When to Travel

Most trips occur in the cool dry season from December to March. This is the best time to visit Cambodia when the daytime temperatures are low thirties and the heat is dry. Night-time temperatures are typically in the low twenties though occasionally a cold snap will drop to 13 or 14. By the end of February / beginning of March the temperature has started to climb both day and night-time reaching a peak in April / May.


Key Info

For more information contact us on +44 (0) 7414 00 66 03paul@greigsmithtravels.com

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Birds of Cambodia - Tailor made tour

Search for the rare Giant Ibis, Bengal Florican, Sarus Cranes, visiting some of the best bird and nature reserves in Cambodia as well as visiting the great Tonle Sap lake, a source of life and sustenance for the people as well as the birdlife.

Highlights

  1. Search for Giant Ibis, Bengal Florican, Sarus Cranes & much more!

  2. Temples of Beang Melea

  3. Tonle Sap, Great Lake & Prek Toal Bird Reserve

  4. Wildlife spotting off the beaten track in Cambodia

Day 1         Arrive in Siem Reap (-)

        Guests arrive in Siem Reap @ TBC

On arrival in Cambodia at Siem Reap International Airport, you will clear customs, immigration and visa control (You will need to ask for a ‘Tourist Visa at a cost of $20 - Be sure to bring two passport photos) Exiting to baggage claim, you will be met by our representative, holding a welcome sign with your name on it.

Transfer to Hotel with the rest of the day to be enjoyed at your leisure.

Accommodation:

Royal Bay Angkor Inn


Day 2        Sarus Crane Reserve at Ang Trapaeng Thmor (B, L)

Originating as a reservoir on the Angkorian highway 66, ATT was rebuilt as a man made reservoir by slave labour during the Khmer Rouge regime in 1976.  The reservoir is now a Sarus Crane reserve administered by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) with over 300 of these magnificent birds congregating to feed in the dry season along with another 198 recorded bird species, 18 of which are globally threatened. By February the dry season will be well underway and a few pairs of Black‐necked Storks frequent the site along with many of the large water birds seen at Prek Toal; Black‐headed Ibis, Milky and Painted Storks, Spot‐billed Pelicans, Oriental Darters, Asian Openbills and Greater and Lesser Adjutants.

A few pairs of Bengal Floricans breed here during the dry months though it is wary and a treat rather than a certainty to see. Other grassland specialists including Red Avadavat, Blue‐breasted Quail, and the 3 species of lark occurring in Cambodia. 6 species of duck (In February 2010 the Tufted Duck was spotted) four of which are resident including Comb Duck, can be seen along with birds of prey rare in the rest of the country such as Black Kite, Eastern Marsh and Pied Harriers (A Short toed Snake Eagle was seen by the same group).  Numerous waders, rails and shore birds can be found in the marshy belts of aquatic habitat. 

Accommodation:

Royal Bay Angkor Inn



Day 3 - 4    Bird Reserve of Prek Toal on the Tonle Sap Great Lake (B, L)

The Tonle Sap is the largest natural lake in South East Asia, fed by the phenomenal annual backflow of water from the Mekong River.  Situated in the North West corner of the lake, Prek Toal core bird reserve is home to the largest breeding colonies of water birds in South East Asia.  The reserve covers 22,000 hectares of seasonally flooded forest where only the tallest trees stand proud of the lake during the annual flood, providing a habitat for cormorants, pelicans, storks, and many other birds to roost and nest.


The village of Prek Toal, adjacent to the reserve floats at the river mouth of the Sangke River where it flows into the lake.  Every house is built on a platform of bamboo and moves according to the water level throughout the year.  Schools, local restaurants, a church, even vegetable patches, pig‐pens and crocodile farms all float.

In Cambodia and throughout South East Asia, Prek Toal is unmatched for the number and population of endangered water birds it supports during the dry season.  Large numbers of cormorants, storks and pelicans are virtually guaranteed from January to May along with herons, egrets and terns.

The sanctuary harbours seven species of global conservation significance: Spotbilled Pelican, Milky and Painted Storks, Lesser Adjutant, Greater Adjutant, Black‐headed Ibis and Oriental Darter and has a globally significant population of Grey‐headed Fish Eagle.  Since the Core Reserve was declared in 2002 and came under the protection of Ministry of Environment as advised by WCS, the numbers of all the above species have increased. 



The group will leave Siem Reap mid morning and have lunch in the boat on route for Prek Toal. The boat journey cuts through the flooded scrub and a small band of primary forest lining the lake. At Prek Toal the group transfers to a local boat, which is part of an initiative to help spread income from eco-tourism to the local village economy, and heads off into the core reserve for a WCS observation platform next to a bird colony. The group will return to the village for an overnight stay in the environmental research station with western washing facilities and proper beds with mosquito nets and dinner in a floating house.

