Individually themed tents at Shinta Mani Wild - A Bensley Collection

1 December 2022


Learn about Bill Bensley’s Insight behind the Legend of Each Tent

In creating Shinta Mani Wild – A Bensley Collection, Bill Bensley named and themed each tent to give them an individual ambiance and DNA as part of his meaningful storytelling and as a tribute to the things that inspired him and are close to his heart in his beloved jungle retreat. Bill shares that “a deep understanding of the environment is paramount. The design must work in harmony with the environment and show respect for the location.”

Here are Bill’s insights into each of the names and themes he chose for each tent.

Tent #1 – Cambodian Royalty Tent [Waterfall Tent]

This tent is the camp’s cover girl. As the original mock up tent and the first built, she was the beautiful face of Shinta Mani Wild. After 18 months of facelifts and implants, Tent #1 went through a final transformation to become the Kingpin of our story and is still my favourite winter tent. In 1967 King Noradom Sihanouk invited the highly fashionable former First Lady, Jacky Kennedy to tour Cambodia. What if King Sihanouk had invited Jackie Kennedy on safari to the Cardamom Forest in 1967, what would she have experienced? How would she have arrived? What would the tents look like? This was my driving inspiration and DNA behind Shinta Mani Wild. The Cambodian Royalty Tent populates a super dramatic position on the Tmor River. As the furthest downriver, the most southerly, she enjoys the widest part of the river with the most water.

Tent #2 – First Lady Jackie Kennedy’s Tent [Waterfall Tent]

Understandably next to King Sihanouk’s tent, this tent is full of authentic ephemera documenting Jackie’s 1967 visit to Cambodia. The entry walkway of this tent is the most dramatic as it has a wonderful view upriver to the north. The tent levitates above monsoon rapids of the southernmost of the three tributaries. The power and music of the rushing water is magical; so much so that I employed a Cambodian style wooden floor with gaps to allow the psyche of the rapids to rise into the living room.

Tent #3 – Shinta Mani Foundation Tent [Wild Tent]

This tent is perched on a 25 meter wide boulder that disappears completely under white water at the peak of the monsoon season. It is like being on a giant surfboard. Inside is a lovely tribute to the men and women that have made the Foundation what it is today. For those wanting to learn more about the amazing work the Foundation does, please visit

Tent #4 – The Bohemian Tent [Wild Tent]

Bohemianism is the practice of an unconventional lifestyle, music, art, literature or spiritual pursuits; often in the company of like-minded people and something we all embraced in the 1960’s. This tent features some cool art with my favourite being a Cambodian Apsara dancer that was painted by the most famous Bohemian, Picasso. The colourful sofas created in the Bensley studios are very Bohemian. Inspired by the gorgeous work of Charles Harper, Bensley artists painted murals of each of the threatened animals of the Cardamom Forest in which the camp is located, and printed them onto canvas. These sofas are for sale with all profits going to Wildlife Alliance to help fund the important work they do to protect the forest and its inhabitants.

Tent #5 – Great Conservationists Tent [Wild Tent]

This tent is located closest to Headquarters and was named after the famous African conservationist and prolific author Sir Laurens van der Post. Bill has collected many of Sir Lauren’s books which are on display in the tent. Inscribed onto the face of the many antique trunks are the names of great conservationists both past and contemporary as a token of appreciation and dedication, including Douglas Tompkins (1943-2015) and his wife Kris Thompkins, Ansel Adams (1902-1984), Steven Irwin (1962-2006), Suwanna Gauntlett (Founder and CEO of Wildlife Alliance), Theodore Roosevelt Jr (1858-1919), Mr Sokoun Chanpreda, Dr Richard Leaky, Charles Joseph Sauriol (1904-1995), Billy Arjan Sing (1910-2010), Tuy Sereivathana, Chut Wutty (1972-2012), Andrew and Marit Miners of Misool Resort Indonesia, Dr Jane Goodall and the legendary Sir David Attenborough.

Tent #6 – Wildlife Alliance Tent [Wild Tent, part of the Two Bedroom Tent]

Just north of Headquarters and the Raging Big Sister Falls, Tent #6 floats over the widest but shallow third tributary. The approach is spectacular. You can stroll just above shallow rapids (in the magical monsoon season) on a succession of narrow wooden walkways that dance around this part of the jungle that thrives on wet roots. This tent is dedicated to the true heroes of the Cardamom Forest, Wildlife Alliance. Both here and in the nearby jungle capsule there is a distinct military twist mixed into the happy colourful interiors with some of the old Wildlife Alliance equipment used on the front line of protecting the Cardamoms.

Tent #6A –The Jungle Capsule [Eco Pod, part of the Two Bedroom Tent]

Designed like a funky home-made Airstream trailer on stilts, this simple double-bedded accommodation works well as an add-on to Tent #6 connected through a short wooden bridge.

