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Located amidst the vibrant city of Siem Reap, Cambodia, the APOPO Visitor Center is an innovative centre. This centre isn’t your typical tourist attraction, but a place where courageous African pouched rats, HeroRATs, transform the landscape of landmine clearance. It is not limited to a mere visit as a tourist, but it goes beyond the mere sightseeing and educates visitors of all ages about the devastating impact of landmines, the ingenious solution offered by APOPO’s HeroRATs, and the ongoing efforts to create safer communities. The centre creates a sense of wonder as you witness the remarkable partnership between humans and these intelligent creatures, a robust combination to elevate the power of innovation.

About The APOPO Visitor Center

The exterior view of the APOPO Visitor Center.

Image Credit: APOPO Visitor Center for Facebook

If you are visiting Cambodia, chances are you have already researched its history and become aware of its devastating history, especially ones involving landmines that have claimed the lives of many. The APOPO Visitor Center was established to overcome and address the landmine crisis in the countries using the help of HeroRATs, which helped in demining efforts. The centre educates visitors of all ages through interactive exhibits, informative displays, and live demonstrations.
However, the highlight of your visit would be encountering these small yet powerful creatures, which stand apart due to their amazing sniffing skills. Besides being an exhibit, the centre serves as a fundraising platform where they collect funds and donations to support their vision of creating a landmine-free country soon.

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History Of APOPO Visitor Center

MD 82 B landmines on display at APOPO Visitor's Center, Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Image Credit: Mx. Granger for Wikimedia Commons

  • Seeing the dreadful complications related to landmines in Cambodia, a strict step or breakthrough had to be introduced to bring about salient transformations. That’s exactly the vision behind the establishment of APOPO.
  • The organisation was established in 1998 by Bart Weghorst, a Belgian national. With his knowledge and expertise, Bart devised the idea to use pouched rats’ exceptional sense of smell for landmine detection.
  • These rats, native to sub-Saharan Africa, are unlike any other variant. They possess several key advantages, like their small size, which allows them to navigate treacherous terrain safely; their keen sense of smell, which is suitable for detecting explosives; and their trainability, which makes them effective demining partners.
  • Initially, APOPO was established in Mozambique with a similar vision to eradicate the impacts of landmines in the country. Seeing its success, another branch opened in Cambodia with the same vision in 2006.
  • According to statistics, Cambodia has one of the highest landmine densities globally. Following its establishment in Cambodia, APOPO undertook the first project of eliminating landmines around Angkor Wat.
  • The establishment of the APOPO Visitor Center in Siem Reap coincided with the organisation’s growing presence in Cambodia. The centre served a dual purpose: educating the public about landmines and their impact while generating crucial support for APOPO’s demining activities.

Best Time To Visit

A display on the famous site in Cambodia.

Image Credit: APOPO Visitor Center for Facebook

If you are considering visiting the APOPO Visitor Center in Cambodia, the months from November to April are possibly the best time. You will experience pleasant weather throughout with average temperatures ranging from 24°C (75°F) to 32°C (90°F).
However, remember that this is also peak season for tourists planning to explore Siem Reap and the adjoining areas.

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APOPO Visitor Center Entrance Fee And Timing

A woman doing a closer examination.

Image Credit: Calmar Corps for Facebook

The APOPO Visitor Center entrance fee for adults is $5 per person. There is no entry fee for Cambodian nationals and children under 6. Additionally, if you wish to learn more about the HeroRATs and the efforts that are going into creating a landmine-free nation, it’s ideal to opt for the group tour, which costs $10 per person. You can avail the tickets at the centre’s entrance.
Coming to the timing of the centre, it is open from 08:30 AM to 05:00 PM. You can visit anytime during this time frame. However, visiting during the early morning hours experiences less of a tourist rush, giving you more time to learn more about the insights of the demining efforts.

Things To Do

A visit to the APOPO Visitor Center offers a plethora of engaging activities, but most importantly, this visitor centre is targeted towards educating people about the current crisis in Cambodia concerning landmines and their impacts.
Let us have a look at the APOPO Visitor Center in Cambodia:

1. Interactive Exhibits

A landmine-sniffing rat at APOPO

Image Credit: Mx. Granger for Wikimedia Commons

The visitor centre’s highlight is educating people about landmines, so your first stop needs to be the interactive exhibits. You can delve into the landmines’ history and their devastating impact on the natives. You can also learn about the different kinds of landmines, their activation mechanisms, and the long-term impacts they leave in contaminating the soil and environment.

