Cambodia, a captivating Southeast Asian country, boasts a plethora of attractions beyond the world-renowned Angkor Wat. From vibrant cities to stunning natural landscapes, this country has much to offer adventurous tourists.
Phnom Aural, the tallest peak in Cambodia, stands at 1,813 meters tall (other sources give elevations between 1,771 and 1,667 meters). It is located in the eastern part of the Cardamom Mountains, in Aoral District, Kampong Speu Province. To protect the biodiversity of the mountains, the Phnom Aural Wildlife Sanctuary was established.
Why Climb Mount Aural?
The Mount Aural trek takes climbers through forests with opportunities to catch a glimpse of the wildlife in the area, including leopards, bears, boars, and monkeys. It is also the highest point in Cambodia, which might appeal to the peak-bagger.
A variety of animals can be observed in the forest surrounding Mount Aural. With some luck, you may encounter monkeys, boars, bears, birds, and several species of big cats, such as leopards and the Asian golden cat, during your trek.
Best Time to Climb Mount Aural
The Mount Aural trek is best done during the drier months of November to March. There’s one trail to take, and depending on your fitness levels, you should allow 8 continuous hours of trekking to reach the summit and return, or else split it into a 2-day overnight camping trek. It is best done in a group with a guide.
Climbing Experience & Itinerary
The terrain of Mount Aural can be split into 2 distinct sections: the dusty road and bamboo forests. The road takes an average of 2 hours to complete and is not seen as a challenge to most climbers. The longest section, the bamboo forest, is steep and requires good physical fitness to complete, especially if the weather is humid. It usually takes climbers 5 hours to walk through the dense forest before reaching the top of Aural.
Conquer Mount Aural’s Majestic Heights in a Thrilling 2-Day Trek
The two-day itinerary for climbing Mount Aural offers an exciting and immersive experience in the heart of the Cardamom Mountains.
On Day 1, you will start early in the morning, energizing yourself with breakfast and gearing up for the hike. A motorbike ride from Srae Kan 3 will take you to the trailhead, where your adventure begins. As you make your way through the scenic route, you will arrive at Camp 1 for a well-deserved rest. From there, the trek continues through the challenging and beautiful bamboo forest, eventually leading you to High Camp, where you will set up your tents or sleeping bags and enjoy some relaxation time. Lunch, a refreshing stroll in the bamboo forest, and dinner with socializing will make your day memorable. Finally, you can retreat to your sleeping quarters for a good night’s sleep.
Day 2 starts with an early wake-up call followed by breakfast preparation and consumption. The day’s highlight is the ascent from High Camp to the summit of Mount Aural. As you reach the top, take in the panoramic views, visit the Buddha shrine, and capture stunning photographs to commemorate your achievement. Afterward, it’s time to begin your descent via High Camp and Camp 1, retracing your steps back to the starting point. This two-day itinerary ensures a well-paced and fulfilling climbing experience, allowing you to embrace the natural beauty and tranquility of Mount Aural while conquering its majestic heights.
Safety & Accessibility
Climbing during the dry months (November to March) is recommended due to less challenging weather conditions and fewer mosquitoes.
Malaria is prominent in the area, so carry insect repellent and sleep with a mosquito net to minimize the risk of contracting the disease.
Heat exhaustion and dehydration can be avoided by carrying enough water and taking regular rests during the hike.
The Mount Aural hike isn’t recommended for solo travelers. It’s best to go in small groups.
Permits are not required to climb Mount Aural.
Tourist Police: 097 778 0002
Getting There and Away
Phnom Penh International Airport is the nearest airport. The preferred way to travel to the starting point is by taxi or privately hired car. Climbers can also choose to take several local buses, although this will take several hours more. The distance covered from Phnom Penh Airport to the starting point is around 150 km, and the journey can take around 3 hours by road.
Tips for Responsible and Safety-Conscious Climbers
Spread your tourism dollar towards businesses that promote environmentally sustainable practices, as there are reports of illegal logging in the Cardamom Mountains despite being a protected area.
Tips for Women Travelers
It is recommended that women travelers avoid hiking alone on Mount Aural. While Cambodia is generally considered safe and hassle-free, local women tend to dress conservatively. Following a similar dress code may help prevent unwanted attention during your trip.
Photo credit to the owners.