|DAY||SUMMARY OF ACTIVITY||LOCATION|
|1||Mekong boat cruise, Mekong Island visit and sunset return||Phnom Penh|
|2||Phnom Tamao animal park, Tonle Bati lake and Phnom Chisor temple||Phnom Penh|
|3||Kratie and its Irrawaddy Dolphins||Kratie|
|4||Transfer to Mondulkiri by scenic mountain roads||Mondulkiri|
|5||Day at the Elephant Valley Project||Mondulkiri|
|6||Visit the pre-Angkorian temple ruins at Sambor Prei Kuk, then on to Siem Reap||Siem Reap|
|7||Cycle tour of the temples, including Angkor Wat, Bayon Temple and Ta Phrom||Siem Reap|
|8||Landmine museum, Phnom Kulen temple mountain and waterfalls||Siem Reap|
|9||Prek Toal Bird Sanctuary and local floating village||Siem Reap|
MEKONG BOAT CRUISE
A boat cruise on the Mekong will provide an insight into everyday Khmer life. Watch the locals going about their everyday chores – washing clothes, taking a bath or vegetable gardening. See the different types of houseboats lived on by the Cham (Khmer Muslims) and Vietnamese.
Disembark onto Mekong Island to visit local villages where colourful mats and kramas (Khmer sarongs) are woven. En route back to the city, watch the sun set from the Mekong.
Phnom Tamao is home to a selection of wild, exotic animals that have been confiscated from traffickers. Meet tigers, monkeys, bears and others, up close. Hear their intriguing stories from our expert guide. Later, visit Tonle Bati to enjoy a picnic by the lake before exploring the Angkorian temple of Phnom Chisor.
Today we spend the day travelling through local villages and neighbourhoods to Kratie. You’ll see hills and mountains, watershed lowlands, dusty towns and incredible images which will fill your heart and give you a taste of this country.
Kratie is home to the Irrawaddy dolphins of the Mekong. The river is stunning here featuring large islets filled with green water plants and calm pools. The reason for our visit is to see the critically endangered fresh water Irrawaddy dolphins, deemed sacred by fishermen. There are very few dolphins left in this region, so you may be among the last to see them.
As you approach Mondulkiri, the landscape becomes more mountainous. You will notice that the forest cover varies, from the drier and sparser forest found in the southwest to the dense, impenetrable forest of the northern reaches. This area of Cambodia is rich in wildlife.
THE ELEPHANT SANCTUARY
Today we spend our time immersed in the simple yet amazing daily routine of the local elephants and mahouts. The Elephant Valley Project protects an area of forest from destruction to ensure that the Bunong people, elephants and the huge variety of other creatures in the forest have a habitat for the future. Surrounded by forest and grassland, this location is ideal for the rehabilitation of elephants. This is one of only a handful of elephant sanctuaries in the world. The day is spent learning about the projects’ conservation work.
SAMBOR PREI KUK
This morning we travel to Kompong Thom to see the most impressive collection of pre-Angkorian temple ruins in Cambodia at Sambor Prei Kuk. There are more than 100 small temples here, scattered throughout the forest. These are some of the oldest structures in the country and are an important destination for the serious temple visitor.
Originally called Isanapura, Sambor Prei Kuk was the capital of Chenla during the reign of the early 7th century King Isanavarman. This area is a link to the distant past and not to be missed by enthusiasts.
CYCLE TOUR OF THE TEMPLES
This gentle cycle ride gives you the chance to explore the hidden wonders of the Angkor complex, travelling along magical jungle paths and dirt roads only accessible by bike. Mango Cambodia developed this unique route specifically to avoid the throngs of tourists, and it’s become our most popular temple tour. In-between the main sights, there is often not another soul in sight.
We start the day early, transporting you to the temple complex by vehicle and then cycling to the stunning, jungle-clad temple of Ta Phrom. You’ll see how the tentacle-like tree roots are slowly strangling the surviving stones. It’s an evocative sight. Admire the temple in the early morning light and with fewer people around than later in the day.
Our journey continues with a tour of the South Gate of Angkor Thom, where we see the smiling faces of the Bayon Temple, the Terrace of Elephants and Terrace of the Leper King. After an early lunch we visit the spectacular Angkor Wat. During this time of the day the crowds are at a minimum letting you view this amazing structure at its most serene. If at any time you have had enough of cycling, we can relieve you of your bicycle and continue the tour in the support vehicle, which will never be far away, with copious supplies of ice cold bottled water available.
Please note: While Mango Cambodia has developed our own route, please discuss with your guide your expectations. We are happy to provide adventuresome cycling, single-track or a more sedate route.
Today we head north towards the old front of the civil war, taking in the fascinating Landmine Museum along the way, before crossing into former Khmer Rouge territory and making the pilgrimage to Cambodia’s most spiritual site – and the birthplace of the mighty Khmer empire – Phnom Kulen. Around 56 Angkorian temple ruins are located on the hilltop alongside earlier ruins and modern day pagodas.
At the top of Phnom Kulen is the river of a thousand lingas and the enormous reclining Buddha carved from rock at Ang Thom Pagoda. A series of tiered waterfalls and bathing pools give the perfect opportunity for cooling off. Bring along your bathing suits and take a refreshing dip in the cooling waters of Phnom Kulen. Lifejackets are available for children. The afternoon is spent relaxing and enjoying the surrounding natural beauty and serenity, perhaps enjoying a local lunch by the waters. There are options to either drive or trek further on to the summit, where the views are simply stunning.
PREK TOAL BIRD SANCTUARY
At dawn depart for Prek Toal bird sanctuary, quoted as being “the single most important breeding ground in Southeast Asia for globally threatened, large waterbirds”. The morning is dedicated to bird watching along the waterways, the lakeshore and from the top of the watching towers where the rangers guard the colonies.
At lunchtime, enjoy a local fresh fish meal cooked by villagers, and then tour the nearby floating village on a paddleboat organised by the community. Discover different aspects of the villagers’ activities: crocodile and fish farming, traditional medicine preparation, floating shops, spirit houses, floating schools, and more.
Free and easy and then we’ll transfer you to the airport for your onward flight.
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