Cambodia: Phnom Penh & The Elephant Valley Project




Anthony Bourdain once said of Cambodia, “So, how do I sum up Cambodia? That’s the wrong question. You don’t sum it up. You open your eyes, you let it happen, you breathe it in.” In light of Tony’s guidance on the matter, when we asked Jamie for a review of GlobeKick’s Cambodia he stayed well clear of some boring old summary, “Well, if something profound isn’t happening out there, at least it feels like it is.” Screen Shot 2018-04-30 at 3.40.13 PM

Phnom Penh feels like no other place on the planet. The name itself conjures up  dreamy  visions of the exotic. The shining spires of the Royal Palace, the fluttering saffron of the monks’ robes, and the whirl of life (and motorbikes!) moving in all directions on the banks of the storied Mekong – Cambodia’s capital awakens something within you. Our following trek into the jungles of Mondulkiri takes us further into a growing feeling of trust and connection with this romantic land.  And just then, our volunteer work with the Elephant Valley Project brings it all into focus: these big majestic creatures, like Cambodia itself, feel resilient, loved, and bigger than a summary. Bravo Tony.


Marketing Shopping:

Adventurous Eating:

Jungle Trekking:

And Helping Elephants:


1 Nights in Phnom Penh Rental House (shared rooms)

2 Night in Sen Monorom Rental House (shared rooms)

3 Nights in private bungalows at Elephant Valley Project


Day 1- Day 2 : Pearl of Asia to Sen Monorom

  • We’ll gather at our house in Phnom Penh on Day 1 to share travel stories and excitement, before heading out on a walking tour of the city. In addition to catch sights of The Royal Palace, Ounalom Pagoda, and the Mekong Riverfront. Our digs will serve as the perfect launching pad for touring the many central markets on this bustling city, including the notable and local Orussey Market, the Phsar Thmei, and Tuol Tompoung Market
  • We’ll enjoy a group dinner and clink a few Angkor beers, before unwinding in the heart of the city for a night’s rest ahead of tomorrow’s journey to Sen Monorom.
  • The journey into Sen Monorom on our Day 2 takes us to Cambodia’s Wild East … into a new topography, climate, and vegetation. We’re definitely not in Kansas anymore.
  •  Although the provincial capital of Mondulkiri, Sen Monorom is really an overgrown village. Set amid the hills that give this province its name, this entire area of Cambodia is peppered with Bunong villages and picturesque waterfalls, making it an ideal place to feel a different energy of this country.  Many of the Bunong people from nearby villages come to Sen Monorom to trade: the distinctive baskets they carry on their backs make them easy to distinguish from Cambodian lowlanders. We’re nearly a 2700ft above the Mekong delta now — the blow cool breezes through Sen Monorom, so bring warm clothing.

Day 3-5: In the Jungle

  • Day 3:
    • Meet at Hefalump Café in Sen Monorom @ 7:00 AM.
    • Depart for Project at 7:30 AM with EVP Team
    • Arrive at EVP Project Site at 8:00 AM and meet for short introduction with EVP Guides
    • 8:30 AM Hike into the forest to find the elephants and follow them through the jungle.
    • 11:45 AM Hike back to EVP Basecamp
    • 12:00 PM Full Buffet Style Lunch is served
    • Rest and Relax Time: nap, read a book, or enjoy the EVP lounge (aka, time to avoid the heat of the day).
    • 1:45 PM Meet again for afternoon tour
    • 2:00 PM Hike into the forest to find a second group of elephants.
    • Spend time with these elephants learning about their lives and the indigenous people.
    • 4:45 PM Hike back to jungle basecamp
    • 6:00 PM Dinner is served
    • Free time to relax and spend time with others in our lounge or in night time activities.
    • 9:00 PM Lights out as our generator is powered off.
  • Day 4:
    • Breakfast at 7:30 AM
    • Volunteer work in the morning (activities vary but are typically agricultural and ecological based work)
    • Lunch
    • Visit Elephants in the afternoon.
  • Day 5:
    • Breakfast at 7:30 AM
    • Volunteer work in the morning (activities vary but are typically agricultural and ecological based work)
    • Lunch
    • Visit Elephants in the afternoon.
    • Depart Project arriving back in Sen Monorom 5:30 PM

Day 6: That Certain Feeling

  • As we break bread together on the morning of our last day … there’s that certain feeling. It’s not a summary notion of accomplishments and it’s not some prideful checklist of  things accomplished; everything from climbing pagodas to washing elephant ears. Nope. This is a feeling more mysterious and magical. You’re in a place that feels every bit of its history, culture, natural and wild beauty. It invites you to use that part of your sense to know it; your feeling sense. Everywhere you look —chaotic marketplace to rolling brown Mekong to misty jungle hill –this place is enchanted and that’s the feeling. That’s it. Enchantment.