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2. HeroRAT Showcases

The interior view of the site in Combodia.

Image Credit: Calmar Corps for Facebook

APOPO’s vision is all due to the existence of HeroRATs, so the next thing to indulge in is witnessing these showcases closely. With live demonstrations inside the centre, you can witness how these HeroRATs work in real-time to detect and demine active landmines in Cambodia. Getting to notice their work up close is fascinating because you can witness how sharp their senses are and how they utilise them to become landmine detection experts.

3. Educational Videos

A woman doing a closer examination in the centre.

Image Credit: Calmar Corps for Facebook

APOPO Visitor Center aims to educate people about the crisis that prevails in Cambodia and several other developing countries. Hence, comprehensive educational videos are part of the group tour, where you learn about the organisation’s ongoing efforts to implement effective demining efforts across multiple countries.

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4. Meet The HeroRATs

The image of a rat in the APOPO Visitor Center.

Image Credit: APOPO Visitor Center for Facebook

Simply witnessing the heroic work of the HeroRATs might be enough, but what if you could see and meet them? Yes, this is possible in the centre as well. There are exhibits where you can see and interact with the HeroRATs in their enclosures with the handlers. You can see them in action and get an up-close understanding of their activities from their handlers.

Places to Visit Near APOPO Visitor Center

APOPO Visitor Center is in Siem Reap, one of the most popular tourist destinations. So, once you finish exploring the centre, add a few of the following spots to your itinerary as well:

1. Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat temple in Siem Reap

Image Source: Shutterstock

The distance from the APOPO visitor centre to Angkor Wat is 3.1 km and shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes to reach. After exploring the exhibits, delve into the rich history and architectural marvels of Angkor Wat. The world’s largest religious monument, Angkor Wat is a magnificent complex built by the Khmer Empire.
Address: Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia
Timings: 7:30 AM to 5:30 PM

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2. Angkor Thom

The picturesque vista of Angkor Thom

Image Source: Shutterstock

Another ancient city in Cambodia under the Khmer Empire is Angkor Thom. The place hosts a collection of temples, including the famous Bayon Temple. A visit to this fortified city gives you a glimpse into the past era under the reign of the Khmer Empire.
Address: National Road #6 Angkor Archaeological Park, Siem Reap
Timings: 7:00 AM to 6:00 PM

3. Cambodian Landmine Museum

The interior view of a museum in Cambodia

Image Source: Shutterstock

While you learn about the demining efforts at APOPO Visitor Center, make your way to the Cambodian Landmine Museum to enrich your knowledge further. Various exhibits showcase the structure, design and process of a landmine blast. You also get a closer look into the stories of each landmine victim and understand the dire need for immediate action to put a stop to the ongoing massacre that’s been going on.
Address: 67, Phumi Khna, Cambodia
Timings: 7:30 AM to 5:30 PM

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How To Reach The APOPO Visitor Center?

Combodia Airways plane is landing on runway at Suvarnabhumi International Airport

Image Source: Shutterstock

The APOPO Visitor Center is on Koumai Road in Siem Reap, easily accessible to tourists. You can take a tuk-tuk, the most common Cambodian mode of transport, from the town centre. The journey will take around 15 minutes and cost around $5. Alternatively, taxis are also available. The centre also offers bicycle rentals for those seeking a more leisurely approach.
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A visit to the APOPO Visitor Center is not your common tourist experience, but is more and will transform your thought process. It sheds light on a critical global issue of landmine contamination by showcasing an innovative solution with the partnership between humans and HeroRATs. The centre educated you about something you most likely have been unaware of. On your next trip to Cambodia, prioritise learning about APOPO’s efforts to deminate across several countries.

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Cover Image Source: Shutterstock

Frequently Asked Questions About APOPO Visitor Center

Are there any age restrictions for visiting the APOPO Visitor Center?

No, there are no age restrictions. People of all ages are allowed in the centre.

Is photography allowed at the APOPO Visitor Center?

Yes, photography is allowed inside the APOPO Visitor Center, but make sure not to disturb the HeroRATs.

What are the facilities available for disabled people at APOPO Visitor Center?

The APOPO Visitor Center has ramps for wheelchairs and restrooms equipped for those with disabilities.

What are the languages in which the tours are available?

Guided tours are typically offered in English, French, and Khmer.

Can one adopt a HeroRAT?

No, one can’t, but you can sponsor programs, which contribute to the ongoing care and training of the HeroRATs.

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