Verdant Green Pine Forest – Kirirom National Park

 

Kirirom-Traffic-Circle-five-headed Naga

Traffic circle near verdent green Pine Forest of Kirirom National Park

Kirirom National Park,Forest,Lakes and waterfalls

Kirirom National Park lies 120 km west of Phnom Penh in the Kampong Speu province. From Sihanoukville about a 2 hour drive. The Kirirom National Park covers an area of 35.000 hectares (350 km²).  The Kirirom National Park is a mountain plateau, elevation 800 m above sea level, known for its  green pine forest-covered hills, beautiful water falls and lakes.

Kirirom National Park-Mountains,Lakes and verdent green Pine Forest

Kirirom National Park-Mountains,Lakes and verdant green Pine Forest

The high elevation and coolness of the green pine forest made it  a favorite summer retreat for King Sihanouk in the 1960’s. The King and royal retinue would travel by elephants through the pine forest down to the picturesque lakes below the Villa.

Three Chimney Stacks-Last remnants of King Sihanouk's Villa-Kirirom National Park

Three Chimney Stacks-Last remnants of King Sihanouk’s Villa-Kirirom National Park

Remnants of the past

A narrow track through rough vegetation leads  into the spot where King Sihanouk’s villa once stood. The villa, roads and other infrastructures destroyed during the Khmer Rouge era. Following the track in, not a lot to see, all that remains of the villa today is a set of three chimneys stacks on a foundation, and some rotting wood planking from a deck. There is however a fabulous view of the Cardamom range, green pine forest and lakes below from this vantage point. The scent of the soft green pine needles and the quietness of the pine forest is a refreshing experience.Worth the short trek in.

Kirirom National Forest - Pileated Gibbon

Kirirom National Forest – Pileated Gibbon

The Kirirom National Park has ranger-guided tours and walking tracks to experience through the verdant green pine forest. Wildlife you may experience include elephant, tiger, pileated gibbon, banteng, gaur and sun bear. Though today sightings are rare. How lucky was I to see a gibbon in a tree at the resort. Perhaps the Pileated Gibbon is not as rare as a tiger or elephant although it is on the endangered species list in Cambodia and Thailand?

Castle-like-frontage-Kirirom Hillside Resort below Kirirom National Park

Castle-like-frontage-Kirirom Hillside Resort below Kirirom National Park

Kirirom Hillside Resort

Next was a lunch stop. A big surprise in what seemed a fairly remote spot is the Kirirom Hillside Resort just below the entrance to the National Park. The immediate impression is one of a castle with turrets, and some wild animal (not live) roaming the outside, including a kangaroo.  Once inside the grounds, the resort has a  delightful large open restaurant overlooking the swimming pools. Service was a bit slow on the day, but this met we had time to stroll around the lovely grounds of the resort. Our lunchtime menu proved a delicious meal – fresh, hot and tasty cuisine.

Restaurant overlooks the swimming pools at Kirirom Hillside Resort.

Restaurant overlooks the swimming pools at Kirirom Hillside Resort.

Real live Gibbon, Kirirom Hillside Resort-Kirirom National Park

Real live Gibbon, Kirirom Hillside Resort-Kirirom National Park

Pileated Gibbon – Endangered Species

Spotted a live, wild animal in a tree at the resort. A beautiful black furry monkey with creamy-white markings on its face, hands and feet. I found out he is a male Pileated Gibbon, an attractive animal, a visitor from the National Park. The female gibbon in contrast is white or creamy color with a black head and belly. The Gibbon feed on green leaves and fruit. Beautiful creatures, on the endangered species list. I guess you may sight more of these at home in the National Park, but felt I was very lucky to see this one.

Secluded Self-contained Bungalows,green manicured gardens with statues

Secluded Self-contained Bungalows,green manicured gardens with statues

Green shrubbery and spacious grounds

The resort has spacious grounds with some very attractive bungalows in a quite area offering comfort and privacy, green manicured gardens and roman statues. There is a sauna and several restaurants to choose from.  The resort also caters for budget travelers.

Self-contained bungalows in a secluded area-pristine green gardens

Self-contained bungalows in a secluded area-pristine green gardens

The turrets and  castle-like appearance of the resort designed to attract families with children. The Kirirom Hillside Resort offers many activities such as biking, horse-riding and kayaking. Families and tourists come from Phnom Penh to enjoy the coolness of the mountain plateau, and the verdant  green pine forest of the Kirirom National Park in the hot summer months.

 


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