“The largest evergreen rainforest on Southeast Asia’s mainland”.
Where is Tatai?
The village of Tatai is nestled in Cambodia’s Cardamom Mountains in the Province of Koh Kong on the southwest coast. The largest evergreen rainforest on Southeast Asia’s mainland, it has been largely unexplored. Covered in the dense jungle it was one of the last strongholds of the Khmer Rouge. It is now home to birds of paradise, many rare animals, and even rarer orchids.
Our journey from Laem Sing to Tatai was by minivans and taxi.
During our time in Tatai, we chose to stay at Neptune Adventure, booked through booking.com. The jungle resort is located on the Tatai River, accessible only by boat.
With handcrafted bungalows that have thatch roofs and electricity from solar panels.
This resort is only for those who love to be in touch with nature. Our Eco bamboo lodge was set on stilts in the jungle by the riverside. It came with a large bedroom and a terrace.
A hammock and chairs on the terrace for lazing around. There is no electricity, no running water, and no WiFi here. None of the 4 lodges have doors or windows, allowing a flow of air through the lodge to keep them cool and be at one with nature.
The private bathroom used water from a well that was stored in a plastic 40 gallon tank. A pan is provided to pour water over ourselves when washing/showering and to flush the toilet.
The communal sitting/dining area is on stilts over the river. A ladder leading into the river, allowing a cooling dip in the river, before relaxing in the hammocks.
Delicious communal breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served here.
The lodge and bathroom have lighting, which is run off a battery and inverter, charged by a solar panel on the roof. A USB phone charging outlet is on the inverter but, that’s it in terms of power provision. The silence of the night was only broken by the sound of the wildlife.
Thomas, the owner, and his small team, including the 3 dogs, look after the guests very well. They will organise onward bus tickets, taxi transfers, visas, hotels etc. and can arrange tours with local companies.
Places of interest
The following morning, we chose to hike to Tatai Waterfall and kayak back along the river. After a very good breakfast of fresh fruit, followed by eggs as we liked, we set off.
The hike, about 3 miles in length, was through the jungle and took approximately 2 hours. It was very hot and very humid and the trail was rough at times.
Enclosed footwear is essential for this hike. We wore shorts and t-shirts. Fine, but we did get some scratches on our arms and legs as we brushed past the bamboo.
Thomas’s 3 dogs accompanied us on the hike.
Luckily for all of us, the dogs sniffed out a snake, seen by one of the others on the hike but not us. We did have a close encounter with a bat. The guide startled it and as it took off, clipping Tania’s head. Knocked off balance it flew straight into Guy’s face, smacking into his cheek! 🦇
Another member of the hiking party put his foot in an ants nest. He was jumping around in pain doing a great impression of a Scottish jig, whilst trying to remove his shoes. It was obvious he had been bitten many times by the little critters. 🐜🐜🐜🐜
Tatai Waterfall is a large rocky cascade located in a lush jungle setting on the Tatai river. Although it flows all year, in the dry season it is possible to swim in the natural pools at the bottom of the cascade. It is also possible to walk across the leading edge of the falls. This is not possible in the wet season, as the river is in full flow, making the falls more spectacular.
Also known as Ta Eysei waterfall. Legend has it that a man named Ta Tai and his son went fishing at the falls. A storm ensued and the flood waters washed away Ta Tai’s son. Four or five days later, the boy reappeared at the same spot from where he disappeared. Ta Tai’s son said that someone had taken him to a secret place, then he turned into a vampire and wanted to kill him.
Ta Eysei, a hermit suddenly appeared and saved the boy, returning him to where he had been taken from. From then on the waterfall was known as either Ta Tai Waterfall or Ta Eysei Waterfall.
On arrival after a long enjoyable hike, we emerged from the jungle to see the cascading waterfall. Desperate to plunge our hot sweaty bodies into the invitingly cool waters. Especially poor Guy.
Hike over, it was time to return to the resort. The staff had towed kayaks up the river so we could paddle them back. For those who didn’t want to, they could return in the boat, along with our possessions.
With the river originating in the Cardamom mountains, the waters are beautifully clear. The paddle back was very pleasant, as there is amazing scenery along the way. The journey paddling from the waterfall back to the resort took about an hour.