On an unforgettable adventure that’s equal-parts ‘Indiana Jones’ and ‘David Attenborough’, step into the wonderfully mysterious world of the Khmer Empire. Explore the jungle-clad ruins Angkor and Preah Vihear, then venture off the beaten path to observe exotic wildlife. This tour was designed specifically to satisfy the needs of aspiring explorers.
Step back in time while exploring the jungle-clad ruins of the Khmer Empire in the ancient city of Angkor.
Take part in an enriching ‘day in the life of’ experience while meeting friendly locals in the little-visited village of Ta Brak.
Witness critically endangered species and other exotic wildlife at the pristine Kulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary
Jungle Wildlife And Temples - 8 Days / 7 Nights
On morning arrival into Siem Reap, the charming gateway to the famed temples of Angkor, you will be greeted by your local guide and accompanied to the hotel for check in.
After settling in to your comfortable new accommodation, you’ll begin your afternoon exploration of Angkor Wat by local remok (similar to a ‘tuk tuk’).
Built in the 12th century during the reign of King Suryavarman II, the temple was constructed to symbolize Mount Meru, a sacred mountain in Buddhism considered to be the center of all physical, metaphysical and spiritual universes. The temple itself is covered with stone carvings and has more than 2,000 Apsara dancers decorating the temple. Angkor Wat is so revered by the nation that Cambodia is the only flag in the world with a building on it – and that building is Angkor Wat.
Tonight enjoy a welcome dinner at Marum restaurant. Set in a delightful wooden house with a spacious garden, and featuring a winning mix of creative local cuisine, Marum is named after the Moringa, or 'Tree of life'. Visits not only provide an incredible dining experience, but also help to build a new life for the students in training there! Part of the Tree Alliance group of vocational training restaurants, they provide entry into the hospitality industry for local street kids and disadvantaged youths.
Overnight in Siem Reap
Experience the temples of Angkor in a different way today by bike with customized ‘remork’ (similar to the Thai tuk tuk) back up and assistance. A guide will accompany you on bicycle as well.
Departing early, the ‘remork’ will collect you at the hotel and transfer you to the outskirts of town. You will then be debriefed by an operational staff member who will check your bicycle and fitting. Here you will set off into the Angkor Park to Ta Prohm. Ta Prohm is unique in that it has been left largely as it was found: overgrown by jungle trees and vines, with many parts of the temple crumbling to the ground. This makes the ‘Tomb Raider Temple’ one of the most picturesque and memorable of the Angkor temples.
Continue cycling to continue to the ancient city of Angkor Thom, the last capital of the Great Khmer Empire under the reign of Jayavarman VII. This city is surrounded by an 8 m high wall, drawing a perfect square. Enter the city through the ancient South Gate, an impressive stone gate carved with Elephants and four giant faces. On each side of the entrance path a row of 54 gods or demons is holding the sacred Naga snake. Enter the city and cycle to the exact center where the Bayon Temple is located. This 12th century masterpiece is a study in grandeur and is well-known for its 54 towers with enigmatic faces representing the 54 provinces of the Great Khmer Empire.
From here you will travel onwards by car to Kbal Spean, one of the earliest Hindu pilgrimage sites in Cambodia. Here a deluxe picnic lunch will be waiting for you before taking a short 3 km round trek up the hill through dense jungle, which will reward you with the “River of 1000 Lingas” with some remarkable stone carvings of Hindu gods, animals and other symbols in the river bed. During the raining season, you can enjoy a refreshing bath in the waterfall, which is extremely popular with the local families. Please note the trek is fairly easy going but as the walk s up hill and on uneven ground it is really only suitable for clients with a good level of fitness and not suitable for clients with mobility problems.
The next stop is the “gem” of the Angkor area, the pretty temple of Banteay Srei. The so-called “Citadel of the Women” remains the best preserved temple in Cambodia. It displays some of the finest examples of classical Khmer art as this small temple is noted for its truly remarkable fine bas-reliefs. Banteay Srei is unique in that it is constructed of pink sandstone, which is seen nowhere else in Angkor.
Overnight in Siem Reap.
Today experience an incredible tour to learn about life in a typical Cambodian village, meet friendly locals and discover traditional village customs and cultures.
Guests will be picked up from their hotel early morning by the local guide and driven to Ta Brak village, 25 minutes out of town. A western packed breakfast from the hotel will be taken and on arrival will meet and sit down with a local family and share this breakfast with them and to learn about local village life early in the morning when generally it is at its most active.
