Covid-19 has caused many international governmental restrictions, which caused significant global business and lifestyle changes. Among these restrictions were the lockdowns and curfews, which enforced rules making the general population remain indoors far more than they would usually prefer, which created a chain effect of kindling an ember of fear.
The unexpected revelation that was brought to light by Vantheth Hong, a full-time banker and part-time hiking guide, is that, right after lockdowns end, the idea of an outdoor adventure entices more people. Hong said: “it’s actually a door opener for the hiking industry in Cambodia”. Hong’s part-time job provides a small income, but the reason he does it is purely out of a love for hiking.
He continued saying that next weekend he has a group scheduled for the Aural mountain hike and is in the process of organising a 60 kilometre trek for the weekend after that.
Mountain trekking is an activity in Cambodia that is beloved by both locals and foreigners alike. For it to be possible, tour guides need to arrange a large group to cover all the expenses, including van rental, petroleum, helpers, getting permission legally and provisions.
A trekking group on top of the Crocodile Back Rock at the peak of Khnorng Kropeur Mountain in Kampong Speu province. Vantheth Hong
Hiking mountain trails are prevalent in the Kingdom because the tour guides facilitate the hike by providing essentials such as water, three meals a day, a tent, and travel mattresses. They even give some luxuries such as tea and coffee and some even offer Cambodian rice wine.
Hong’s most recent group hiked up Khnorng Kropeur in the Kampong Speu province, which he loosely translated to Crocodile Back Mountain, a popular attraction because of the Chamcha waterfall near the summit. It is said to be the third-most-challenging climb in Cambodia. The hill got its name because of a rock near the peak, which is reminiscent of reptilian scales.
The group he guided had foreigners from Spain, Chile, South Africa, China, Malaysia and had three locals. The mountain trail was overgrown and rough, amplified by the slippery mud caused by heavy rain. The tropical rain forest is home to many parasites that can be a nuisance if not adequately prepared for and the mud could be a significant safety hazard on the way down if not equipped with appropriate footwear.
One of the climbers who introduced herself as June said she has been up the highest and most-challenging mountain in Cambodia, Mount Aural, but this has been far more physically straining for her because of a lack of any form of exercise over the last few months.
The trip cost $69 per person, which is calculated to $34.5 a night with an additional $10 charge for foreigners. Typically, hiking trips are a three-day weekend event. Still, there are two-day options for groups with little time because of work, plus more extended options for groups who like to hike from mountain to mountain over several days. The costs may vary based on the details such as destination, duration and group size.
This article was first published in Khmer Times. All contents and images are copyright to their respective owners and sources.