Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Visiting the river dolphins

After our excursion to the jungle we weren’t too keen to visit another national park and opted instead to check out the river dolphins. 
In Cambodia efforts to save this endangered species seem to have had effect as there are still some alive. So our next stop was Kratie on the Mekong river, 250km from Banlung. Actually it was Kampi, some 15km up river. From here tour boats go out and you have the chance to see some of the remaining ones. 
So we bought a ticket and got told we have one hour on the boat. Expecting a long ride out and back we were pleasantly surprised to see a pod of dolphins just minutes after leaving the shore. Our captain turned off the engine and used the oar to further approach them. 

You can see where we started off

The pod circling us

Diving again 


Dived under the boat 

Great successes 
They would swim around and under the boat but still it was hard to catch them on our puny little mobile phones. Nevertheless it was a great experience and we were back on dry land after a mere 20 minutes.

The dolphins are called Irrawaddy dolphins, named after the delta in the Bay of Bengal where the are most common. They are snub nosed and resemble the Beluga whale. Hopefully the conservation efforts (we saw billboards showing a dead dolphin and a man in jail) bear fruits and who knows, they may one day return to Laos…

For the night we stayed in Kratie before continuing on to Phnom Pen the next day!