Phnom Aural – the highest point of Cambodia (1813 m)
®Extreme sport is not about you suffering and risking, it’s about your positive emotions!
With the right approach and professional organization,
particularly in the matters of uncompromised safety, climbing this mountain can bring a lot of positive emotions to the most refined connoisseurs of adventures.
guarantee this by my experience, knowledge, skills and abilities. By my name.
This is my program, and I am 100% responsible for everything that happens on the route. My partners are the best professionalsthat can be found in the Kingdom of Cambodia.
The commercial trips by this route will show you a 1/1000 part of what you could see and hear, while your deadly fatigue is guaranteed, and the high risk of injury is inevitable.My approach to security
will satisfy the most demanding requirements!
All guests are provided with the proven high-tech functional equipment: backpacks, hammocks and tents (The North Face, Splav, Love Alpine).
We use Zeiss
optics for the observation of fauna in the day and nighttime.
In the course of the route I teach 2 things on the background:
- Basic trekking with practical skills
- Basic survival in the tropics (do not panic, I'll show and tell you all, but whether to use it immediately or not is up to you:)
You will learn everything about the survival fairy tales that you see on TV from the "experienced ones" and various "gurus" of the Internet.
A lot of details and ideas that will stay with you for your lifetime are my copyright and thus cannot be placed hereat the public domain. In any case, you will get more than you expect
At the end of the route you will receive a certificate of your ascent with an indication of the knowledge acquired.You can hang it in a frame together with the photos at home or your workplace, put as wallpaper on your channel, etc: let others and envy
The load distribution, alternating running distances, halts, photo shoots, meals and snacks are planned to evenly distribute physical activity throughout the route.
«VIP-1: Super Boss»2 days, 1 night.
Getting to the foot of the mountain by helicopter. Maximum comfort, fruit and drinks. Your load is 3 liters of water, a first aid kit andsnacksof nuts, dried fruit and juice. An individual attendant for each guest, insurance on the route, photo and bivouac works.Day 1-
departure to the foot, trekking to the "Camp 1", lunch. Trekking to the "Camp 2", relaxation, walks around the neighborhood, watching animals and birds, campfire dinner, overnight in the house or outside in the hammock under the tent - upon your request.Day 2-
breakfast, climbing to the top of the mountain, dinner and rest. Helicopter evacuation from the top.
NOTE: All versions of the route can be changed at any point of time upon the request of guests with any amendments, if it is technically feasible and does not contradict the laws of physics andthe Kingdom of Cambodia.
«VIP-2: Boss»3 days, 2 nights.
Transfer by helicopter to the foot of the mountain. Maximum comfort, fruit. Your load is 3 liters of water, a first aid kit and snacks of nuts, dried fruit and juice. An individual attendant for each guest, insurance on the route, photo, and bivouac works.Day 1–
transfer to the mountain foot, trekking to the "Camp 1", lunch. Trekking to the "Camp 2", relaxation, walks around the neighborhood, watching animals and birds, campfire dinner, overnight in the house or outside in the hammock under the tentupon your request.Day 2 -
breakfast, climbing to the top, lunch. Staying at the top and surrounding area, relaxing, watching animals and birds, campfire dinner, sleepin the house or outside in the hammock under the tentupon your request.Day 3 -
breakfast, descending from the top, transfer by two means of transport: off-road motor-block carriage and then a comfortable minivan.
NOTE 1: if you have time, we can spend the night at a house in a Khmer villageand communicate with the very positive local people, observe their way of life and interesting relationships, ride a bike through the village, swim with the kids in a warm river, taste the local cuisine and drink rather weak local rice wine, buy something to remember or give something to the locals- in both cases, they will be very happy.
NOTE 2: All route options can be changed at any point with any amendments, if it is technically feasible and does not contradict the laws of physics and the Kingdom of Cambodia.
«STANDARD» and «STANDARD+»3 or 4 days / 2 or 3 nights.
Transfer by a comfortable minivan on-road, then a fitted motor-block off-road trip up to the foot of the mountain. Your load is 10-15 kg: belongings, three-day food stock and water. 30% of the cargo will be left at "Camp 1", so the trekking to the "Camp 2" and ascendance to the top will be done with lightweight backpacks: a daily supply of water and food, first aid kit, personal belongings. And we’ll be cooking on fire.1-st day.
Gettingto the foot of the mountain. Lunch. Ascent to the "Camp 1", relaxation, walks around the neighborhood, watching animals and birds, campfire dinner, overnight under roof or outside in a hammock under the tent – up to you.2-nd day.
Breakfast, trekking to the "Camp 2". Lunch. Ascent to the very top of the mountain. Exploration of the surrounding area, rest, watching animals and birds, campfire dinner, night sleep.3-d day.
