After roughing it in Koh Thmei for the past four days, we really wanted to finish our Cambodian odyssey in style!
Goodbye rustic timber shack, hello FLOATING LUXURY TENT ON A RIVER!!!
As soon as I saw this place on the internet I just knew we had to go. Located a four and a half hour drive from Phnom Penh and only 18km from Koh Kong on the Cambodia/Thailand border, the 4 Rivers Lodge is off the normal tourist track, and you know what, that’s probably a good thing!
The premise behind the lodge is simple; 12 luxury tents on floating platforms, virgin rainforest as far as the eye can see…and in their own words, “Peaceful seclusion, privacy, luxury, exclusivity . . .Welcome to 4 Rivers Floating Lodge”!
For much of our time in Cambodia we were surrounded by plains, rice paddies and beaches. All very flat! Yet the further north we drove from Koh Kcchang and Sihanoukville, the steeper and more mountainous the terrain became.
The Cardamom mountains cop the brunt of the monsoonal rains, and the day we drove in to Tatai was no different. Heavy rain interspersed with brilliant sunshine, occasional mists coalescing and fading away in the troughs between the peaks, this was ‘wet season’ in all its glory! Unfortunately, this also means that the roads in the area cop an absolute pounding. Thank goodness we had a driver because there was no way I would have attempted some of the sections in a 2WD. The vast majority is sealed, yet large sections were undergoing ‘repairs’ and were no better than a thick mud bath due to the incessant and heavy rains.
Slipping and sliding through the clay, our driver obviously knew his stuff, getting us safely to the dock on the Tatai River where we were to catch the only mode of transport available to those wanting to stay at 4 Rivers…a boat of course!
The reception area also gave us a hint of what was to come, with the tented structure being the same type in which we would spend the next four nights, only smaller. It was also a great chance to catch up on emails, as we had been notified the day before that the lodge was currently inbetween internet service providers, with no internet available at the main lodge.
Climbing into the boat, seemingly cut from the same mould as every other boat we rode while in Cambodia, we soon found ourselves winding our way down the immense Tatai River.
And here’s some video of the approach…
Our first evening at 4 Rivers was a pretty quiet one, simply enjoying the peace and quiet, and acclimatising to the ever so slight rocking of the room. It actually threw me a little bit at first, but after a few hours my body had, thankfully, readjusted!
On our first full day at 4 Rivers we decided to do their tour to the Tatai Waterfall. We had had significant rainfall, with accompanying massive claps of thunder during the night, so they weren’t sure what state the waterfall would be in. We were looking forward to having a swim in the rockpools and possibly even standing under the falls, but this is what greeted us…
No swimming for us!!
Despite this, they still took us up the path through the jungle so that we could get up close and personal with the fury of the rapids. This wasn’t your average 5 minute bushwalk through the jungle though! Before getting off the boat we all donned knee high socks.
And why is that, you might ask?
To stop the leeches from latching onto you!!
I swear, that short walk was through some of the most leech infested jungle I’ve ever seen! I stopped at one point and looked down, and without even trying I could see the little suckers straining up from their leafy anchors towards my tasty thighs…
Let’s just say I was the first into the jungle and the first out the other side!
On our return we took a detour up one of the tributaries of the Tatai River and spent some time at a smaller waterfall that didn’t have as large a catchment area as the previous falls. Much more pleasant!
Over the next few days we honestly didn’t do a whole lot at all!
Thunder storms, movies (they’ve got a great collection of DVDs), food, cocktails. So decadent…
On our third day there we did decide to get a little bit more active and went out on one of the kayaks. What a misadventure! The kayak must have had a slow leak in the bottom, because the further went, the lower the kayak got!
We were determined to kayak around the large island in the middle of the river, but by the time we got half way around I was starting to get stroppy because I could just see us getting swept away and having to hope for a rescue party! Thankfully we managed to get back just in time though. That’s what we get for getting off our lazy arses…
Here’s some video from our last day when we had a slightly better kayak. Happy days!
Of course I have to make mention of the food they had on offer at the lodge. It was sensational! Considering how remote they are, it’s remarkable how many high quality dishes they were able to offer us.
Consistent with almost every other place stayed at in Cambodia, breakfasts were a little average, but the lunches and dinners were amazing and were accompanied by a very good wine selection as well.
I won’t post up the dozens of photos that I took of the food (GASP!!), but rest assured you won’t be disappointed!
What a way to (almost) finish our time in Cambodia. The commitment to service shown by the staff was both enthusiastic and impeccable. Adonis, the site manager, deserves full credit for running such a tight ship, and for handling some of the more prickly customers that we observed during our time at the lodge. One couple in particular took it on themselves as the resident Khmer culinary experts to suggest to Adonis in great detail where the chef could improve each of the various dishes they tried… They lost all credibility though when they started recommending that less lime grass should be used. WTF? Lemon grass maybe, but lime grass…??
When I asked to speak with Adonis the next day after finishing a meal he appeared quite nervous, but on realising that I was actually complimenting the chef on a steak done brilliantly well, he almost collapsed in relief!
While 4 Rivers Lodge is a LOT more expensive than most other accommodation in Cambodia, it’s still nothing compared to what you’d pay in Australia for a similar experience.
If it’s a little bit of luxury that you’re looking for, then 4 Rivers Lodge is the place for you!