So, we heard that word on the Cambodian Grapevine was that there was a Secret Waterfall to be found in Kampot. Apparently, it was so beautiful, but there were no directions or signs to tell you where to go or how to get there. Obviously.. we had to check this out for ourselves!
We’d seen on YouTube, a couple of people had ventured there themselves and I would be lying if I said we didn’t message them to ask them how they got there. Fortunately for the sake of our own adventure, none of them replied. There were no specific directions on google, so we opted for asking a few of the locals. We were told different sounding locations by three different people, however one of them gave information that sounded like it was similar to what we’d heard from a YouTube video. He had said that it was around 1km before Arcadia, whilst the YouTube video told us that if we want to find it, we should ask the lovely chaps at High Tide Hostel. We didn’t ask them as we wanted to solve the mystery ourselves, but we did put 2 and 2 together and realise that High Tide is about 4km before Arcadia, so it must be somewhere in between the two.
Feeling as though we were about to find out whether it was professor plum in the kitchen with the spanner as his murder weapon (holla to all the Cluedo fans out there that understand this), we set out to find the Waterfall!
We drove down the long road on the way to Arcadia, carefully watching the KM meter on google maps. A few Km past High Tide and not to far from Arcadia we crossed a bridge and noticed a river to our left and both thought the same thing, the top of that river can only lead to one thing! The Waterfall! So we took a random left turn about 100m past the river and headed down the dirt path to start of our adventure. We passed lots of houses and banana plants, which was familiar as we had also seen in a couple of YouTube videos that the area of the Waterfall is largely populated by a banana plantation. Our odds of finding it had gone from 0% to 50% at this point!
We arrived at the side of the river where the dirt path crossed over to the other side and dumped our motorbike deep into a bush just off the side of the water (we also covered it with branches to camouflage it, which we found utterly hilarious see vlog).
We started our hike up the river bed, stone hopping and scrambling over the huge rocks, being careful not to end up with wet feet. Along the way, we saw a few local families having picnics at the sides and little children playing in the deeper bits of water, putting on a show for us by jumping off the rocks. We hiked what seemed about half a mile further, before coming to the most beautiful pool in middle of the river! It filled the width of the entire route we had just been walking on and had a mini waterfall splashing off the rocks at the back (the jungle either side is basically impenetrable and extremely steep so theres no way round). Yup, you guessed it, the only way to go further would be to go through the lake and up the Waterfall! What a shame!
We stripped off down to our swimwear, packed all our stuff into a waterproof bag (this is absolutely essential if you have anything worth more than $0.50) and swam across with it to the back of the pool. Our towel wouldn’t fit in the bag so i actually had to hold this above my head as I swam with one arm! (harder than it sounds!) We guessed (prayed) that the water was more than deep enough in the middle so we had took 20 minutes to have fun jumping off the towering rocks surrounding the waterfall. After the pool and still in one piece, we re-dressed and made our way back onto the rocks up the waterfall.
At our next hurdle, we came to a group of huge rocks, which had steep sides and water pouring down them, making it too slippy to climb up. We tried every other way round the rock, but couldn’t find any other way to get up. We were stuck! We tried to go up the side of the mountain to the right of us, to see if there was some way around the big rock, only to be eventually surrounded by thorn bushes and red ants that bit us as we tried to get through them! We literally ran back to the rocks, picked off the remainder of the red ants and stood baffled as to what on earth we were going to do next.
Out of nowhere, like some sort of Cambodian Jesus appearing in a crisis, a local man appeared on top of the rock! He pointed behind us to the left hand side, which looked to us like just a load of shrubbery until we looked carefully at a little opening between two bushes. We shouted thanks to him and went towards the bushes. He waited for us on top of the rocks and signalled for us to follow him. He lead us across the rocks back onto the right side of the river to a very, very steep hill at the side of the waterfall. He climbed it with ease, Jac and I following behind him, holding on for dear life to the banana trees that were planted up the side of the mountain. We literally couldn’t believe how steep it was, it was like climbing a ladder with a sheer drop down to the waterfall if you fell! Eventually, we came to a pathway, in which was used by local people that lived on the mountain who worked on the fruit plantations. We thanked him for being a lifesaver and continued up the path. To add a little extra at this point, Cambodian Jesus also had a 2ft machete on his side so Jac explained to me that he was preparing to throw me at ‘Jesus’ and save himself.
