Discover Cambodia’s Unique Bird Life
With its distinctive wetlands and nature reserves, Cambodia provides a natural habitat for a wide variety of endangered bird species. Starting from Siem Reap, this tour combines excursions to various bird sanctuaries with a visit to remote temples.
Benefiting from the expertise of a seasoned ornithologist, we topp at a homestay to learn about the award-winning project of a nature conservation organisation.
- Day 1 Boat excursion to the Prek Toal Bird Sanctuary on Tonle Sap Lake
- Day 2 Daytrip to Trapaeng Tmor Crane Sanctuary
- Day 3 Preah Vihear temple complex, visit to Tmatboey Ibis Reserve & homestay
- Day 4 Bird watching and exploring the Lost City of Koh Ker
Day 1: We are picked up from our hotel early in the morning and taken to the boat dock. With our wooden boat we gently glide across Tonle Sap See to the floating village of Prek Toal. Guided by a park ranger and ornithologist, we enter the nature reserve. With a bit of luck, we are able to watch a number of different bird species including storks, pelicans, ibises and cormorants. After lunch in a floating house, we explore the village in a paddle boat. Having learned a great deal about traditional fishing methods and after a visit to a water hyacinth weaving workshop, we make our way back to Siem Reap in the evening.
Day 2: The former reservoir is now a crane sanctuary managed by the Wildlife Conversation Society (WCS) of Cambodia. Apart from about 300 Sarus Cranes, the reserve is, especially during the dry season, home to 198 other bird species, 18 of which are on the brink of extinction.
We leave early in the morning to make sure we get to our destination in good time. Upon arrival, we first enjoy our packed breakfast. Before beginning our exploration, an expert tells us more about the different types of birds living here and the sanctuary itself. In the late morning we visit a silk weaving village before going for lunch at the WCS base. In the afternoon, we wander through another part of the reserve before heading back to Siem Reap in the evening.
Day 3: An off-road vehicle takes us in the direction of Preah Vihear in the Damrek mountains in the early morning. Completed by the architect of Angkor Wat in 1150, Preah Vihear is situated directly on the border to Thailand. The site offers a magnificent view of the vast open spaces of Cambodia.
After our lunch break, we continue our excursion, heading south to the Tmatboey Bird Sanctuary, an eco-tourism project of WCS Cambodia which won Wild Asia’s annual Responsible Tourism Award in 2007. Home to one of only two known nesting areas of the giant ibis, the nature reserve is also the habitat of other rare bird species, including the white-shouldered ibis and the sarus crane. Following a day of fascinating wildlife observations, we retreat to our homestay, a WCS project, where we are looked after by local families.
Day 4: At the break of dawn, we set out on another excursion to the bird sanctuary for one more chance of a close encounter with rare bird species. After breakfast in the camp, we say good-bye to our hosts and continue in the direction of Koh Ker where we explore by bicycle the former capital of the Khmer empire built in the 10th century A.D. Sitting on roughly 35 square kilometres of land, Koh Kehr is made up of a large number of buildings of different sizes.
In the afternoon, we make our way back to Siem Reap.
The above tours are therefore sample itineraries.
Tourist hub of Cambodia
As gateway to the temples of Angkor, Siem Reap is clearly the tourist hub of Cambodia. Accordingly, the town offers a vast array of accommodation options, ranging from boutique guest houses to some of the best hotels in the region.
The picturesque town centre hosts many speciality restaurants, lively bars, designer boutiques and a bustling night market.
Apart from temple visits, there are plenty activities that warrant a longer stay than just a couple of days, ranging from photography courses to cycling adventures to excursions to nearby bird sanctuaries or a homestay in a floating village on the nearby Tonle Sap Lake.
The area around the provincial capital of Siem Reap is dotted with dozens of temple complexes, most of them situated in the Angkor Archaeological Park to the North of the town.
Among the countless treasures first-time visitors should at least include Angkor Wat, believed to be the world’s largest religious building, the Bayon with its mysterious face towers and the complexes of Agnkor Thom, a walled fortress which was once the centre world’s largest city.
On the way to and back from these complexes visits of other temples are easily possible, above all of Ta Prohm which has been left to the forces of nature by archaeologists, many parts of its structure being embraced by the roots of gigantic trees.
At least two days are required for a relatively detailed exploration of Angkor Archaeological Park which can be reached conveniently by car, tuk tuk or bicycle. The area is too large to be explored on foot.
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