Only around a decade ago, venturing into the Cardamom Mountains was forbidden. Fury of war engulfed the tranquil emerald peaks right up to the mid 90’s. These mountains got named after the cardamom spice that grows in the region. Rebels of Khmer Rouge decamped in the area after the fall of Pol Pot’s regime in 1979. Battles and bloodshed continued for over a decade among the guerrillas and the locals and finally by the time the guns were put down, the villagers had lost all they had and were thus compelled to exploit the regions natural resources for survival by hunting for wildlife and tearing down forests. Yet, despite the dark bitter past, the Cardamom Mountains remain a region of mesmerizing beauty. And peace has paved way for tourism.
Travelers that number to a thousand odd yearly make a trip to the Cardamom Mountains to get an experience of the world- class hiking that the region now offers. The cardamom Mountain region is a 3 hour journey by road from its capital city – Phnom Penh. The mountain region can also be reached by sea – which is a 2 hour odd scenic boat ride from the capital.
With the help of nonprofit organizations working along with the national governing bodies that work towards promoting the conservation of natural resources and relieve poverty, the communities of this region have now begun to restore their destiny. Land-mines have now been cleared up; the battlefields of yesteryears have now become perfect trekking territories and men who at one point fought rebels now direct and guide travelers along deserted trails. Women too are doing their part and have now thrown open their homes to serve as Guesthouse’s to the travelers visiting the region, with all the locals in the community sharing and benefiting out of the profit that is made.