Floating in a river of tranquillity

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Leave your imagination at the door, because the Cardamoms will go beyond even your wildest expectations. As you stroll through the virgin forest, the stillness is broken only by the roar of the Tatai river as water cascades and crashes into a gorge 12ft below.

Once the torrent has been tamed in the dry season, it is possible to wade out into the gently rolling stream and dive into the depths below. The water is as crystal pure as nature intended.

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The lush forested slopes of the Cardamoms are a perfect hiding place for the rare Javan rhinoceros, Indochinese tiger and Asian elephant. A sighting of one of these threatened species is worth 1,000 safaris anywhere else in the natural world. Gibbons sometimes serenade at sunrise and barking deer yelp at the edge of the jungle. Siamese crocodiles, once thought extinct, have also been seen in the rivers that criss-cross this magical haven.

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According to the Wildlife Alliance, World Wildlife Fund and other concerned charities, this remarkable rainforest ecoregion is considered to harbour more than 100 mammal species including numerous endangered animals such as the clouded leopard, pileated gibbon and Malaysian sun bear.

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The resident birdlife is estimated at a staggering 553-plus species, although in all probability many will be added after more comprehensive surveys. A veritable twitchers' paradise, waders from storks to cranes inhabit its wetlands, song birds love its wooded slopes and the brahminy kite hovers overhead on the lookout for a meal. Among the rarest of sightings are the silver oriole and the great hornbill, which are thought to be on the brink of extinction.

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