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Kirirom National Park

Mary lives in Cambodia, a few months each year, working on education projects.

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

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.

Kirirom's Trails and Waterfalls

Waterfall in Kirirom

Waterfall in Kirirom

Kirirom Visit - Have you visited Kirirom?

Happy Mountain

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

Kirirom National Park

Kirirom National Park

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.

Kirirom Eco-Tourism

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; ccben_cam@yahoo.com;

Mlup Baitong (023-214409; mlup@online.com.kh), a percentage of the proceeds is pumped back into the local community.

Eco Tourism Program in Kirirom - Community Based Eco-Tourism

kirirom

Do you support eco-tourism programs?

The Flow of the Waterfalls in Kirirom

The Flow of the Waterfalls in Kirirom

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.

Have you visited Cambodia - Let us know

The Visitor's Center at Kirirom National Park

Displays at Kirirom Visitor Centre

Displays at Kirirom Visitor Centre

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?

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

Please leave your comments

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on August 03, 2019:

Perhaps it will lead to having more of them in the future. National parks are true treasures!

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on August 01, 2019:

It's their first national park and it enhances in many Cambodians the love for these spaces.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on August 01, 2019:

Thanks, Mary, for sharing this beautiful place with us. One of my great loves is visiting parks of all kinds. I will probably never go to Cambodia, so appreciate learning about this particular park from you. You have indeed traveled to many exciting places and must have so many good memories.

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on May 03, 2019:

You do share so much of what you know well with me so am glad to reciprocate.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on May 03, 2019:

All of the beautiful places you have visited. Remarkable....you are a lucky person to have traveled this much. I'm grateful you write about it so I can, in some way, experience it all.

Leah J. Hileman from East Berlin, PA, USA on December 28, 2012:

Parks with waterfalls are my favorite. I'd also like to see any mountain named "The End of the World." Just sounds very picturesque and breathtaking.

lesliesinclair on September 07, 2012:

How I would love to be standing beneath one of those waterfalls you show. Lovely.

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on April 15, 2012:

@indiavacationplans: A wholesome family experience.

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on April 15, 2012:

@Anthony Altorenna: Yes, it is. The walk offers one not from Asia many of nature's interesting species.

Anthony Altorenna from Connecticut on April 14, 2012:

Beautiful! This looks like an awesome eco-tourism destination where people and nature can co-exist.

indiavacationplans on January 19, 2012:

Great guide for family vacations. Thanks for sharing this with us.

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on January 01, 2012:

@anonymous: They are.

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on January 01, 2012:

@chezchazz: Good. Come and visit.

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on January 01, 2012:

@nort43: Open your eyes and ears...right.

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on September 21, 2011:

@thailandecotour: Hope so...it is not far from you.

thailandecotour on September 21, 2011:

very nice... i will try to visit the park soon

nort43 on March 25, 2011:

What a great lens. I can almost feel the place. You never run out of new expweriencess if your eyes and ears are open. Well done.

Chazz from New York on March 11, 2011:

What a beautiful spot. Just added it to my bucket list. Hope to be able to visit some day.

anonymous on February 13, 2011:

The waterfalls are amazing.

anonymous on January 19, 2011:

Wow, I'd love to go hiking here, the waterfalls are beautiful. They look so inviting!

dwnovacek on January 11, 2011:

A beautiful lens about a beautiful place. Another SquidAngel Blessing for you!

TeacherSerenia on January 07, 2011:

If I ever visit Cambodia (Kampuchea) at least I will know one lovely place to visit.

ravi551854 on January 06, 2011:

well it is wonderful lens related to visit korriom national park

Vicki Green from Wandering the Pacific Northwest USA on January 04, 2011:

It is wonderful to learn that Cambodia has a national park. From the photos and videos it looks like a beautiful place. Blessed by a SquidAngel.

anonymous on December 30, 2010:

What a beautiful lens, I love reading about exotic places that I most likely won't get the chance to visit. That waterfall is amazing!

Ellen Brundige from California on December 27, 2010:

Beautiful lens, as usual. You give us a magical glimpse of a place some of us will never see -- but I hope also you will get tourists who are looking up Cambodia before they visit!