From here a 30 minute ox cart ride through the village will take you to a local market where a short walk through this bustling center will introduce you to Cambodian vegetables, herbs, fruits and other local produce. Continue 1km by foot through the picturesque countryside village, stopping off to meet the local community along the way to observe whatever seasonal activity is happening at that time, such as rice planting, weaving thatch roofs, planting or harvesting vegetable crops, making fish traps etc. Each tour will be different and the activities will depend on the time of the year, the family, and the needs of the local village. The surrounding countryside with its paddy fields and sugar palm trees is very typical for Cambodia.
End the morning at the local pagoda where a special water blessing by Buddhist monks await.
Return to Siem Reap town and spend the afternoon at leisure with the chance to enjoy some optional tours or to relax at your hotel.
Option: Spa treatment
Be pampered at the stylish and modern Bodia Spa and enjoy an aromatherapy oil massage.
Option: Quad-Bike Adventure
An unforgettable experience as you will ride a quad bike especially designed for off road terrain through the beautiful countryside of Siem Reap Province. The guided tour will take you to local villages, where you can learn about the way of life in rural Cambodia and have the chance to meet and chat with the wonderful and friendly people. The highlight of the tour is the sunset in the rice fields.
Option: Horseback-Riding at Happy Ranch
Head to the Happy Ranch outside of Siem Reap, the only western style horse ranch in Cambodia. There, you will get acquainted with your horse of pure Cambodian breed, a descendant of the Mongolian wild horses. Enjoy the countryside on horseback! During the 2-hour trail ride you will get to places far outside the tourist area, through the rice fields and local villages to the rarely visited temple of Wat Atvea. Explore the peaceful temple ruins of the Angkor era, a truly authentic experience.
Later this evening you will be picked up for a tour of Siem Reap by Vespa! Start in the main tourist area to show you briefly what you won’t be experiencing this evening, so that you can later on appreciate what is out there for those with a taste for adventure.
From the Pub Street comfort zone and after a refreshing Vespa ride, night has fallen and you will find yourself in the middle of the hustle and bustle of street vendors inviting you to taste a seemingly endless variety of unusual foods and fruits that offer a spectacular diversity of flavors and colors. Not all is for the fainthearted, but then of course you are not……
The next stop of the tour is at a typical local grill and drink stand where tasty snacks and drinks are served. When you look around you will see only local customers enjoying the great food that is freshly prepared right in front of your eyes.
Into the night you move to yet another part of Siem Reap town with numerous night spots that are frequented by local clientele. Our destination is a special restaurant that is hidden in plain sight between the bars and nightclubs. This restaurant boasts a local menu that stands out in quality and variety. A selection of their best specialties will be served, accompanied by drinks and local music performances.
Just when you think that this is the end of the tour you are again in for a refreshing after dinner ride on the way to the desert of the tour. Located in again another part of town you will enter a typical Cambodian style house to be introduced to the magic art of rice wine infusion with special herbs and spices. You will taste these tropical concoctions, which will be complemented by a selection of local sweets.
The presentation of a special souvenir marks the end of the tour and your driver will bring you safely to your hotel or, at your choice, drop you off in the city center of Siem Reap.
Overnight in Siem Reap.
After breakfast travel northwards from Siem Reap to Preah Vihear Province. The road is perfectly paved and the drive to Preah Vihear should take about 3-4 hours. On the way stop for a short visit to Trapaeng Prasat Temple which offers an excellent view of the Preah Vihear mountain.
Upon your arrival you will check into your hotel where you will have lunch before travelling onwards to Preah Vihear Temple.
Upon arrival at the foot of Preah Vihear it is necessary to transfer into the back of a pick-up truck (operated by the local community) for the climb up the spectacularly steep mountain road.
On arrival at Preah Vihear Temple you will be rewarded with fabulous views over Cambodia’s and Thailand’s fertile plains from the impressive ruins which stretch for 500 meters up. The sanctuary is perched on the edge of the cliffs with amazing views over the seemingly endless Cambodian jungle to the south. The temple is not yet restored but has spectacular carvings and lintels which are almost as splendid as those at Banteay Srei. The temple is known to have been dedicated to the god Shiva and thought to have been constructed in the reign of Suryavarman I (1002-50), with further significant additions by Suryavarman II (1113-50). The spectacular location paired with a unique temple design are the reason UNESCO enlisted Preah Vihear as a World Heritage Site.
