Here’s why you’ll never ride an elephant again at Angkor.

Here’s why you’ll never ride an elephant again at Angkor.


It all started three years ago with an elephant inside the  Angkor Archaeological Park named ‘Sambo’. Slaving away in the hot sun he fell over and died from heat exhaustion.  Following his tragic death Cambodians and foreigners alike began petitions, movements, social media groups that formed into a worldwide conversation that focused entirely around the awareness of the cruelty involved within elephant tourism and why we should
‘Ride Bicycles, Not Elephants’

Since the passing of “Sambo” three years ago, Angkor unfortunately lost another one of these overworked animals.  However, as of last week, it seems the death of these majestic creatures, and the uproar surrounding them, has not been in vain.

As of early 2020 the remaining overworked elephants will be sent to a CambodiaN ‘Conservation and Breeding Center’ and the Angkor Elephant Rides will be no more! AS CAS, FORMER OWNER-OPERATION OF ‘SISTER SREY CAFE’ in SIEM REAp and creator of the ‘Ride bikes not elephants’facebook movement SAYS ‘We will never know if these small efforts by big hearted people made this happen, but it happened. Thank you’.
A elephant sized reason to celebrate!

So, you didn’t get to ride an elephant in Angkor?
Please do not worry yourself too much!  Since the announcement we feel it necessary to highlight some of the amazing opportunities for tourists we have operating right here in Siem Reap, as well as wider Cambodia.  So without further ado here are our favourite “who’s who & what’s what” of sustainable and environmental tourism that you should definitely add to you Cambodian holiday experience!

Elephant valley project, mondulkiri

The ‘Elephant Valley Project’ (EVP) is the largest elephant sanctuary in Asia and is about fifteen minutes drive away from the small town of Sen Monorom in Mondulkiri Province (375km north-east of Phnom Penh). It has over 300’000 hectares of protected forest, 1,500 hectares of which are grassland, forests, and bamboo. The ideal habitat and space for the 10 elephants that currently live there. It is run by the registered NGO, Elephant Livelihood Initiative Environment(E.L.I.E.) and is at this stage the only true ethical elephant sanctuary in Cambodia. The use of bullhooks is TOTALLY banned alongside any form of restraint or cruel treatments. You will not be riding, washing or feeding the elephants here as the closest you’re allowed is about 100 meters from them.  This allows you the magical experience of seeing these majestic creatures just how they are meant to be, happy and wild.

Volunteering is also greatly welcomed with some incredible experiences from one too four week programs available!  Volunteering allows you to roll up your sleeves and make a direct impact on massive projects like; farm maintenance, reforesting the area, building trails, helping in research and checking/monitoring each elephants health and being.
Now, volunteering does cost you some money however, when you come for your visit you make a donation and those donations keep the operations of the project and the NGO operating and providing support for the elephants, forest and indigenous people of Cambodia working on the project.

EVP offers a large range of experience to visitors ranging from half day, full day, one or two night stays and even volunteer programs for those who want to stay that little bit longer or just give some love! Over-night visitors will get the opportunity to stay on sanctuary grounds in either their shared rooms or private bungalows. Depending on the package you choose to select all prices will include transport, meals, hiking expeditions, accommodation. To find out more you can visit their ‘VISIT OPTIONS’ and view all their packages.

EVP is rated as Cambodia’s number 1 outdoor activity by so many, and it is easy to see why. Make the detour to Mondulkiri Province, we guarantee a truly unique experience in one of Cambodia’s most beautiful provinces.

FIND OUT MORE at – Elephant valley project, mondulkiri, Cambodia.

Contact – or phone (+855) 099696041 (open Mon to Fri).

Betreed – Cambodian Forest Adventures.

Nestled inside the 6’400 hectares of protected dry dipterocarp forest of Preah Vihear Province (145km north of Siem Reap) you will find the welcoming family of ‘Betreed Adventures’; another one-of-a-kind wildlife and environmental destination in Cambodia. Over the past few years Betreed has been working closely with the local communities and have developed a truly unique off-the-beaten-path travelers and nature seekers will foam at the mouth for! Last year they where gifted a car and motorbikes from the First Lady of Cambodia, and an additional donation from the Parliament and Ministry of Environment to help continue their incredible conservation work here.

At Betreed it is guaranteed you will experience the raw Cambodian wilderness with tranquility due to the limit of the amount of guests that can visit at any one time (larger group bookings can be arranged)!  Accommodation ranges from a 9 meter high tree-house (accommodating four people) with incredible open views of the surrounding forest too two stilted wooden houses (accommodating 4 people per house). Meals are provided in a ‘Bed & Breakfast’ style (providing lunch and dinner too). Best of all you can eat with the family running the show to really get a feeling for how special this place is, you can also choose to have meals delivered to your rooms if your after peace and quiet as well.

The area itself home to endangered and threatened species of Cambodian wildlife such as banteng (wild cow), pileated gibbons, silver langurs, barking deer, sambar deer and many species of birdlife. We have even heard tales of the local pileated gibbons dropping by your room at dawn for a casual hello!

To make this area even more special you can explore the nearby Angkorian era “cave-temples”, enjoy their hiking trails or even have a go at the 300 meter ziplines traversing a saddle of a nearby mountain allowing some pretty panoramic views of the protected forest.

Betreed quotes ”Your visit helps to protect and continue the conservation efforts. Encouraging the local Cambodian people to preserve and protect their forests and wildlife as they realize that conservation can provide a tangible and immediate benefit to them.”