What's Included

Airport Transfers to accommodations in Phnom Penh on first

One night of lodging in Phnom Penh (shared room)

Two nights of lodging in Sen Monorom (shared room)

Breakfast each morning in Phnom Penh and Sen Monorom

Guided city tourism experience in Phnom Penh

Transport to/from Elephant Valley Project

4 day / 3 night stay with full “Elephant Experience”

What's Not Included

Lunches and Dinners in Phnom Penh

On-the-ground transport (aside from airport and EVP transfers on specified days)

Insurance of any kind

Alcoholic beverages and/or Soft Drinks

Visas, Associated Travel Fees

Items of a Personal Nature


December 9 – 15 2018  ; December 9 – 15 2019

Group Size

Maximum 26 GlobeKickers

Suggested Airport

Phnom Penh International Airport (PNH) in Phnom Penh, Cambodia


Daily high temperatures in December are around 87°F with daily lows between 68°F and 75°F. Precipitation is very rare in December. The chance that a given day will be muggy in Phnom Penh decreases throughout December, falling from 90% to 69% over the course of the month.

More About The EVP

We are committed to supporting programs and organizations that make our world a better place. For centuries, Cambodian elephants have faced many challenges – from war, to being overwork in the logging, construction, and tourism industries. Every year, there are thousands of elephants across Asia that are abused as a result of the global tourism industry. Elephants in captivity generally face horrific living arrangements. They are often wrapped in chains, isolated, and live with limited movement, limited diet, and limited veterinary care. The Elephant Valley Project is an elephant sanctuary. And we want to help their efforts by volunteering our time with them.

In indigenous Cambodian culture, the Bunong (indigenous people of the Mondulkiri area), highly value and regard elephants. For these people, elephants are an important connection to the spirits and have been utilized in many ways for centuries.

However, Asian elephants are highly endangered and can only be found in fragmented habitats. It is projected that if populations decline at this current rate, elephants could become extinct within three generations. EVP (with our help!) is committed to sustainable elephant conservation practices.

While many tourist organizations claim to be supporting the advancement of healthy elephant populations, it is estimated that 60-75% of wildlife tourist attractions have negative welfare impacts on animal livelihood.

The Elephant Valley Project is committed to working with elephant owners so that the last of the captive elephants can live out their lives in health and peace. Elephant Valley Project is dedicated to advocate for the care of this population to the best of their ability. Their environment is stress free and natural and a dignified habitat for these amazing elephants to exist.

***Please note that visiting the Elephant Valley Project requires a moderate to high level of physical fitness. There is a lot of hiking (5 – 7km per day) on difficult terrain in the jungle to see the elephants.***

Gear List


  • Passport
  • Major Credit Cards
  • Sunglasses
  • A couple of “nicer” shirts
  • Some athletic tops and bottoms
  • A thin, long-sleeved shirt
  • Jeans
  • Shorts
  • Underwear
  • Casual sneaker-like shoes
  • Hiking Boots
  • Sandals / flip-flops
  • Socks
  • A Brimmed Hat
  • Phnom Penh guide book
  • Sunscreen
  • Earplugs
  • Headphones
  • Phone and Camera
  • Toiletries
  • Ibuprofen
  • Prescription medicine (make a note of active ingredients in addition to brand in case of loss)
  • Motion sickness remedy
  • Pain relievers
  • Calamine lotion
  • Diarrhea remedy
  • Hydration tablets
  • Allergy medicine (& EpipPen if serious)
  • Standard first-aid-kit with bandages
  • Sleeping aid for travel

***specifically for The Elephant Valley Project***

  • As the base camp is located on the side of a mountain, cars cannot get down the hill. If there is any rain, we’ll have to walk the last mile to camp. Please be aware that you may have to carry your own luggage on this hike. If only coming for a night or two, you may consider leaving your main luggage in storage in town, for example at the Greenhouse Restaurant or at the Greenhouse Guesthouse.
  • Please bring your passports. Cambodia law states that EVP has to submit passport records to the tourist police daily. You should also bring a copy of your passport and your visa.
  • You need a torch (electricity is only from 6pm – 9pm) and a warm sweatshirt (EVP is in a micro climate quite different (ie, cooler) than Phnom Penh)
  • Please bring a refillable water bottle
  • And don’t forget to bring some good books!


  • Compass
  • GoPro (great for filming elephants!)
  • Maps
  • Small Multitool
  • Laptop
  • E Reader

Travel Documents

  • Airline Tickets (Confirmation and Itinerary)
  • Visa
  • Photo Identification
  • Color Copy of Passport Identification Page

The GlobeKicker Gauges

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1 = lowest and 10 = highest

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