Aiming to increase people’s connection with nature and raise awareness of the importance of preserving existing resources, the Reeksai and Youth Eco Ambassador organisations joined forces to create the tour operator Der Prey in 2016. Since then, this agency has conducted about 11 camps in various places in Cambodia.
According to Hok Sovanvotey, an official with Der Prey, the programme is designed for those who are passionate about forest adventures. People often think that visiting the forest is harmful or difficult, yet this programme aims to create a more positive way of thinking about the environment.
“Der Prey is a tour team that provides customers unique experiences of staying in natural places. We operate camps in the mountains or around the waterfall areas with the aim of allowing customers to enjoy views of their natural surroundings,” Ms Sovanvotey said.
Ms Sovanvotey added that Der Prey brings people to forest and fishery communities and engages in eco-tourism. It also provides environmental and biodiversity lectures, as well as meditation programmes. She added that mediation in natural surroundings can heal people emotionally and personally, and improve their sense of well-being.
Mak Sovannaret, 22, who recently travelled to Mondulkiri province with Der Prey, said she had enjoyed many new experiences with Der Prey. She had to walk about 17 km from Boutang to Orang, and she enjoyed the landscape there, she said.
“I did not know that Cambodia had such amazing places before. But when I went with them, I had an adventure. I stayed in a tribal community, learned to preserve natural resources, and experienced many things by walking long distances,” said Ms Sovannaret.
Ms Sovannaret added that she was fascinated by the culture of ethnic minority groups including their beliefs, traditions, and marriage customs. She said that all the tribes people were really helpful and friendly. Besides that, she gained lots of knowledge on protecting resources from the programme of environmental lectures put on by Der Prey.
Sreang Boramey, 23, another participant in Der Prey, said he never imagined that Cambodia had such a wealth of natural wonders. He said he learned a lot about himself by joining this trip.
Mr Boramey continued, “It was tired walking through difficult terrain, but I found that I had hidden reserves of stamina. The weather was very changeable, but I managed to find the discipline to cope and enjoy it.”
He recalled that he also learned about unity and solidarity. Some people had never walked such a distance, yet the members of the group all helped themselves to reach their destination.
“I thought that I would face some challenges trekking through the forest, but the reality was harder than I expected. But it was a good experience and I learned a lot,” Mr Boramey added.
Mr Boramey said that besides enjoying nature, he also learned about the lives of ethnic minority tribes people – their food, culture, traditions, and sense of solidarity. He recommended people who want to explore and adventure into the forest take a trip with Der Prey.