What’s special about Lak Lake Tented Camp is that it protects the area’s natural beauty and supports local M’nong culture…
What’s special about Lak Lake Tented Camp is that it protects the area’s natural beauty and supports local M’nong culture, putting 25 percent of its profits back into the community. The lake-side bungalows and tents blend into the stunning central highland scenery and run on solar power, using purified well water. The food is delicious too and all farm-to-fork, from garden vegetables to fish and shrimp from the lake.
Most of the camp’s staff come from surrounding M’nong villages, like my guide Son, who took us on a cycling tour. First, we stopped at a village on the shores of Lak Lake, where we visited a traditional wooden longhouse where M’nong people have lived in for generations. We got to meet H Jok Bkrong, the matriarch of the family who farms cacao and avocados, as well as a lady from the village who still makes pottery from the dark river clay.
As we biked through the countryside, Son stopped and climbed a tree in his bare feet to pick me a juicy guava. All the farmers in conical hats were coming back from the fields, herding water buffaloes and cows – at one point we had to scramble up the bank to get out of their way – but everyone was giving us big smiles as they went about their daily routine. It really felt like you were thrown into local life.
The next morning, we took a 2-kilometre trek to Bim Bip waterfall, which was completely free from tourists, we were just surrounded by lush forest and huge, bird-sized butterflies. As we swam in the clear, cool water, Son made a bonfire and lovingly prepared our lunch, barbequing slices of pork and cooking rice in bamboo shoots.
The camp is so peaceful, you get woken to the sound of fishermen slapping the water with their oars and you can sit on the veranda with a beer as the sun sets over the lake, then watch the stars come out to the sound of birds and geckos. One evening, we enjoyed a bonfire and watched some M’nong dancing, which is the traditional way of praying for good crop weather.