Welcome to the breathtaking world of Shinta Mani Wild, an extraordinary riverside glamping destination and adventurous experience inspired by the soul and beauty of nature. World-famed hotel designer, landscape architect, architect, and interior designer Bill Bensley was moved by the endless ancient Cambodian wilderness, the jungle’s raw magic, and the Tmor Rung River. Your wild adventure begins the moment you head off-road in a vintage jeep or arrive on a 400-metre zip line. Whatever time of year you choose to honeymoon at Shinta Mani Wild, the thick forests are always enchanted.
The extraordinary camp strives to preserve its 865-acre private nature sanctuary and ward off poaching, mining and logging activities. 15-tents are elegantly eccentric with dark wood, wild animal print furniture, eclectic art, and collectables from the local villages and around the country. Bensley carefully chose the names of the luxury tents as a tribute to the environment and his affection for the jungle. Each tent languidly nestles within 40 acres of wilderness, giving you the ultimate in honeymoon privacy; the tents are constructed on stilts to allow nature to roam unhindered. The sanctuary is at peace in the expansive five million-acre Cardamom Forest.
Throughout your stay, you’ll be looked after by your Bensley Adventure Butler, who will attend to your every need and curate unforgettable honeymoon adventures to suit your tastes. Choose from foraging cooking classes, waterfall picnics, seasonal boating expeditions, bird and butterfly watching, or enjoy ziplining through the overhead canopies or join an anti-poaching patrol.
Five distinctive seasons envelop Shinta Mani Wild; butlers carefully create delightful activities allowing you to explore the mystical qualities of each. Cool evenings allow for hot open-air baths, and massages on the sun-warmed northern stone riverbed. The beginning of spring sees almost empty riverbeds, ideal for mountain biking and hiking. Towards the end of the spring, you’ll experience the cooling rains that refresh the valleys filling the rivers with new waters that bring the verdant jungle back to life. Butterflies flit happily through the mesmerising rays that sparkle through the forest’s canopy. Explore the Srey Ambel Estuary on one of the resort’s three expedition boats or kayaks.
June and July bring raging drama to the jungle. Mist, rain, and monsoon storms dance and crash through the undergrowth. 17 streams create a torrential outpouring into the main river resulting in impressive waterfalls. The trees begin to bear fruit, and birds return to their breeding ground; it’s a perfect time for twitchers and wild-nature lovers. Throughout the rainy season, lucky visitors have witnessed a herd of wild elephants.
Every afternoon, the gardener or chef combs the jungle, earth and streams for edible treats for dinner such as wild herbs, bamboo shoots, jungly potatoes, river prawns and waterlilies. Foraging is a fun pastime at this time of year; explore the verdant landscapes with the resident chef and hunt for the slightly tart pink mushroom that he’ll add to an egg white omelette with mozzarella and red capsicum.
Autumnal months bring alive the ‘Raging Sisters’, a collection of three major waterfalls in the valley. The waterfalls are shrouded in mist. You’ll hear the slightly haunting call of the pileated gibbons in the mornings as they compete for territories. As November moves into December, the Raging Sisters calm, allowing you to swim in the cool river waters. Along the sandy shores of the Srey Ambel Estuary, take picnics, enjoy sunbathing or learn to flyfish Tenkara style with Tulga, the Mongolian fisher guide. Rub shoulders with their very own lepidopterologist, camp manager, Mac. He will give you an insight into some of the world’s most spectacular butterflies and oriental bugs.
Wellness offerings are nature-inspired and practised in your tent, aboard the expedition boat or in the jungle. The Khmer Tonics Spa has two spectacular treatment rooms cocooned in the rainforest’s peaceful canopy. You’ll find nature’s influence in each treatment. Choose a relaxing foot massage with home-prepared products that harness medicinal properties from locally sourced plants, herbs and spices. Other treatments include the traditional art of Khmer healing, a detoxifying facial, a massage using ancient acupuncture techniques and passive stretching.
Dining at Shinta Mani Wild is spontaneous, fun and ever-changing. Cambodian executive chef Tim Pheak has daily changing menus using freshly foraged or locally sourced ingredients he collects each day. He combines his extensive love of nature and his luxury-culinary skills to prepare delicious dishes for his guests. One day, you might try a fiery curry from somewhere across Asia, a five-course tasting menu, or their signature foraged dinner. Dining possibilities are endless. Choose from waterfall picnics to dinner on the deck outside your tent, at Headquarters, the resort’s main dining room or on one of the pretty lawns.
As you would expect, the bar has impressive views and a deliciously tempting drinks list. Relax into vintage French chairs with cocktails made with ingredients from the jungle floor. The in-house mixologist makes the Wild’s apothecary-style bitters; he’ll teach you a thing or two about cocktail-making if you so wish. Above the bar is a vintage carousel horse and a splendid bell to announce anything you fancy! If you’ve done enough walking during the day, hop aboard the zipline. As you’d expect, they proudly have a host of mischief up their well-pressed sleeves.
For bookings, honeymoon dreamings and plenty more information, visit https://wild.bensleycollection.com/.
Katie Hollamby is a well-travelled public relations specialist turned writer for various international publications, tourism boards and ethical brands. Originally from the UK, she’s worked around the world, lived in and explored North America, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Maldives and now Thailand. She’s passionate about the welfare of animals and sustainability. For more adventures, you can follow her on Instagram @thekatybooks.