On day 4 breakfast will be early to ensure that the group is in the core bird reserve for dawn. After visiting the reserve the group will have the option of a paddleboat tour around Prek Toal Village followed by lunch before returning to Siem Reap around 4pm.

Accommodation:

Environmental Research Centre
Royal Bay Angkor Inn


Day 5 - 7    Tmatboey via the Florican Grasslands for Bengal Florican (B, L, D)
The critically endangered Bengal Florican and many other water‐birds are found in the grasslands around the Tonle Sap Lake. The ‘Wildlife Conservation Society’ has worked with local communities to set up Integrated Farming and Biodiversity Areas (IFBAs) to conserve prime florican habitats. These bird watching trips give an income to the villagers who assist the Guide in locating the birds.  Finding the florican is usually easy, as they have been monitored since the start of the WCS conservation project in 2002.


                             The peak display time is between dawn and 9am and then again between 4.30pm and dusk.  The Manchurian Reed Warbler is a winter visitor, found in the tall grass and scrub away from water. Greater‐spotted and Imperial Eagles winter in the area feeding on the abundant rodents. There are large numbers of Eastern Marsh Harriers and smaller number of Pied Harriers wintering in the area, along with a few Black Kites, Peregrines and numerous resident Brahminy Kites. Oriental Plover pass through in March.


After visiting the Florican grasslands the group will back track slightly to the small town of Dam Daek and the turn for the temples of Beng Melea (approx. 70km from Dam Daek) and Koh Ker a further 40km. We will stop at 1 or both of these temples if time permits. Tmatboey, dependent on the road conditions is about 3 hours driving time from Siem Reap.  The Tmatboey Ibis Site is a conservation project set up by WCS together with the Cambodian Government and Tmatboey village.  Once it was realised that the site had potential for bird watching tourism a local committee was elected which built the guest accommodation and with training, provides the services for the bird watching groups that visit. In return for the income that this brings the villagers have signed no hunting and land conversion agreements. The Lodge is comprised of a central recreational thatched building and 4 surrounding bungalows each with 2 double en‐suite rooms with solar powered electricity.


The accommodation is basic but comfortable. Tmatboey is a remote Khmer village of 220 families situated in the centre of the Northern Plains of Cambodia, within the Khulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary, the country’s largest protected area. Tmatboey is 1 of only 2 known nesting sites in Asia for the Giant Ibis that use large trees in the forest away from the village.  White‐shouldered Ibis are found closer to the village where they are reliant on the grassland clearings amongst the dipteropcarp forest. Woolly‐necked Stork are relatively common and can be seen in flocks of over 40.  Greater‐spotted Eagle regularly over‐winter and Grey‐headed Fish Eagle and White‐rumped Falcon occur at low densities. The Pale‐capped Pigeon is another highlight along with an amazing diversity of woodpeckers and Brown Fish Owl, Spotted Wood Owl and Brown Wood Owl. In February 2010 night walks spotted Collared and Oriental Scops Owl, a mystery Aquila Eagle was seen on the same trip.



After settling in to their accommodation the group can take a short walk through the open forest to where the White shouldered Ibis come to roost at sunset. The next day will start early around 4 or 4.30am with a quick cup of tea or coffee, then a drive and a walk to less disturbed areas of forest where Giant Ibis have been located. Returning around 9am for breakfast at the Lodge.

The group can discuss with the Guide how they wish to spend the day outside the sunrise and sunset birding. Packed lunches can be arranged if they want to spend more time in the forest and night drives / walks can spot the owls and Savannah Night Jar. The village of Tmatboey is remote and self‐sufficient. We can organise an optional village tour, which takes in local trades as well as the school, a market garden, a still for sugar palm wine and points out the projects that the visitor’s conservation contributions have assisted.

Accommodation:

Tmatboey Lodge


Day 8        Return to Siem Reap via Koh Ker and Beng Melea Temples (B, L)

After a last morning bird watching in the forest around Tmatboey the group will head back to Siem Reap with the option of stopping at Koh Ker and Beng Melea temples on route.  Beng Melea complex though smaller in size than Angkor was a large temple in the Khmer Empire. Built by Suryavarman in sandstone from nearby quarries at  Phnom Kulen in the early 12th century. It is similar in design to Angkor Wat. Extensive carving depicts scenes from Hindu mythology.  Koh Ker, 2 hours from Siem Reap and less than an hour from Tmatboey, dates back to the tenth century when during the reign of Jayavarman IV it was the capitol of the Khmer Empire.   The temple is comprised of a premier pyramidal complex towering 7 tiered over nearby monuments, prasats and the huge baray (pool – now empty) of Rahal in the surrounding forest. 

