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Cambodia / Bensley Collection – Shinta Mani Wild

There’s only one thing that can eclipse the unique architectural mastery of this Bill Bensley-designed camp, and that’s the ensemble of wildlife that surrounds it.

A zip line entrance sets the tone for what time here is like. It’s very much go, go, go – the type of place to push comfort zone boundaries – and that’s irrefutably welcomed. Started by Bensley and Cambodian hotelier Sokoun Chanpreda, Bensley Collection – Shinta Mani Wild is proof that conservation and luxury hospitality can work in harmony. It’s an opportunity to go beyond the usual fauna-favouring activities, centring experiences around their primary goal of saving the forest. It’s well worth taking the trouble to explore; wildlife treks obviously feature, but it’s the likes of getting involved in local communities and anti-poaching units, accompanying rangers to check camera traps, and boarding the expedition boats (also designed by Bill) to explore the waterways that leave daring duos with something far more precious to take home.

True to Bensley’s signature and ever-so-distinctive style, the ostentatious tents (15 in total) are all individually draped in delicious mahogany with a touch of vibrant colour and vintage-traveller accents. Apparently, the design was greatly influenced by Jackie Kennedy’s visit in the 60s. Split into three categories – Wild Tents, Waterfall Tents and a Two Bedroom Tent perfect for families – all of the accommodations are stilted to allow free movement of the wildlife below. And don’t worry, no trees were harmed in the making of them. Room tip: while hiking is very much encouraged, tents closer to the centre of camp can be requested to preserve precious energy.

Travel notes:

  • 15 uniquely designed luxury tents
  • A connection with the Wildlife Alliance funds daily conservation patrols and the hotel offers stable jobs to local people
  • If a zip line entry isn’t your thing don’t worry, the hotel is also accessible by car and helicopter
  • This is a high yield low impact camp, so all food is locally sourced and part of the hotel’s revenue goes towards a private nature sanctuary
  • Guests are assigned an adventure butler to sort out activities from bird watching and foraging to cooking classes and mountain biking
  • Thankfully for such a remote location, everything (except the helicopter there) is included: from meals and drinks to experiences and wellness therapies in the canopy treatment rooms

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When to visit Cambodia

Cambodia can be visited year round, although the ideal months to travel are from December to January when humidity levels are low, there is little rainfall and a cooling breeze is usually present. Temperatures rise from February to April before the monsoon in May brings rain and high humidity. The wet season lasts until October.

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