Rare Irrawaddy River Dolphin sighted here!

Trip Start May 01, 2010
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Trip End Apr 30, 2011


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Flag of Cambodia  , Krâchéh,
Monday, December 20, 2010

We are staying in the pleasant riverside town of Kratie. We came here with one purpose, to see the critically endangered Irrawaddy river dolphin. Found in only a handful of countries, there are fewer than 70 left on the Mekong between Kratie and the Laos border. There are schemes in place to protect the dolphins in this part of the Mekong including a fishing ban and dolphin watching which provides an alternative source of income to the fishermen.

We arrived in Kratie around lunchtime and headed out mid-afternoon. We took a tuk-tuk 15km along the river down a pretty road lined with shady trees and wooden houses, to the little village of Kampi. Here we hired a small boat which took us out into the river. Within minutes we had dolphins all around us and we spent the next hour watching them as they fed, hearing them exhale through their blowholes when they surfaced. Irrawaddy dolphins are dark grey and have bulbous heads and small dorsal fins situated far back on the body. We were pleased to see that our boat driver was respectful about keeping our distance from the dolphins, turning the engine off before we got too close and letting them come to us if they wished. It was a real privilege watching such rare and beautiful creatures. We hope that they do not go the way of the Yangtze river dolphin which was officially declared extinct a couple of years ago.

On the return journey back to Kratie we stopped off at Phnom Sombok, a small hill with a wat on top. We climbed the many stairs to the top and watched the sky turn pink and gold as the sun set over the Mekong.

The next day we took a small ferry across to the island of Koh Trong and hired a couple of bikes to explore around. The pretty island is similar to Don Dhet and Don Khon in Laos, with wooden houses around the perimeter and fields of rice and vegetables in the middle. It too had a sleepy, somnolent feel and the islanders were particularly welcoming. On one side of the island is a floating village populated by Vietnamese. And on the western shore lives another rarity, the Mekong mud turtle, although we didn’t see one of those.

Tomorrow we head out of rural Cambodia and into the capital Phnom Penh. After weeks of small towns and quiet countryside we hope it doesn’t come as too much of a shock!

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Comments

Mummy on

Happy Christmas in Cambodia. I love Dolphins - they are so much nicer than humans!

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