Only few hundred metres behind Angelina Jolie’s house, where the Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation (MJP) conducts its mission to preserve Cambodia’s environment and support rural communities, Samlot Chas waterfall casts its natural beauty to attract tourists to swim in its pool surrounded by lush green forest.
Samlot Chas waterfall – occasionally referred to as Angelina Jolie’s waterfall – is located in protected forest in Battambang province’s Samlot commune.
Two cascades – the higher one flowing from an overhanging rock about 7m high and a second 2m high – connect to the Sangker river.
Hidden under lush green forest canopy, the waterfall has become a tourist destination in part thanks to MJP – founded in 2003 by the Hollywood star aiming to protect the forest – located next to the waterfall.
“The first attraction is of course the natural beauty of the waterfall, enclosed by tall trees, ferns, creeper roots and dead trees lying down in the pool where people can swim and dive. But tourists also like to visit the foundation and see Jolie’s house inside,” said guide Kea Sovann, leading a group of five expats.
Climbing the bamboo stairs to the overhanging rock, Sovann instructs his visitors on how to safely jump into the pool below.
“They take free time from work to relax here by swimming, jumping and catching butterflies. We also look into the Jolie mansion and see a few houses inside when we drive past,” he said.
Visitor Mak Sreyneang, 14, told The Post: “Samlot Chas Waterfall is our favourite place. The water is clear and cold. If we come early the water is very clear, but now we‘ve played around in it it is a darker colour. This is the second time for me, but the first time I just came to take a look and bought some local fruits.
“We love it because the water’s depth is not too deep or too shallow so we can swim and jump. Moreover, it has trees everywhere providing shade from the sunlight. After swimming and bathing, we have a picnic packed from home and take a group photo.”
Wearing a black T-shirt and jeans, Sim Muoyseav, 14, said it was her first experience jumping into the natural pool from seven metres, a thrill seeking activity usually reserved for Cambodian men.
“I had never jumped from this height into a pool before, but this time I wanted to try this exciting experience. I did not think I could do it but I wanted to try. I felt like I was dreaming that I could fly. I was proud of myself for doing what most Cambodian women consider a man’s game,” said the grade-eight student from Pailin province.
The security guard named Thoeun in the MJP compound, where travellers stop to buy seasonal local fruits, said during the holidays and weekends there are a huge number of people at the waterfall.
“They are students, people living in Samlot, Battambang town, Pailin and foreigners. During the holidays, there are many people,” the 56-year-old said.
On the upper stream of the waterfall, there is a huge and very deep hole for swimmers to attempt to reach the bottom. Sovann said he tried to reach the bottom but it was too deep.
To reach the waterfalls, drive from Battambang town on National Road 57 heading to Pailin town. After 50km turn left to Samlot district town, and after another 15km turn right onto a dust road for a further 20km. There you will see a small sign on a gate saying Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation. Behind the compound is Samlot Chas waterfall.