The title says it all: when we decided to visit Ream Nationalpark outside Sihanoukville, we didn’t know that we signed up for one of the most strenuous hikes, clothes soaked in sweat, beautiful nature and being some centimetres away from a Tarantula with her babies…
In Sihanoukville, we stayed at the Grand Sihanoukville Hotel. The name might seem too much for the hotel but it was a good bargain. It cost us 20$ per night including a nice pool and a huge breakfast buffet. The rooms were decent, we had an upper room with a private balcony, the lower rooms are a little bit too dark and you don’t have your own balcony. The hotel is located 5 walking minutes away from the backpacker district.
How to get there: We hired a motor bike and drove to Ream Nationalpark which is about 40 minutes away. We simply followed our navigation on our cell phone. The park is next to a little airstrip. We missed the entrance a few times so when you see the airstrip, turn right immediately. There is a road that runs next to the fence of the airstrip. On the left, you should find the ranger’s headquarter.
How to hike in the park: It is “recommended” (meaning obligatory) that you hire a ranger that accompanies you in the park. We hired a ranger for 2 hours who couldn’t speak any English, though. In retrospective, that wasn’t a problem at all since we were too busy to hike up the mountain anyway 🙂 The hike is steep and there is not really a marked way which is why you are required to hire a ranger.
On top of that, your money goes to the nature conservation centre, so you’re doing something good, as well. Our ranger hat a little stick with him and he poked into little holes once at a while. I thought he was looking for some insects or even rats but the first two holes were empty. When he poked in the third hole, we knew what he was looking for – tarantulas! There was one big brown disgusting tarantula with her babies crawling…the ranger “played” with her and the stick so that we could take some pictures. I was too scared to take a single good picture, though. High on adrenaline, we completed the rest of the hike until our ranger said that we would now make our way back.
We were the only ones besides two other women on the trek and we really enjoyed the lush forest (it was still lush although it was dry season). Sweating and exhausted, we went to our motorbike and took a left turn and headed towards the sea. There are some restaurants, most of them closed, though. We found one that was open and enjoyed a big portion of mixed veggies and rice and a cold coke.
Ream Nationalpark was super fun, exhausting and scary. But I was super happy to have seen a tarantula in the wild. We can recommend this part of the Ream Nationalpark to anyone. Hire a motorbike (again, be aware of the corrupt police, on our way back we ran into a road block and had to pay 20$, if you want to avoid that, don’t use the main road but follow a minor road. We used the minor road on our way to the Nationalpark and avoided the roadblock. Just have a look at your navigation and take the route that seems a little bit longer), and a ranger and enjoy a 2 hour hike up the mountain. There is also the possibility to hike more than two hours but considering the heat, we wouldn’t recommend it, unless you’re up for some really hard exercise 🙂