Located nearly 40km east from Kampot, Kampong Trach offers un-spoilt beautiful limestone formations with a scattering of caves set in lush countryside. This place is well worth exploring. Kampong Trach Town, nestled either side of the highway, is a rather dusty affair and at first glance, a place to pass, however, getting beyond the main road will reveal a stunning oasis of natural photogenic Cambodia at it’s finest.
Kampong Trach is located along the southern road 33, one hour ride east of Kampot of thirty minutes from Kep, both good locations for accommodation. Once in Kampong Trach the caves, are easy to find, follow the large sign saying ‘Kampong Track Mountain Resort’ directing you north from the main road. Heading to the caves, on the left of this track there are some old kilns which were used for brick making, no longer in use. After one kilometer the track splits. To your right will be an archway leading to the ticket office. You can also explore the route to the left which takes you beyond the main tourism site into lush countryside. Head towards ‘Elephant mountain’ and beyond or the caves at the rear.
Entrance to the cave is one dollar, a small price to pay which goes to the local community. Follow the track and you will enter a pagoda with the main cave ahead. You will be met by a handful of local children armed with torches offering you their service to guide through the dark passage to the cave. Take them up on this and they will tell you all about what lies ahead. The caves were a Khmer Rouge stronghold, but now host a series of shrines and buddhist monuments. The local guides with their vivid imagination, will show you around pointing out shapes in the rock which kind of resemble animals.
Exit here and head to the north of this limestone formation, there is an emerald pool hidden in the rocks, a favorite swimming spot for the locals. In this vicinity there are two more caves worth exploring. These are named the Sun and the Moon cave by the locals because of the holes left from falling rocks resemble the sun and moon. The locals will tell you the fallen rocks are sun and moon ships, with ancient Khmer script from the gods (they are naturally formed lines in the rocks). These caves offer some spectacular views of the Cambodia countryside framed by their limestone formations, and great lighting conditions, an ideal spot for night photography.
Beyond the ‘main’ attraction, at the foot of Phnom Dumrei (elephant mountain) lies a large man made reservoir from the Khmer Rouge era. Seldom do tourists go here. It’s a stunning place. In their dugout boats the locals harvest water lilies. The whole area is fed from this lake and with a scattering of locals, it offers some lush countryside, great photogenic opportunities. I will certainly return.
From Kampot, the best way to visit from would be to hire a small motorbike. If that does not suit, get a moto or tuktuk with a driver for the day. To make a full day out, add on a bit of sight seeing at Kep and Sothy’s pepper farm, both worth a visit.
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