Descent from the topand transfer back in the same way.The option «STANDARD+», 4 days and 3 nights,
is the same as that of «STANDARD», but with an overnight stay in a Khmer village on the way back, including communication with the nice local people, observation of their way of life and relationships, a bike ride through the village, a swim with the kids in a warm river, local cuisine and drinks(weak local rice wine). You can also buy something from them for good memories or just give them something - in both cases, they will be very happy.
NOTE: All versions of the route can be changed at any point with any amendments at your request, if it is technically feasible and does not contradict the laws of physics or the Kingdom of Cambodia.
This program is for the lovers of nature and jungle who don’t hurry. We get transferred to a rather distant point from the mountain foot for the deeper jungle exploration of local flora and fauna. We’ll also have an opportunity to get to know the people around and obtain special survival skills.
Ever dreamt to live alone in the jungle? Or just to stay in the wild for some time - a day or two, maybe ten - to build a hut near a spring, leisurely wander around, listen to the silence, learn more about yourself and your abilities, understand yourself? Or do you want to obtain special individual skills, having at your disposal only a lighter and a knife?
Contact me to discuss the options I can offer:
- Help you get used to the terrain you like
- Teach you the basics of survival in this area
- Accompany you closely/ on the distance of visual contact or voice call / remotely control the situation
NOTE: All versions of the route can be changed at any point with any amendments at your request, if it is technically feasible and does not contradict the laws of physics or the Kingdom of Cambodia.The aforementioned programs offer quite flexible dates and terms of the ascent to Phnom Aural. Please contact Andrey Yagodzinsky on Facebook or firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss the route, which will precede the ascent or follow the descent. Andrey is the contact person for my English speaking guests and also the guide for Angkor temples in Siem Reap.
THE ROUTE PHOTOS.Phnom Aural
is the highest peak of Cambodia - 1813 meters above the sea level. It is located in the eastern part of the mountain massif Kravan, in the province of Kampong Spi. This is exactly the provincewith the sugar palm trees, from which they make the world famous palm sugar assigned to the highest level of global recognition - the prestigious status of GI (Geographical Indicator). There are only 2 products like that in Cambodia. The second one is also a world famous Kampot pepper.
Why do you have to go to this mountain? There are several mighty reasons:
1. Because it is the highest point of the country and ticking this item is a matter of honor for any traveler with a bit of self-esteem.
2. Because due to its rather complicated terrain it is covered with an untouched primary forest with all the consequences. As some sources say, they’ve got wild elephants and tigers... Well, that’s unlikely, but still there is a lot to see without getting bored
For example, the rare hornbill birds noisily fly over your head in such frequency, as if there are more of them than the sparrows at the Phnom Penh market.
3. This place is more conveniently located for a quick access than other primary forest distant provincesthat takedozens of hours of drive to them.
4. Aural mountain has everything to get a lot of positive emotions and the ascent is a real adventure that you will remember for the rest of your life - I guarantee that.
And there is something else on that mountain... It’s not a coincidence that monks and believers come up there despite all the inconveniences on their way. Probably the AURA?
Looking at a fossilized brain on top of Phnom Aural and thinking Hamlet thoughts of the past, present and future…
A Buddhist pagoda in a village near the mountain foot. That’s a great starting point of our “EXPEDITION” route. Get blessed first!
The stacks of the red wood can be found at any backyard of the area. As long as you drive through the forest Khmer villages, as many stacksyou can find.
Red wood is in a very high demand on the Eastern and Asian markets. Thanks to this situation, Cambodia will soon be out of these valuable creations of the nature. Now people already have to break quite far through the wild jungle, but Khmers are poor and aren’t lazy. Combine that with the price of $2000 for 1 cubic meter and you understand that all the red trees will be gone very soon.
So please do come over, look, touch and smell while you can.
Local kids are always nimble, curious, colorful, stylish and positive. This speaks quite well for their parents!
This is a path in the foothills through the cane plantations. A clean fragrant air that you breathe feels like drinking it by thirsty gulps. An endless blue sky above, a ubiquitous positivity, some universal serenity begins to fill your whole being... And having filled the whole internal volume, it is poured out with kind words and good memories. I think it is definitely worth flying over here through the half of the globe.
This is the only photo of Phnom Aural’s peak. That small thing on the central flange. I got lucky to take this shot as mostly the peak was covered with the clouds.
This is us crossing our first brook, which is very picturesque and classic to the jungle with a milk-warm water. Those who walked through such rivers know that feeling when you come to the stream and just want to get into it and stay there forever. Simply sit lazily, looking around and not wanting anything
Leaving this water is the same as to spit out your favorite candy that has just resolved on your tongue. Okay, got some positive vibes, let’s move on.
First local fauna
I am very lucky in finding caves in Cambodia, I get to see them constantly. Sometimes I find them in the places where locals have gone many times. Am I a caveman?