Tent #7 - The Butterfly Tent [Wild Tent]

Tent #7 can be an amusing place to be as it is just below the Zip line at the confluence of two rivers and the place where a plethora of butterfly species were seen. Filled with butterfly art with the centrepieces being two colour paintings by famous UK artist Kate Spencer, this tent is delightful. Two enormous bronze butterflies float and flank the living room porch.

Tent #8 – King Jayavarman’s Tent [Wild Tent]

This is one of Bill’s favourite tents upstream as there is always an abundance of water that the setting sun somehow finds a way to reflect upon. One of the best waterholes to swim in is just below the tent. The feeling here is very much Jungle Book. Again Kate Spencer’s three fanciful interpretations of King Jayavarman take centre stage at the porch, above the dining table and facing the bed. Each powder room features a hand painted wallpaper by Bensley artists that reinforce the DNA of the tent.

Tent #9 – The Botanists Tent [Wild Tent]

Comfortably situated deep in the jungle, Spencer’s lively botanical paintings complement a bevy of bronze leaves. This tent has a wonderful view of the Tmor Rung River and is not too far from Headquarters. Pressed tin mirror frames and massive sky beds with cast metal detailing are featured in this tent. For a donation to Wildlife Alliance, any of the unique Bensley design pieces can be purchased and shipped to guests’ homes, enabling them to always have a little bit of Bensley Collection - Shinta Mani Wild with them.

Tent #10 – The Birders Tent [Wild Tent]

The jungle is perfect for bird watching and Tent #10 flies like a bird above much of the jungle canopy as it sits on the highest stilts – closer to the sky than the other tents. This incredibly airy tent as a lovely library of bird books and is graced with a great mural of a hornbill and 15 other Cambodian birds. General Manager David is an avid and extremely knowledgeable bird watcher.

Tent #11 – Shinta Mani’s Tent with a Heart [Wild Tent]

This tent showcases what is for sale at the camp. As fast as items can be produced they fly off the shelves. Did you know it takes 1200 litres of water to make one T-shirt? As a creative way to prompt donations for the critical work of Wildlife Alliance, Bill injected new life info classic denim jackets by adding a menagerie of beautiful animal patches and badges, some complete with bling and sequins! He calls this line Alliance of Wildlife for Wildlife Alliance and each jacket generates a USD 500 donation directly to the cause with all costs for the jacket and accoutrements paid personally by Bill.

Tent #12 – The Elephant’s Tent [Wild Tent]

A sculpture made of driftwood about the size of a four-year old elephant guards the front porch of this tent that sits close to the ground, surrounded by a bamboo thicket. Fourteen differently sized canvas panels were turned into a huge life-like painting of an elephant inundated with a cornucopia of Cambodian birds which is placed behind the dining table.

Tent #13 – The Terrapins Tent [Wild Tent]

The Royal Cambodian Terrapin not too long ago was thought to be extinct. Recently this handsome turtle was spotted, just once, at the Srey Ambel estuary where Bensley Collection docks their fleet of 3 expedition boats. If you are exceptionally lucky, you may see one as their numbers are slowly bouncing back. This tent was dedicated to those involved in the protection and breeding of Royal Terrapins.

Tent #14 – The National Geographic Tent [Waterfall Tent]

Long before he could even read, as a young child Bill loved the National Geographic Magazine. The ‘Nat Geo’ specials on the occasional Sunday night were reason for celebration and clearly their early influence of its stewardship of all things natural, gave birth to Bill’s lifelong love of wild things. Having been to a dozen or more of their Unique Lodges which he loves as they are so like-minded in principle with Shinta Mani Wild, – Bill was ecstatic to be accepted as a peer lodge. I love the siting of this tent in that it has the face of Raging Middle Sister Falls all to herself just 20 meters up river. Of all the tents this one probably has the best view. Guests can pop down to the base of the falls most of the year and have a lovely waterfall shower. Inside the tent guests will find dozens of vintage National Geographic magazines and a National Geographic Monopoly Board! Go straight to jail for Poaching!

Tent #15 – The Gibbons Tent [Waterfall Tent]

The farthest up the river valley and the farthest north, Tent #15 is clearly the most remote and the chances of hearing our small troop of resident pileated gibbons is best from here; especially early in the morning. As Bill’s ‘other’ favourite tent, this is perhaps the most dramatically sited tent in that it is right on top of a huge boulder that cantilevers 10 meters over the river below. It is a must see. The artwork is unique, with a large and unique painting of monkeys on tessellated recycled cardboard. This tent is stocked with the best books by Jane Goodall, Diane Fossey and Birute Galdikas.

Tents 1, 2, 14 and 15 are Waterfall Category, with all other tents being Wild Category. Rates differ for each category and are seasonal.

For more information and reservations, please contact Shinta Mani Wild – A Bensley Collection, please contact:

Tel: +855 12 223 782



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