Virachey National Park is one of the top priority areas for conservation in Southeast Asia.
The park is located in Ratanakiri and Stung Treng Provinces in northeastern Cambodia covering an area of 3,325 km² and protecting flora and fauna of international conservation priority.
Many ethnic minority peoples live around the park.
At 3,325 square kilometers Virachey is the largest national park in Cambodia.
Together with adjacent protected areas in Laos and Vietnam collectively forms one of the largest areas of protected forest in Asia.
The human population adjacent to Virachey National Park is characterised by a high percentage of ethnic minority groups. The majority are Kreung, Kavet, Brao, Lao and Lun people. Smaller numbers of Tampuen, Kachok, ethnic Chinese, ethnic Khmer and ethnic Vietnamese people are also found in the area.
Most of these live in 60 villages, some of which were located inside what is now Virachey National Park. The reliance on natural resource use inside the protected area is critical to the survival of the local communities. The main products harvested are rattan, bamboo and malva nuts.
Hunting for food and trade occurs in the forests of Virachey National Park and although a consistent decline in wildlife populations has been observed, reports still indicate that tiger, Himalayan black bear, Malayan sun bear, guar, Sambar deer, muntjak and civet are being hunted. Turtles, monitor lizards and pangolin are the most commonly traded animals. Rabbits, forest rats and other smaller animals are usually hunted for subsistence closer to the villages.
Tours around Virachey
Trekking trips into the park and within the buffer zone around the park to minority villages can be organised from Banlung but ensure that you choose carefully. Tourism is new in this region and insensitive visits to the park and villages do more harm than good. A good start is Mr. Thon Soukhon, Warden of Ecotourism at Virachey National Park, tel: +855(0)77965196.
There are currently three tours into the National Park. They are a short tour featuring an overnight stay in the forest, a medium tour featuring a river journey into the park and an extended wilderness trek deep inside the park to the spectacular Phnom Veal Thom.
Group sizes are kept at a maximum of 8 people to reduce impacts on the villages you visit and to maintain the quality and enjoyment of your ecotourism experience. You are also more likely to see or hear wildlife in smaller groups.