public routes. There are tour operators in Phnom Penh at will be happy to arrange trips for you based on your own requirements. Of course if you are 20 and ready for adventure, go for it. Local buses are an experience of a lifetime and you really will meet some of the world's friendliest people.
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The Visitor's Center at Kirirom National Park
Visitors' Centre in Kirirom
The visitors center in the park is small but full of interesting things. The manager does her best to show off what the park offers. Showing them how much you appreciate their little effort is the best you can do when you visit.
Have your picture taken in one of these photo-op boards that are set up for visitors.
Parks as Part of our Lives - Do you go to parks?
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Tips for your visit to Kirirom
1. Leave Phnom Penh early so you don't get too note when you walk up to Kirirom.
2. Make sure the vehicle you choose is a strong one. In Cambodia, almost everything is for rent from nearly new Escalades to virtually destroyed Toyota low buts.
3. Bring a camera and add to the sparse documentation on Kirirom. Bring one to take pictures of nature and scenic views from the top of the mountain or the winding pathways and waterfalls.
4. A good pair of walking shoes to trudge through the Park.
5. A hat. Get a Tilley. It has a secret compartment for your money.
© 2010 Mary Norton