I’m a dude. I’m a man; the son of a man; a real hombre. So while what I tell you next may slightly diminish my masculinity according to societal norms, please suspend your judgment.
My big confession is that… I like butterflies.
Seriously! Who doesn’t when it comes down to it. Even the toughest thug probably melts when a purple and yellow spotted monarch floats down and lands on their arm. And so, considering my affinity for Rhopalocera (their scientific name), the Kep Butterfly Farm in Cambodia is profoundly beautiful.
Cambodia ain’t so bad, itself, as one of the most scenic, cultural, and fascinating countries on earth. It’s also a traveler or photographer’s dream, from the ancient temple complex of Angkor Wat to the buzzing cultural city of Phnom Penh and all the way down to the sinful beachside community of Sihanoukville.
The list of attractions in that country includes Kampot, a throwback picturesque river town, and, to a lesser degree, Kep, Kep is a tiny seaside community so small that you might miss it. I’ve covered it before, but one goes to Kep just to get away, slow down, and relax, as there’s nothing much to do but walk around in nature, lay in a hammock and eating fresh seafood (Kep crab is famous) while drinking Angkor beer. But while I’m there, my itchy feet and F.O.M.O require that I start Googling what else there is to do in the area, and that’s how I first heard about the Kep Butterfly Farm.
To get there, you’ll have to traverse long spans of hot, dusty, and bumpy country roads, but it shouldn’t take you more than about 45 minutes to reach the farm if memory serves. It’s easy to rent a motorbike when you’re in Kep and head out on your own, although you’ll probably get lost and asking for directions from the simple Khmer-speaking villagers might result in you ridiculously trying to reenact flying like a butterfly. I’m lazy (or efficient), so I just rented a tuk-tuk and paid a driver to take me there, which is enjoyable because I can get to know another great local and see a few more spots along the way.
The Kep Butterfly Farm is located in a bigger nature preserve, the Jasmine-Valley Eco Resort. It’s a beautiful natural setting so you can take some time to meander around the grounds, climb four stories up in their unique lodge/lookout, and stroll down to the river bank.
When it’s time to go into the actual butterfly farm, you’ll notice that it’s not big at all. In fact, it consists of a couple of small structures where you pay for a ticket (only about $1 -$2) and get some information on the lives, species, reproductive practices, etc. of butterflies. You the enter a series of hanging mesh doors into a huge mesh tent containing gardens, flowers, fountains, and, yes, thousands of butterflies.
You can spend as much time as you like walking along the path throughout the tent, stopping to observe the different colors, shapes, and species of butterflies. The more you slow down yourself, the more details you’ll notice about the beautiful creatures. Stand still long enough, and they’ll even land on your arms, your hands, or even on top of your head. Bring a good camera because due to their movement and diminutive size, it’s really hard to get great photos. But with a good camera, the close-up photos are stunning!
It’s also plenty hot inside the tent since it’s open to the sun, so purchase a bottle of water or snack at their on-site café before you leave, and enjoy a couple of hours at the Kep Butterfly Farm!
Ok, and please don’t take my man-card just yet!