Cambodia–Koh Kong Eco Lodge

Before returning to NZ we decided to have 10 days in Cambodia. Having heard good things from our Wellington neighbours who had been there in January, we headed to Rainbow Eco Lodge. It is located in the Cardamom mountains in south-western Cambodia, not far from the Thai border.

rainbow lodge map
Tatai, in Koh Kong province on the left hand side

A taxi picked us up from our hotel in Phnom Penh and it was a four and a half hour drive on good roads (and $70). The initial period getting out of PP was exceedingly slow as we passed minivan after minivan full of people, convoys of trucks servicing the many factories on the city outskirts and plenty of other cars.

One thing we had not known before we arrived in Cambodia was that this weekend was a general election. So everywhere there were people on trucks campaigning. Although it was an election the Prime Minister Hun Sen Cambodian People’s Party dominates the scene and we are told many people are required by their employers to vote that way. There was a report in the newspaper that advised there was an alcohol ban for the weekend voting period – to avoid inflaming violence. However because we were staying off the grid, so to speak, this didn’t affect us.

We were met at the river by the boat and one of the new operators of the lodge. Neil and Lois are learning the ropes to take over from the lodge owner Janet & Gee on the 1st of July.

rainbow lodge

For two of our three nights there we were the only guests, so we had the run of the place. All our meals were included in the room rate and the food was very good. Each evening we were given a choice of three starters and three mains to choose from, so it worked very well for us.

We spent time on the river in one the lodge’s 2-man kayaks. The 1st day presented numerous challenges for us to work as a team in the kayak, but we got back into the swing of things.


The 2nd day we headed to the nearby Tatai waterfall, world famous in Cambodia, to the Cambodians. When we arrived we had some trouble finding a suitable spot to park up because of other people there. We stopped and a tourist offered to hold our kayak steady while we got out, but he was a bit useless and the kayak overturned and we took a dunk in the river shallows. Not so bad, except in the manoeuvre Andrew lost his sunglasses, one sock and his camera got wet. Not ideal. We were wearing socks to walk on the rocks and it was amazing how much grip they gave.

tatai and wet
Wet and less than happy at the waterfall

Having looked at the waterfall we decided to head home as rain was threatening. Of course we got drenched, but we were already wet and one doesn’t exactly stay dry when kayaking anyway.

In the time we were at the lodge it rained each day. It is the rainy season here, so it was not unexpected. The thing we noticed most in contrast to Vientiane was how humid and moist everything was. It was really hard to get things dry. Even a thin silk scarf hanging in the breeze (after the dunking) did not dry in 18 hours.

on the river

The area is lovely and it was a nice break. We did not do any trekking through the jungle proper mainly due to the weather and our lack of proper clothing. We did do the walk around the lodge grounds where I acquired 2 leeches – one I noticed immediately and knocked it off, the other unnoticed under a toe swelled to a size 10 times it’s original as it got it’s fill of blood before I felt it squishing under my toe. And there were plenty of mosquitoes. 2 years in Laos and no mosquitoes bit me, they bite Andrew and avoid me, 2 days at Rainbow lodge and they have a go at me. The river was good for swimming and Andrew did so each day.

Back out on the boat to catch another taxi for our next leg.

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