This cave has a rather complicated access: you have to crawl down 5 meters by the slippery rocks and then climb up again. If you look right and left you’ll see the steep walls. My time was quite short so I left the survey for the later. I think there are more caves than just this one there.
I always say that Cambodia is only starting these days. Shondong cave in Vietnam has been discovered yet in 1991 and they started letting in the tourists only by 2009. And there are 90 mln people, while Cambodia with its 15 mln is still almost a no man land.
There are many small places in the bamboo thickets of the jungle, where there is everything to quickly build a long-term shelter and organize a bivouac fire. If you know how. Although when frightened, you can actually build something quite usable. But we must keep in mind that these places are well known and loved by all the local animals - flying, running and crawling. So you know how to resist it, right? If not, don’t roam the jungle without me
Overnight. Behind me you see a classic version of the bivouac with a hammock and an army poncho as a tent.
The backpack contains two devices from the basic list of equipment that is always with me: a hydrator and a water filter. Both products are made by my very favorite manufacturer “Platypus”.
And if the hydrator can be attributed to the professional delights, it is difficult to overestimate the totem value of the water filter where the path is routed from source to source, while the quality of water in springs brings different gloomy thoughts.
Land crab. The food.
Further and further, deeper and deeper. Interesting and exciting!
Someone has already been staying here. They’ve even left a hanged polyethylene. Which we used as the rain started its drops. But in the rainy season all drops can become a shower with 1m visibility and streams rapidly rushing on the slopes, washing off everything on their path. A tractor for example can be carried about 50 meters down the hill.
Unidentified caterpillar. Dangerous? Not dangerous? I always say this: ® All that you see and cannot identify with 100% confidence is considered to be dangerous. ® Be afraid.
It’s better to let your friends laugh at you 100 times than let your relatives weep over you once.
We came up to thehouse of forest Khmers. Here we were joined by two local guides who stayed with us for the following two days.
There’s supposed to be the peak of Phnom Aural, occupied by a cloud.
All the way we saw the top in the clouds and prepared ourselves to find a constant rain over there.
A photo to boast with «Men's health» - the main worldwide men's magazine (I wonder how it got here) and some pointer to somewhere in Khmer language. I hope there is nothing obscene
"The road" looks like this. It is harmless, but you can drive through it only on a motorblock or some special equipment. Such road is a paradise for Endure or four-wheeler riders and other swamp mixers
There are hundreds of kilometers of such roads here, all different - for every taste.
One same road depending on the season could look like on the photo above...
Or like this... By the way, a keffiyeh has just jumped off into the water from that branch. It’s a very beautiful local snake. They usually are night creatures resting during the day, hidden in their hollows, nests, crust cracks and ON BRANCHES AMONG THE LEAVES. So while moving through the jungle we must not only watch where we put our feet but also what we touch with our hands. We must carefully explore the branches hanging over and on the sides of the path. You cannot run in the jungle for at least two reasons: to see more and stay alive
That’s the wood transporting "road".
Tasting the Khmer home grown tobacco. Khmer people smoke tobacco grown in their gardens and wrapped in a leave. Depending on the leave and tobacco the effect may be different. Those who tried it, say it’s cool. I have quit smoking 10 years ago. But I also triedit this time, and once again got reassured that I did well by quitting
Got lucky on a night hunt at our camp: a great example of a centipede. It was caught near the brook after dusk. After its bite you will have three or four days of infernal pain at the spot of the bite and a guaranteed fever. And if you are allergic to the protein toxins, it can have the same effect as the bite of a venomous snake. So it’s not recommended to roam in the jungle at night without me
All these biters possess a surprising ability that unites them all: slip somewhere into some secret place and pretend that they are not there. Therefore I teach everyone on my route to remembered for a lifetime:
® Any subject of your property that you left on the ground unattended for more than 10 seconds (shoes, backpack, clothes, bag of food, etc.) and has an internal volume or folds must first be visually inspected, gently shaken, lit with flashlight, and only then put on.
There’s my favorite hiking mug in my hands - a coconut shard with tea made of herbs and leaves found around the camp. Next to me is our guide Mr. Roma, a stunning connoisseur of the local flora and fauna. A funny guy.
I wonder how can a man live his life without ever sitting here with Roma near the campfire with a shard of the coconut and a herbal jungle tea? How?
I do not understand that.
BTW our guide uses aKhmer scarf wrapped around his waist as the bottom of the dress instead of the pants. Locals wear it during the holidays, when they are not busy with their hard work. It’s very practical and gives you some bottom ventilation. However, you need to get used to the idea that not only a pleasant breeze, but also all kinds of living creatures in the area havedirect access to your unprotected areas of delicate skin under such a kilt.