Overnight in Preah Vihear.
After a leisurely morning you will be picked up by your professional wildlife guide to travel to the iconic ecotourism lodge at Tmatboey, an isolated village located in the Kulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary in the Northern Plains of Cambodia. It is the site of a unique community ecotourism project established by the Ministry of Environment and the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Cambodia Program.
Tmatboey is world famous for the work done in the area for the conservation of one of the world’s most endangered mega avifauna species The Giant Ibis – Cambodia’s national bird. There are less than 150 left in the world and this is one of the most important habitats.
After arriving you will be greeted by the community and will spend the afternoon and early evening on wildlife and birding treks around this critical environment seeking the critically endangered Giant and White Shouldered Ibis, as well as a remarkable variety of woodpeckers, owls, eagles, butterflies and some very rare mammals – including Muntjac. For those interested there are some remarkable night trips to see a range of owls.
Dinner tonight is home cooked by the community in the open ‘restaurant’, before sleeping in simple but comfortable twin, ensuite lodge rooms with mosquito nets, fans, western bathrooms and hot water.
Early morning is one of the best times to spot birds and wildlife. After an early wakeup call you will depart on a wildlife walk at 5.30am. Pre walk snacks and coffee/tea will be available with a full breakfast on return.
For clients who would not prefer such an early start there is an excellent hide on site where you can quietly sit and watch a wide variety of forest birds and small mammals come into feed.
After breakfast, depart for the 2 hour transfer to the remote and stunning community ecolodge at Prey Veng Village, deep in the Kulen Prontep Wildlife Sanctuary driving in the last section on off road tracks. The lodge is on the banks of a 12th Century Baray 3km round – essential to both the community and the wildlife of the area. This site is particularly stunning in the ‘green season’ (July-November) – at this time the last leg needs to be via oxcart, an incredible experience and adventure for those who are up to it!
Just 300 m from the lodge, across paddy fields where the wildlife friendly, fair trade organic Ibis Rice is grown, is a huge, tumbledown ‘Hermits House’ 10th Century temple – completely unvisited by outsiders and rich in bird and butterfly life.
On arrival you will be greeted by the community with a delicious home cooked Khmer lunch and a bit of time to settle in before the afternoon’s activities – a wildlife visit to the temple, an evening wildlife walk around the Baray to see the mighty 2m tall Sarus Cranes, Green Peafowl, Giant Ibis, Wooly Necked Storks, Eagles, woodpeckers, Owls, Indochinese and Cambodian Striped Squirrels.
Walking with the local guide gives an insight into the community life – checking fishing traps, learning about rubber tapping or rice production. There is also the opportunity to take boats onto the Baray, cycle forest tracks, or to visit the nearby village or community forest and at certain times of the year to be involved with community activities such as rice harvesting or planting.
As the sun sets, take in sundowners on the platform built out onto the Baray watching as the wildlife and buffalo come in for evening feeding before another homecooked meal or BBQ and sleep in the twin roomed, ensuite lodge bedrooms with mosquito nets, fans, western bathrooms and hot/cold running water.
Overnight in Prey Veng.
Again, as the best time for wildlife viewing is early morning, depart for early wildlife and nature walk around the Baray at 5.30am. Or clients can choose to relax and just watch the morning develop from the platform.
Breakfast will be on return from the morning walk before leaving at around 10am for the short transfer to Koh Ker.
Koh Ker is a stunning and unique pyramidal temple built in 931AD, strikingly reminiscent of the structures built by the Central American Maya. Not only is the appearance unique but also the history, as this was the location that became the capital of the Khmer Empire away from the Angkor area for the only time in an otherwise uninterrupted 500 years
Start your explorations in the remote dry and semi evergreen forest and rarely visited outlying temples to discover the nature, wildlife, birds and incredible butterflies who live there, whilst exploring little known temples before heading to the main Koh Ker temple - Prasat Thom lunch will be served at a local restaurant right in front of the temple site.
By the early afternoon we will head back towards Siem Reap via the beautiful Beng Mealea temple – thought to be the template for Angkor Wat (1 hour drive), and explore this temple before heading back to Siem Reap. Arriving back at your hotel about 5.30pm.
Overnight in Siem Reap.
This morning you will transfer to the airport for your onward departure flight.
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