Koh kong to Jiphat, central cardamoms

Discussion in 'Cambodia Road Trip Reports' started by andy_bkk, Feb 11, 2009.

  1. andy_bkk

    andy_bkk Member

    I did a ride from Koh Kong to Jiphat through the central and southern cardamom mountains in late December. I was armed with the Gecko Map, Ultimate Cambodia guidebook, and a GPS with the excellent map from the mapcenter website that is talked about on here. Apart from not having the track from Jiphat to Highway 48 it was excellent.

    From Koh Kong town it’s an easy ride over the first bridge and another 11km until you reach a fork with a big dirt road and a “central cardamoms protected forest” sign. There is a checkpoint and a shack here with guards but they paid no attention to me as I rode through. From here it’s a scenic ride on a good dirt road to Russei Chrum district.

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    I stopped in Russei Chrum for a drink and some fruit and then continued on. This is where things get interesting. The good road ends and morphs into a single track through the forest for basically the entire 65 km or so to Jiphat. The first 20 km are on a nice track over some mountains. Though it was single track most of the way I could make pretty good time on this stretch.

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    After 20 km there is big river where I paid a few thousand riel to some kids for use of their tree branch bridge over the deep part of the river. Across the river is the village of Araing. There is big sign with a picture of a Siamese crocodile in the main village area but no actual crocs.

    From here the trail narrows into an even small single track through the jungle. I took quite a few smacks on the helmet from tree branches. About 10 km from Araing there is a fork with two small single tracks (Ultimate Cambodia calls it the ‘Kamlot fork’)

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    The nastiest (and most fun) part of the trip starts here. There are a several mountains to go up and over and I managed to get over them only dropping the bike once on one of the downhills. There are tree branch bridges and planks over several river crossings, but almost all of them look way too flimsly for an XR 250 so more often than not I was riding into the riverbed and back up the other side.

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    One of the crossings required riding into an erosion crevice barely big enough for the bike, so it was necessary to put my feet on the trail above and coax the bike up the embankment to the other side of the river.

    After about 20km of fun single track and river crossings I reached a small bridge over a ditch. Unfortunately this bridge was on its last legs. It was missing a few sections and nearly gave out when I walked across it. No way was I going to try to get the bike over it. I looked all over for a side trail going around it but there wasn’t one. There were a few pieces of wood around so I went to work trying to stabilize the bridge. I patched it up as best I could and unloaded the bike. I drove the front wheel onto the bridge. It seemed ok so I slowly started to cross. As soon as the full weight of the bike was on the bridge I heard the sound of wood cracking. I gunned it and shot over to the other side of the ditch. When I looked back THE BRIDGE WAS COMPLETELY DESTROYED! The ditch was only a meter deep so while I probably would have been ok if I had dropped in, getting the bike out would have been tough. GPS where I destroyed the bridge is N 11.26.375, E 103.31.238. Hopefully it’s repaired by now.

    Shortly after this close call I reached a shack with a tollbooth in the middle of the jungle. 2000 riel to use the bridges up ahead. I tried, using my limited khmer language skills and gestures, to tell the old woman at the tollbooth about the bridge I took out. She replied, also with a mix of khmer and gestures, that she needs money to eat before attempting any bridge repair. Fair enough.

    The rest of the way to Jiphat is easier and just before town there is a nice river and waterfall down a side road. I cleaned up there and rode the rest of the way into Jiphat. There are at least 4 guesthouses in town. I took the first one on the road coming from the mountains. Dinner, breakfast and the room for $10.

    The next day I crossed the main river in town and took the road back out to highway 48. It’s not in the mapcenter map but you basically follow the main road (a massive sandpit most of the way) for 15 km back to the highway.

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    This puts you about 4km from Andong Tuk and the second bridge.
    All in all a great dirt ride for those who like trails. There is still a lot of thick jungle in the area.
     
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  3. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Andy
    Nice one, thanks for contributing.
     
  4. BignTall

    BignTall Ol'Timer

    Andy terrific report and great info. Thanks for the heads up. Have you continued on through Jiphat ever on the trail?
     
  5. andy_bkk

    andy_bkk Member

    The trail into Jiphat ends at the river in town. There is a fork in the trail around 20km north of Jiphat that (according to Ultimate cambodia and the gecko map) goes through the mountains and eventually ends up in Kirirom national park. Haven't heard of anyone doing it though.
     

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