Bensley Collection – Shinta Mani Wild
Located in the Cardamom Mountains region of Cambodia, around four hours’ drive from Phnom Penh, the recently opened Shinta Mani Wild is one of the most exciting tented camps in the country; arguably in the whole of Indochina.
Shinta Mani Wild raises the bar when it comes to combining luxury with pure wilderness, and we guarantee that those with a sense of adventure will not be disappointed. The incredible tented camp is the creation of one of our favourite interior designers, the imaginative Bill Bensley, who bought the vast piece of land with the aim of saving it from illegal poaching and logging. In partnership with Wildlife Alliance, this vision has successfully come to life and the eco-lodge is helping to regenerate flora and fauna in an area that has suffered badly since the Khmer Rouge days of the 70s.
What the team have created really is something else - on arrival at the camp gates, a vintage Jeep will take you up to an impressive tower, from which you have the option of zip-lining over the jungle directly into the camp, where you’ll be met with a deliciously cooling cocktail to begin your stay at Shinta Mani Wild in style.
15 very private tents are scattered along an atmospheric river and have stunning vistas over lush tropical vegetation to the distant hills beyond. To call them tents is, of course, stretching the definition of the word; they are truthfully more like canvas palaces, with every luxury you could need in the middle of the jungle, including your very own butler. Each Bensley-designed tent has its own individual theme, and you’ll find many quirky items and Avant-garde artworks throughout; as well as a library of vintage books should you wish to kick back with an interesting read on the history of a particularly obscure hobby from the 1920s.
Every tent comes with spacious outdoor decking, complete with a beautiful jungle-facing bathtub, a dining and lounge area, and a full bar complete with ingredients to make up some inventive cocktails to sip whilst relaying epic stories of jungle trekking and waterfall swimming.
During your stay you are encouraged to ride on the back of motorbikes with the Wildlife Alliance officers, and trek off into the jungle on active patrols. This is one of the many exhilarating excursions available to you during your time here, which allow you to fully immerse yourself in the local environment. Other options include foraging cooking classes; monitoring local wildlife with a camera-trapping naturalist expert from the Royal University of Phnom Penh, hiking in the rainforest, and taking picnics under lush waterfalls. And if all this sounds a bit too strenuous, there is also the option of cruising through the tropical forest on a small custom-designed boat, with all the drinks and cocktails you could wish for.
Take a seat at the camp’s open-air bar, known as the Landing Zone Bar, and enjoy beautifully crafted cocktails whilst listening to vintage 1960s Cambodian surf-rock and looking out on to the property’s largest waterfall, with a picturesque natural swimming area. It truly appears to have been created for a film-set. Here, you’ll also find Shinta Mani Wild’s Headquarters Restaurant, which serves largely regional cuisine with many ingredients plucked straight from the gardens or foraged from the jungle nearby. Breakfasts are suitably creative, and very much go along with the original, innovative nature of the camp. If you’re in need of some rejuvenation, the Khmer Tonics Spa is situated next to giant rocks and the river that runs through the camp, providing a serene natural setting for relaxing treatments.
If all of this isn’t enough to tempt you, a stay here means that you’ll also be contributing to some very worthy projects. As well as partnering with Wildlife Alliance, The Shinta Mani Foundation runs conservation and community outreach programmes, and benefits local communities through its hospitality training school in Siem Reap. Additionally, the foundation provides healthcare and small business loans to those in need.
I dislike feeling at home when I am abroad.
George Bernard Shaw
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- Jaime Benitez, South India
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