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Ream National Park

Ream National Park

Updated: 2017-05-17 15:16:38

Just 15km east of Sihanoukville, Ream National Park (ឧទ្យានជាតិរាម) offers trekking opportunities in primary forest, invigorating boat trips through coastal mangroves and long stretches of unspoilt beach. This is an easy escape for those looking to flee the crowds of Sihanoukville.

The park is home to breeding populations of several regionally and globally endangered birds of prey, including the Brahminy kite, grey-headed fish eagle and white-bellied sea eagle: look for them soaring over Prek Toeuk Sap Estuary. Endangered birds that feed on the mudflats include the lesser adjutant, milky stork and painted stork.

Despite its protected status, Ream is gravely endangered by planned tourism development, especially along its coastline. By visiting, you can demonstrate that the park, in its natural state, is not only priceless to humanity but also a valuable economic resource.

Today though, its significance lies in the protection afforded to 210 square kilometres of mangroves, fresh water marshes, forests, the Prek Toeuk Sap estuary, beaches, coral reefs and seagrass beds that lie within the park’s boundaries, including the islands Koh Thmei and Koh Ses, and all of the plant and wildlife that are dependent upon it.

It took the Vietnamese just three days to secure the coastline along here, clearing the way for a sweep up country towards Phnom Penh. A certain arrogance on the Vietnamese part saw an under-manned force attempt to take Sihanoukville before support had arrived from Kampot, which was almost fatal to the task. But air strikes and a desperate scramble along the coast to support the beleaguered soldiers turned the game around, and Sihanoukville was secured by the morning of January 10, with the victory squared off when Ream Port was taken by Vietnamese forces that afternoon.

It’s a lot quieter now. Wandering through the park, the dominant sounds are bird song, cicadas or the splash of waves along the beaches. Surrounded by such lush greenery and whirling flights of butterflies peace and tranquility get under your skin and into your bones in a way those soldiers could only have dreamed of. The park is home to more than a third of Cambodia’s bird species, including the brahminy kite, grey-headed fish eagle, the white-bellied sea eagle, lesser adjutants, and milky and painted storks, and there are also recorded populations of sun bears, mouse deer (or muntjac), the increasing beleaguered pangolin, gibbons and macaques.

You might catch a glimpse of these, or perhaps an unlikely tiger (wildly unlikely – despite suggestions to the contrary by underhanded tour touts, the last wild Cambodian tiger is very likely long gone) on a hiking trip, which can be arranged through a tour operator in Sihanoukville or simply take a tuk tuk out to the park, and for $8 hire a ranger at the park office who will take you on an easy hike into the park’s forests.

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