Rural Cambodians are recruiting the help of fish in an innovative way of keeping dengue fever, which is rife across the country, at bay.
Small rainbow-coloured guppy fish can be seen darting in the barrels of water that dot households throughout one Cambodian rural province.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
While visitors would be forgiven for thinking they are the Khmer alternative to the goldfish that are kept as pets in the West, these fish serve a much more serious purpose – a life-saving one, in fact.
As part of a one-year pioneering pilot project carried out across Kampong Cham province by the charity Malaria Consortium, villagers have been breeding guppies in barrels of water as part of the battle against dengue fever.
The mosquito-borne disease is rampant across Cambodia – with the province holding one of the country’s highest dengue rates. And with no known cure or vaccine against it, preventative measures are essential to avoid contracting the tropical disease, which can cause debilitating flu-like symptoms, vomiting, skin rash and muscle ache.
In severe cases, it can develop into a deadly haemorrhagic fever.
Under the scheme, more than 3,000 households were given the larvae-eating fish to breed in water used to clean and cook at their homes. The rest was left to nature.
And it appears getting the guppies on board to help with the fight against the disease has paid off, with the fish helping slash the presence of dengue mosquitos by 46%.
Another bonus is the fish costs only a few cents, making it affordable across developing countries.
“The idea was to create a sustainable solution for the villagers, with minimal costs and inconvenience for them,” John Hustedt, senior technical officer at Malaria Consortium Cambodia, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Hopes are now high that the government will roll out the scheme across the country, where almost 2,000 cases of dengue have been reported between 1980 and 2008. This is one of the highest rates in Southeast Asia.
Dengue isn’t a disease confined to Cambodia, with it found in 100 countries worldwide – a sharp leap from the nine recorded in 1960 by the World Health Organization. The amount of cases reported has also jumped from 15,000 annually in 1960 to today’s more than 390 million.
In addition to health impact, experts claim dengue poses massive economic ramifications. It is estimated the disease costs Southeast Asian economies almost $2.4 billion annually.
“The approach to dengue is reactive; when there is an outbreak. We have to get more pro-active in controlling it before it becomes an even greater threat,” says James Tibenderana, Malalaria Consortium’s global technical director.
Unlike malaria, there is no treatment for dengue, or widely-available vaccine. While symptoms and the severity of the disease vary wildly from case to case, patients are generally recommended to rest, drink water and take medicine to ease the pain.
Symptoms usually start some three to 14 days after infection, with recovery taking anywhere between two to seven days.
Dengue mosquitos prefer the daylight and their favourite time to feast is usually a few hours after dawn and before dusk. In contrast, malaria mosquitos like to strike at night.
This means lashings of DEET should be applied at this time, and it is recommended to keep wrists and ankles covered. And don’t forget to put mosquito nets to use when they’re provided because they’re there for a good reason.
Dengue-carrying mosquitos are recognisable by their black and white spots.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.