When you drive from Koh Kong to Pailin and Pursat, you'll come through the Cardamom Mountains. Allegedly, this is the most pristine wilderness in Southeast Asia.
This ride takes you through a very beautiful region.
The highest point in the mountain area is Mount Aural with a height of 1813 meters. There are five major rivers which flow from the Cardamom Mountains. These rivers provide dozens of waterfalls. There are approximately 25,000 people in this area, some of them belong to ethnic minorities, such as Porr.
There are two nature reserves in the Cardamom Mountains, which were both founded by King Norodom Sihanouk solely on the basis of aerial photographs in 1993.
Mt. Samkos Wildlife Sanctuary in the western part of the area, and Mt. Aural Wildlife Sanctuary is in the east. These are "paper" parks only: they only exist by law, none of the has an active management, necessary for a nature reserve.
Here also withdrew the Khmer Rouge guerrillas after losing power in 1979. Twenty years long nobody dared to enter that area for fear of the Khmer Rouge and the mines which they have placed here. Consequently, the region remained untouched and undeveloped.
Today Cardamom Mountains are the largest unspoilt area in the mainland of Southeast Asia. There lives a remarkable number of species, which are threatened (or sometimes elsewhere in the world have died out elsewhere in the world).
However, without the proper protection of this area and its inhabitants they are handed over to the interests of loggers and poachers. It is densely covered with lush rainforest.
The Cardamom Mountains have the greatest natural resources in terms of jungle and wildlife. The environment of the Cambodian government program conducted a survey, which covered only a small part of the vast expanse of unexplored land.
Despite of the little research and observation which has been carried out, they did identify 30 large mammals, 30 species of small mammals, over 450 birds, 64 reptiles, 30 amphibians, and many other plants and insects.
We mention a few native animals in the Cardamom Mountains Life: elephants, tigers, clouded leopards and a wide variety of mammals, such as the Malaysian sun bear, pleated gibbons, and Siamese crocodiles, all of which are high on the list of endangered species.
The Cardamom Mountains are considered one of the last true forest areas of the mainland in Southeast Asia. Isolated by their remoteness, the rugged terrain and the fact that they have been forgotten during the years of conflict in Cambodia, the Cardamom Mountains have remained virtually undisturbed forest of over 10,000 square
kilometres. The Cardamom Mountain Wildlife Reserves Project, a joint venture of Fauna & Flora International and Cambodia 's Ministry of the Environment, focus on the conservation of the landscape, nature and at the same time reducing poverty of the people.The focus is mainly on the management and maintenance of two protected areas in
south-western Cambodia: Phnom Samkos Wildlife Sanctuary and Phnom Aural Wildlife Sanctuary.
The Cardamom Mountains are nowadays in the world known for its mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians. This is partly due to the very high diversity of living environments. Some can be found nowhere else in Cambodia, as the vast fire-regulated ferns, upper montane forest, high altitude swamps and blackwater rivers, which swinging movement through the marshes.