If you’re in Cambodia and starting to get a bit tired of busy backpacker towns, desperate to get away from it all and back to nature then why not stay in a jungle mountain lodge! We did just that when we discovered the amazing place that is Kep Mountain Lodge.
How we found Kep Mountain Lodge
From the busy and expensive Phnom Penh we had made our way down to Kampot to escape to the coast only to find that our chain backpacker hostel was full of disinterested Western staff and the kind of backpacker that everyone loves to hate: the ones that love to talk about themselves as loud as possible in order to make sure everyone is listening to their stories about how high they once got. We instantly hated it. That evening we went out for dinner to a small restaurant that had a notice board filled with posters for activities around Kampot and Kep. A poster for Kep Mountain Lodge caught my eye. We found it on Facebook and we were sold.
Background of Kep Mountain Lodge
Kep Mountain Lodge is run by Scott a British ex-pat who left to travel the world in 2004. He got ‘stuck’ in Cambodia where he now calls home. He bought the land in Kep around 8 years ago and worked in Phnom Penh and Kampot in order to get ready to set up his own business. As of this year he now runs Kep Mountain Lodge with his Cambodian wife La.
Scott wants to give people a different experience to the usual guesthouse. The land borders on the national park and it’s easy to get up there and carry on exploring the jungle. He’s made paths that explore the property and is continuously developing the land to make it even more amazing.
You have a range of choices for accommodation in Kep Mountain Lodge.
The most comfortable option is the double mud brick bungalow, built from natural materials and which stays naturally cool throughout the day. It also benefits from a western-style en-suite bathroom. The other options are a dorm style wooden longhouse, and a smaller ‘couples shack’ with shared bathrooms.
We decided to splash out for the double mud brick bungalow, which was still really reasonable. There was a mosquito net over the bed which was invaluable for holding back the mosquitos at night. It also had a nice balcony at the front with a few chairs.
You would be a fool to skip eating here. La’s food was incredible, some of the best we’ve had in Cambodia. The menu is traditional Cambodian food which is priced from around $3-$7 for a dish. It’s well worth the price as a lot of the dishes use fresh vegetables grown a few feet away in the vegetable patch.
We tried the famous Kampot pepper crab dish that is so popular in this part of Cambodia. It was the first time I’d tried proper crab and it has turned me into a fanatic. The dish was so tasty and fresh accompanied with steamed rice and a plate of veggies fried in garlic that were so fresh that we actually saw Scott picking them right before they were cooked.
The best meal had to be on our last night. When we arrived Scott explained that if they have guests staying a few nights they ask them if they want to have barbecued pork cooked over the outdoor firepit. Since Ben had a nasty bug when we arrived we waited til our last night to experience it. The pork had been marinating all day in La’s family recipe marinade and was flame grilled to perfection with a side of homemade coleslaw and potatoes with fried onions and peppers. After a long day of being dragged through the jungle looking for reptiles it barely touched the sides. It was to die for.
Ben was so at home here as the place is absolutely teeming with native wildlife. In our first few hours there we had already seen flying lizards, geckos, tokay gecko eggs, millipedes, a scorpion and frogs.
As well as the wildlife there are some other furry friends in the form of a group of 2 dogs and 2 adorable puppies. The mischievous foursome provided hours of entertainment, and of course cuddles. Ben was absolutely smitten.
One of the nicest things about Kep Mountain Lodge is the relaxed vibe there. Scott is friendly and easy to talk to and he’s happy to give you recommendations about what to do in the local area. You could easily spend the day relaxing in the garden, playing with the puppies and drinking a nice cold beer. But if you want to get out there is plenty to do in the surrounding area.
Under 100 metres away from the Mountain Lodge is the Butterfly Farm. It’s a small park that has a netted large butterfly dome, swings and some nice areas to relax. It’s a donation system to get in and you can see how much others have donated when you sign in. You can learn more about the life cycle of butterflies and about what you can find in Kep. It’s a nice way to spend an hour and there’s lots of seating where you could have a picnic if you wanted.
Of course the main attraction for us was jungle trekking. The mountain lodge borders on Kep National Park. It’s relatively small at 50km square but has a good path system that you can navigate by foot, motorbike/scooter or by mountain bike. The views of the coast are stunning, especially at sunset. There are various view points mapped out in the park and it’s well signposted. Keep an eye on the sides of the paths for tarantula burrows at dusk. Don’t worry though, they usually disappear back inside if you get too close.
The entrance fee is $1. You’ll only have to pay this if you come across the park ranger, who apparently tends to be asleep a lot. If you’re heading into the park just keep a few dollars on you in case he comes across you.
If you want to have a break from the jungle then a day out in Kep is perfect. It can be a little tricky to get from the mountain lodge to Kep beach but if Scott’s heading out he’s happy to give you a lift out. The beach area is small but busy with lots of cafés to relax in. Kep is popular with Cambodian tourists as well as foreigners so you will see a lot of people having picnics on the walkways.
The water is safe to swim in but is quite shallow. We decided against it as we had headed to Kep to sort some things out.
After hitting the beach you can head round the coast to Kep crab market for a bite to eat. You can eat in the market itself or choose one of the restaurants overlooking the sea. We opted to eat at Holy Crab which was reasonable for the location. As we ate our meal we watched fishermen catching the crab.
In order to get back to the mountain lodge you’ll have to have fun haggling with a tuk tuk driver. They will usually try and get more money out of you because of the rough roads. It should cost you around $4 but we ended up paying $5 as the roads were so tricky to navigate for the drivers we felt bad only giving $4!
If you have even longer round Kep you might also want to take a trip to Rabbit Island. It’s a beach island with cafés and restaurants, perfect for some peace and quiet from busy Kep beach. Unfortunately we didn’t have the time to get there but we’ve heard amazing things about this picturesque island and the boat ride there.
Stay at Kep Mountain Lodge
I hope I’ve convinced you that Kep and the Mountain Lodge are worth a visit if you’re in Cambodia. There’s a slower pace here perfect for lowering your heart rate. If you’d like to book a stay at Kep Mountain Lodge you can book directly on Air BnB or contact Scott through their Facebook page.
This post is not sponsored and I do not earn any commission from either Kep Mountain Lodge or AirBnb. My only aim is to promote a business that offers something different.
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