FIND OUT MORE at – betreed – Cambodia Forest Adventures

Contact – and or phone 078 960420, 012 765136, 088 8867550 and 088 7905136.


the nature discovery center of cambodia – siem reap

The Nature Discovery Center of Cambodia (located in Siem Reap) is a hands on and visual nature learning and conservation training facility in Cambodia for locals and foreigners. Opened by the team behind Fauna and Focus,  the Cambodian and foreign conversationalists invite everyone to come and learn about the wonders of Cambodia’s biodiversity;  believing that through nature discovery, environmental education and wildlife media they are building a new generation of nature lovers and wildlife conservation leavers all across Cambodia,… and we couldn’t agree more!

At the Discovery Center you will find a tremendous amount of information about Cambodia nature and conservation efforts through interactive learning stations From insects to jungle walks, fossils finds, cinema, plants, animals, natural sciences through hands on exploration and discovery learning. Tremendous amounts of work and thought went into the opening of the center and it is so clear to see by the literally huge about of information stored within these walls

Walk in’s during open hours are welcome, however bookings are appreciated so the team can organise the center around your visit. They also offer VIP guided tours for those who are in search of something even more personal. These guided tours can be done in both English and Cambodian languages.
Would you like to take your students on a school trip? Sure, just make sure you give the team at least one weeks notice!

FIND OUT MORE at – the nature discovery center of cambodia

Contact – Phone +855 (0)66 293 007


Cardamom tented camp – trapeang rung, koh kong.

In 1993 an area of 171’250 hectares was established as Botum Sakor National Park yet still it is under constant threat by outside influences.  Over 229 km of evergreen forest has been lost and many endangered animal species are being poached. Due to many other development factors over 119’000 hectres have been lost today. Only through the consistent work of Wildlife Alliance since 2002 in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment of the Kingdom of Cambodia the collaborative on-site law enforcement, the forests in the Cardamom Mountains remained protected and fairly intact. This is where you will find the Cardamom Tented Camp nestled alongside the beautiful Prek Tachan river.
‘Your Stay Keeps the Forest Standing’, is their tag line and guests staying at the Cardamom Tented Camp help to sustain a conservation-friendly business set up to keep the land safe from the hands of loggers, poachers and other illegal operations in the area.

The Cardamom Tented Camp houses nine very comfortable safari-style tents that are designed purposefully to minimize the human footprint on nature. The concept of the whole property is a three-way initiative between The Minor Group, YAANA Ventures and Wildlife Alliance  focusing strongly on environmental tourism. First opening in November 2017,  a percentage of its revenues go directly to Wildlife Alliance and its conservation efforts within the park. Any additional profits are then reinvested locally.

Because of the local Trapeang Rung community and Wildlife Alliance, guests who stay will get the opportunity to enjoy guided hikes by local rangers and trips down into the beautiful evergreen forests of the lowland. Wanna learn how to track animals, monitor natural resources or set up camera traps? Sure, why not! They’ll teach you how!

Located in Trapeang Rung, Koh Kong the Cardomom Tented Camps are located about 166km from Sihanoukville however they also offer direct transport to the camp site with reliable transport providers from Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville, Kampot, Kep and Trat in Thailand.

FIND OUT MORE at – Cardamom tented camps

Contact – Click to Email here


Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity (ACCB) – Siem Reap

Before we begin I want to take a moment to say that this has to be one of the BEST projects for wildlife and conservation here in Cambodia. There a bit tucked away and hard to find, however, you seriously cannot miss out on visiting while in Siem Reap!

Located near the famous temples of Angkor, The Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity (ACCB) is the first nature conservation centre in Cambodia aiming to contribute to the conservation of wildlife and biodiversity in Cambodia. Promoting the rescue of selected native Cambodian wildlife and providing adequate rehabilitation – release and breeding facilities while ensuring the maintenance of internationally recognized standards. ACCB has a permanent team of  25 staff, most of which are Cambodian, in the fields of management, administration and conservation planning, environmental education and sustainable natural resource use,

ACCB offers on site tours run by fully trained offical wildlife & environmental guides. On site there is always a variety of Cambodian animals which gives guests the opportunity to see and hear first hand about their efforts to save Cambodia’s wildlife.  Registered as a non-profit organisation all donations received from their guided on site tours go directly towards the feeding of the animals currently in rehabilitation and aiding local communities. Regular guided tours operate Monday to Saturday, starting at 9:00am and 1:00pm sharp from the entrance gate and usually last around one and a half hours requiring a minimum donation of 3USD..

FIND OUT MORE at – The Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity 

Contact – +855 (0) 99 60 40 17 OR


Wildlife & conservation focused Tour Operators

We can also recommend the following tour operators who offer truly unique experiences within Cambodia that focus on wildlife and conservation. check out their website links below.

Sam Veasna Center – Specialist Birding and Wildlife Tours in Cambodia.

SVC manages wildlife viewing trips with exclusive access to Wildlife Conservation Society sites across Cambodia. Registered as a NGO their goal is to provide an alternative sustainable livelihood from ecotourism for the local communities at the sites that WCS priorities for conservation.

Indochine Exploration – explore on foot, by mountain bike and kyak.

IE trips are designed to support conservation and champion the concept of responsible tourism. They make the most of local knowledge while providing sustainable livelihoods to local community members in each area visited; touring through natural landscapes and wildlife habitats without disrupting them; and low-impact methods of travel are not only healthy, but they minimize our carbon footprint as much as possible.

Did you find this article interesting? perhaps you will like to read about our suggestions for ‘socially responsible travel‘ in siem reap.

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