At the top we got a dirt path and the local man pointed us in the right direction and off we went. I’m not even exaggerating when I say the path was SO steep! We trudged up the path for about 40 minutes before we started to wonder how far we actually had to go. It was around 3 o’clock at this point, therefore we knew we only had about 3 hours left of daylight to make it to the waterfall. We stopped a local man on his motorbike, who luckily for us spoke good English! We asked him “how far to the waterfall?” He looked shocked that we were walking there and said “Have you walked all the way here? Wow, it’s ermmm, about ermmm, 500m that way”. We were absolutely buzzing with him telling us this as that wasn’t very far at all! We both felt as if we were roasting to death in the 40degree heat up the mountain and to top it off, we were in risk of getting sun stroke with about 250ml of water left between us and our skin that was getting more and more burnt as we walked.
The man we had asked clearly didn’t quite understand what 500m was because we walked for at least another hour and a half! We made our way through the banana plantations that we saw in the YouTube videos. Twice on the way we came to a fork in the path, typically both times we chose the wrong way and had to redirected by locals further up the path. One of those times, we followed the steepest path we had took so far for about 25 minutes before being redirected (Typical!) It was about half 4 when we finally got back to a path that lead back down towards the river. (Top tip - from this stage, every time you get to a fork you need to take the right hand turn in order to always keep to the right of the river.)
We followed the path and came to a huge rock, with a little bit of water trickling off the top. Jac literally turned back to me and said “surely this can’t be it”. We saw a local man on the side of the rocks and made some attempted hand gestures and noises to indicate a water fall. He pointed up and over the top of the rock to a point we couldn’t yet see, we scrambled over the rocks, sweat dripping from our faces, both a little agitated because we thought we were going to continue hiking even further up the river when... blam! We found the waterfall!
Big smiles shot across our faces, ear to ear as we saw the Waterfall. My goodness, it was so so beautiful. It had a huge pool of water in front of it, and an amazing waterfall splashing off of differing levels of rocks. Rocks that definitely looked like they were made to be climbed on! We swam over to the rocks and sat on the level right underneath the waterfall, before climbing up to jump off the highest level! It was absolutely amazing! (And all this was in the dry season - we can’t even imagine what it would be like in wet season!)
At around half 5, we headed back along the path until we came to the river once more. On the way, we crossed a couple of locals, one of them giving us a fresh papaya to share. We hadn’t eaten since 9am that morning, so we felt like we’d won the lottery with this! Jac ate his half and when it came to him passing it to me, I screamed and knocked it out of his hand by accident as we saw the biggest spider ever on a web next to us!!! The picture below doesn’t do it justice, but the spider was literally bigger than our hands and looked so scary! But unfortunately, I didn’t get to eat my half of the papaya, boohoo!
We scrambled across the rocks, not even bothering to be careful this time as we both waded through the water in our trainers (which typically, absolutely stink now thanks to this haha!) and somehow, found the motorbike still covered with our ingenious camouflage. We drove back to the road, just as the sun was beginning to set, both saying how we had had the most amazing day so far in all of our travels!
We hugely recommend that you go and find the waterfall too! We hope you can use all the points in this blog post to get you there, but it won’t be easy as there is a lot more to the route that we couldn’t really explain in this blog post. Just have fun, get lost, pack some lunch and remember to keep hydrated!
Best day EVER!
Adventure rating - 8/10 (What an amazing day!!!!)
Fitness Level - 6/10 (it was pretty knackering taking our route but it added to the fun)
Fear rating - 3/10 (not overly scary but there is definitely risks so be careful)
Cost per two people - Breakfast $2, Motorbike $4, fuel $1 - we forgot lunch :(