Accommodation:

Royal Bay Angkor Inn


Day 9        Transfer to the Airport (B)

    You have the day to enjoy as you wish before we take you to the airport for your departing flight.  Please note that the $25 per person departure tax should now be included in your plane ticket.


Price is subject to change and availability


Tour Includes:

  1. Airport pick up and drop off

  2. Overnights as mentioned

  3. Excursions as mentioned and entrance fees to all sites

  4. Drinking Water

  5. Transportation in private A/C vehicle

  6. English speaking guide and local guides / rangers

  7. Conservation contribution to protected sites

  8. Meals as mentioned (Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner - excludes drinks)

  9. Public liability insurance

  10. All taxes


Tour Excludes:

  1. All International flights & Visa fees, currently $20 per person

  2. International airport tax (Included in Airline Ticket)

  3. Meals, unless mentioned differently

  4. Tips

  5. Beverages and personal expenses

  6. Other excursions and entrance fees

  7. Travel insurance (cover against all cancellation costs, medical expenses, including repatriation, in the event of accident of illness)


If you would like to stay an extra day to go back and explore the temples once returning from the bird tour this can also be arranged as an extension.


Note:

A single supplement is only available in Siem Reap at £50 per night (Total = £200 for 4 nights)




Additional Notes:

Most trips occur in the cool dry season from December to March. This is the best time to visit Cambodia when the daytime temperatures are low thirties and the heat is dry. Night-time temperatures are typically in the low twenties though occasionally a cold snap will drop to 13 or 14. By the end of February / beginning of March the temperature has started to climb both day and night-time reaching a peak in April / May.

Loose natural cloth clothing (with a hat) is most comfortable giving protection from the sun and mosquitoes. Most things are available in Siem Reap usually cheaper than in Europe or America but if your schedule allows little time the usual items for hot country countryside will help make your trip enjoyable; sun cream, mosquito repellent, a torch and earplugs.

Accommodation:
During the tour most of the areas we will be visiting are quite remote.  However even thought the level of accommodation in some areas will be basic all rooms are clean and tidy.  Also in some areas single rooms are limited and will be allocated when available.  Please be aware that guests may be asked to share a twin room in some circumstances.


Bird Watching

During the course of the itinerary Groups will encounter a range of different habitat; ATT – marsh, dry paddy, grassland and lake. Prek Toal – Semi submerged forest, flooded scrub and open lake. Florican Grasslands – Natural grassland and paddy on floodplain. Tmatboey – Deciduous dry dipteropcarp forest (DDF). Hiking boots, which give ankle protection against the small risk of snakebites are recommended for the forest walks. We have a couple of scopes, which it will try to allocate if the group has not brought one however in peak season they may have already been taken.


Health & Insurance

Necessary immunizations should be discussed with your own Doctor but from an expatriates point of view malaria is present in the forests where we visit and dengue fever occurs in the city’s though is much less prevalent during the dry season.  Food is cooked to order so food poisoning especially in the cooler less humid dry season is unlikely. The provision of emergency health cover while improving is still limited and in case of serious accidents, illness or snakebites it maybe necessary for you to be airlifted out of the country, you must have health insurance to cover this eventuality.

Cambodia is a developing country with a limited though rapidly changing infrastructure, which together with the incredible seasonal changes as exemplified most graphically by the Tonle Sap Lake means that schedules have to have a degree of flexibility. The rapid pace of development means that Cambodia will change irrevocably over the coming period and the next few years maybe the last

chance to catch a country that is an anomaly in the 21st century.

This itinerary takes in the WCS Conservation sites across Cambodia where we have exclusive access to environmentally sensitive areas of special biodiversity. These sites by their very nature are often in remote areas where local communities have limited exposure to other Cambodians let alone foreigners. This cultural gap is bridged by our multi lingual Guide but sometimes what seem like the simplest tasks can become very complicated so please have patience.

Sarus Cranes courtesy of SVC

spotbilled pelicans courtesy of SVC

Bengal Florican courtesy of SVC

Giant ibis courtesy of SVC

white shouldered Ibis courtesy of SVC

common palm civet courtesy of SVC

thickbilled green pigeon courtesy of SVC

Sarus Cranes courtesy of SVC

Sarus Cranes courtesy of SVC

vultures courtesy of SVC

white winged duck  courtesy of SVC

Giant ibis courtesy of SVC