When you live in a foreign country it is all very exciting, but on days like Christmas even travel fans like me can become a bit melancholic. I started badly missing mulled wine, German Christmas cookies and markets, and of course family in the build up to the big day. So there was really only one thing we could do to find a distraction - to spend Christmas in the jungle, trekking in Mondulkiri, on the back of an elephant, surrounded by venemous snakes and spiders, and sleeping on hammocks beneath the stars.

After an eventful 8 hour bus journey (which deserves a separate blog post) we made it to Mondulkiri in east Cambodia and were picked up at the bus station by our Nature Lodge. This complex in the beautiful hilly forests of Mondulkiri had a treetop bar complete with a Christmas tree and gorgeous wooden bungalows.

MondulkiriThe all-important bar

Jungle furniture
Our bed for the night (in the bungalow)

We had an early night as we had a two-day jungle trek ahead of us. So the next day we left the comforts of our bunglaow early in the morning and drove to an indigenous village where we met our mahout (elephant guide) and his elephant. The elephant was a gorgeous 20 year old nameless girl, so we called her Rudolph to suit the festive vibe.

Rudolph was our rock, carrying our food supplies and camping equipment with grace and ease. And when we had to cross raging jungle rivers she kindly let us sit on her back as well. But apart from those river crossings, we bravely trekked through the jungle for about 6 hours each day on foot.
Trekking in Mondulkiri through the thick jungle vegetation. Follow that elephant!
Packed-lunch, jungle style - sticky rice with scrambled eggs and soy sauce in a banana leaf
One of the three river crossings

When we reached camp we started a fire (well Chris did, anyway) and had a refreshing shower under the nearby waterfalls, whilst our tour guide went fishing to catch some dinner.

Jungle shower…
….colder than it looked!

Later on in the evening we noticed that the wind had picked up, so the idea of sleeping in a hammock being blown around was not very appealing, nor very safe with branches crashing down all around us. So we opted to hang up our hammocks in the wooden huts nearby, only realizing the next morning that the hut next to us had a huge, hand-sized venemous spider in it, so god knows what was in our hut. Trekking in Mondulkiri is truly adventurous! I felt fairly safe in my hammock though as it had an integrated mosquito net, so even if a spider had fallen onto me or a snake had crawled over me, it wouldn’t have touched my body - hopefully.

Thanks to the US army for supplying us with a spider proof hammock
Our five-star accomodation

As Rudolph spent the night roaming around the jungle, probably looking for some male company, she looked a bit dirty when she came back the next morning, so our mahout decided to give her a bath before we headed back to the hotel.

I think Rudolph liked her bath

The trek back was a bit more exhausting as we were stiff from the day before, tired from our night in the hammock, and a lot of the trek back was uphill without much shelter from the fierce midday heat. But it was definitely all worth it and an unforgettable Christmas! I highly recommend trekking in Mondulkiri if you don’t mind roughing it a little bit.

I had to hold onto a walking stick with both hands during our last ascent - have I mentioned we are doing Everest Base Camp in a few months? :-/
We trekked to roughly where the yellow arrow is pointing, and back again

[Disclaimer: I have not been paid by the Nature Lodge to review their hotel or tour, but I was so impressed that I wanted to share their details.]

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About Tammyonthemove

Tammy & Chris are a couple hailing from Germany and England, meaning between them they are efficient and polite, but unable to talk about football. Find out why they stopped pushing pens around the British civil service to travel the world on their blog.

14 Thoughts on “Welcome to the jungle - trekking in Mondulkiri

  1. Aww Rudolph looks super cute especially when she’s enjoying her bath! Sounds like a pretty good time in the jungle 😀 and WOW to Everest base camp…rather you than me 🙂

  2. RUDOLPH. IN LOVE! I had the same sort of mulled wine nostalgia when I lived in Thailand 🙂

    Lela - http://www.LelaLONDON.com

  3. She really was the cutest, albeit naughty elephant Toni. Bit anxious about Everest, but we are training for it at the moment, so it will hopefully be ok!

    It is funny what kind of things you start missing when you live abroad Lela. I had cravings for everything from chocolate to hering salad. 🙂

  4. That Christmas tree looks so funny. I agree that doing some crazy awesome on a big holiday when you’re away from home is a great way to celebrate. I went hiking and rappelling in the Andes near Mendoza, Argentina on Christmas Day three years ago. The funny thing is I totally forgot I did that until I read this post.

  5. Yes, Stephanie, the tree was a bit pathetic, but at least they had a tree. Made it feel more christmassy. Hiking in the Andes sounds amazing too. Definitely the way to go.

  6. Looks pretty awesome! I spent my first Christmas away from home on a night bus and then in a really shit Welsh town that was meant to be beautiful! Ah well, you live and learn!

  7. Oh dear, that is pretty bad Arianwen. Night buses are bad anyway, but on Christmas it must be very frustrating. Next time you knjow what not to do and can plan accordingly. 🙂

  8. This looks awesome! I’ve never slept in a hammock though…I’d be a little nervous of falling out the way I sleep…

  9. Ha ha, so was I Andrea. Also didn’t dare moving in case the mosquito net moves and opens up a hole for spiders or snakes to crawl in. It wasn’t too uncomfortable though actually. Would highly recommend it.

  10. What an incredible adventure! I definitely hope to be asking you for more info so that I can follow in your footsteps! Such an adventure 🙂

  11. It really was. Very happy to meet for an ice coffee or beer in the Penh if you want any tips! 🙂

  12. That’s a unique way to spend the holidays! I missed mulled wine this year too. It was fun celebrating in Korea, but it just didn’t feel as festive as it would back at home.

  13. I even started dreaming about mulled wine Audrey! At least you get the cold weather in Korea, which must make it feel a little less weird. But I understand what you mean. You can’t beat x-mas at home!

  14. wow, amazing adventure. I like the elephant ride, this is a very friendly nature animal. in trekking adventure on k2 base camp and Concordia trek, we can’t find any live animal view adventure and take them picture.
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