The one who knows it, he will understand me: in some parts of the globe it is much easier to teach localsuse the radio and armored troop-carrier than wear trousers and shoes
There, near the brook we have also caught two quite well-fed frogs and a crab in the evening. Everything was cooked in accordance with the classical canons and reverently eaten by the adherents of the survival science.
On the left of the photo is Richard, a Frenchman. He is a chef and owner of the cafe in Siem Reap, so there were no doubts about the quality of the meals he cooked
Classics of the genre, an exemplary image that can be placed in the textbooksconcerning spending the jungle night in a hammock. Pay attention to the mounting points of the bed and anti mosquito poncho as a tent. Duringthe powerful showers and stormsthe attachment point should be two times lower by the treetrunk and two more mounting points added to the tent. Oh, and do not forget that the tent is not fixed by the eyelets at the tree, it is only stretched through them with a rope pulled between the trees.
I think everything is clear? If not - you are welcome to our hut, I teach directly on the ground.
BTW, if the hammock and tent are mounted correctly, you can safely enjoy any tropical shower, even the most powerful one, as a life-time to remember fun attraction in the jungle, not a boring emergency.
There are a lot of fire traces from the lightning strikes in the jungle. Especially in the mountains, sometimes every 5-10 meters. If you have been into the mountains during a thunderstorm with lightning you know how it is. I got a couple of especially tough times: it was a full sense of the impact of mortar shelling - whistling, hissing, sharp slaps, flares and explosions that hit you straight in the brain. This is where the knowledge and skills on a thunderstorm in the mountains can save lives. Do you have this knowledge? I do.
The view of the valley from the middle of our ascent. We came here from somewhere out of the horizon
A needle ofa porcupine. If we had a little more time, we could hunt: a porcupine is a fairly easy prey, it is also easy to cook and its meat is delicious and nutritious enough.
A short rest. Lying on the ground even for a short time is forbidden. Actually, you can, but you must first put something on the ground. And it has to be of a sufficient size to prevent insects and other living creatures from crawling into your clothing. For example there are myriads of land leeches over there.
We have met this monk and his friend three times: they have passed us at the first camp, then we outraced them at the second shelter, and later once again at the descent. It turned out that they did not know the way to the top and went up by their whims. The trail is sometimes not visible for more than 100-150 meters, which is enough to get lost. So they constantly strayed from the road and got seriously lost several times, but it didn’t bother them at all as no one hurries in such a heat.
They say that a lonely French tourist has disappeared at this mountain several years ago. We haven't found any confirmation on that, but locals say they've been asked for help with searching for some barang (a foreigner in Khmer)
Rhinoceros bug is the totem object of the oriental medicine. Caught at the right time, in the correct phase of the moon, crushed into powder and drunk by a man at the certain time again it is good for the potency they say
A weird claw (possibly a pathologic disease) of an unknown animal, offered by the forest Khmers as an item for sale. We could not determine the animal owner of the claw because of the translation difficulties. But it’s a clear fact that it belonged to someone strong and scary.
I’m still looking for the answer, though I could not purchase it due to the current economic situation.
The iron. There’s still so much iron in the troubled land of Kampuchea. Different iron – from a harmless to the fatal one...
It does not take much effort to find this iron, you just have to get a little off the trails. But you never know what your blade touches in the ground, so better not. Although I do not know any digger to be stopped by such warnings
A pretty and harmless millipede will not scare anyone. But neither can you eat one. I mean it is possible but makes no sense as it is non-digestible.
There are tons of mushrooms on Phnom Aural. Especially starting from 800 meters above the sea level.
And here it is - the top!!! As it should be - with a dance of the winners at the site in front of the altar of the local Custodian. We did it!
Then the group photo with our tired but happy faces
And a group photo with my own pennant. Contrary to all expectations that it’s constantly raining on the slopes and at the top, only two short rains happened. One in the evening during our dinner and one at night, while sleeping. In general we got lucky! Dinner. Lights out.
New photo after the morning tea again, but now with the flag of the company, which has granted me the equipment for testing. Now down to the plains.
This photo I made on the way back. Here I am with the manliest magazine of all times again, but now without the sign in Khmer, it’s gone somewhere.
Behind me ismy Khmer expeditionary backpack with a capacity of 50 liters. It is made of two components: the usual household bag made of anything strong and a Khmer headscarf mounted in a special way. This scarf is all in one: a towel and a blanket, anti mosquito net, ponchos and even pants. In this case it’s the backpack straps. On the way back our conductors’ bags were stuffed with leaves, grass andbark - all for the spices, food and medicine.
Well, that's it: we sit back on the jungle tuk-tuk, as we named the motor block and move forward by the washed out forest roads to the benefits of civilization...
Until next time.
Translator ®Andrew Yagodzinsky