Written by Max (aged 9)
For my birthday we went on the Betelnut Tour. The tour took us to a sanctuary. When we arrived there were lots of sambar deer, who were really tame, they let us pat them.
Our guide yelled, ‘Holy Shit’ so we all turned to look at her and she pointed to a beautiful bird, called the black necked stork and our guide said she has never seen one before and that we were really lucky to see it. We decided to continue on and were followed by sambar deer as we went and then a little munt jac deer, the second smallest in the world followed too.
We had what we call the ‘killer bird incident’ next. A bird started squarking and chasing us, so we all did the logical thing and ran, except Tristan who stood frozen still. The bird was pecking at him and flapping its wings so Dad got to be the hero and with a stick started sword fighting it so Tristan could escape.
We continued on to look at the primates and I held hands with a blind gibbon, who didn’t want to let my hand go.
We also got to feed otters some smelly fish.
We stopped for lunch and lay in the hammocks in the picnic area and then we had cake.
After lunch we visited the sun bears, who came close to the fence.
Our final stop was to visit the elephant enclosure. There was a teenage elephant who had lost part of his leg and had been given a prosthetic and was learning to walk with it. He is the first elephant to get one.
Information on Betelnut Tour
The Betelnut Tour takes you to the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center, home to 1200 endangered and rescued animals. Native animals at the center include gibbons, sun-bears, tigers, elephants, deer and more. There are opportunities to pat deer, feed the otters some fish, pat the gibbons and get chased by large birds, as we discovered.
Betelnut Tours have been coming to the Center for 14 years and run a well organised tour picking up from the Lazy Gecko Cafe. The tour provides a delicious lunch and even organised a cake for Max’s birthday.
Would I recommend the trip? Regardless of calling it a rescue center, it is still basically a zoo and many of the animals remain in enclosures. We were looking for something kid friendly to do for Max’s birthday and it suited the need. As a couple would I visit the center? Probably not. As a family looking for a break from Khmer Rouge attractions? Possibly. The kids enjoyed the day and that had been our aim.
Betelnut Tour Information
- Adults $40 USD
- Children under 12: $35 USD
- Pickup is at 9.45 and return at between 5 – 5.30 pm
- Tours are available on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays
- Pickup is from the Lazy Gecko Cafe in Phnom Penh