Wildest dreams: Saving Cambodia’s Cardamom Mountains

The largest expanse of unbroken rainforest left in Southeast Asia is a biodiversity hotspot – and a new breed of tourism offerings and conservationists are working to keep it that way.

Like scissors cutting through silk, Duong Tina’s paddles slice through the softly curving Preak Tachan River, its early morning water still and smooth. As we kayak downstream, deeper inside Cambodia’s southern jungles, Duong – my impish 27-year-old guide from a nearby village – gestures at the thick, misty jungle lining both banks of the gleaming blue-green waterway. He easily spots a family of long-tailed macaques, a red squirrel and the glint of a kingfisher on a log jutting into the water. He wants me to see them, too.

But to me the riverbanks look like solid blocks of jungle – until the creatures shift positions, when I cry out in amazement to see an animal darting out of the green. “It’s funny how you can only see them when they move,” he says, half joking and half genuinely puzzled.

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