Cambodia & Vietnam Wildlife Tour
April 24 - May 10£850 – £4250
Cambodia & Vietnam Wildlife Tour
Cambodia and Vietnam are home to some incredible rare and enigmatic species and this trip is unique in combining these two countries and visiting some of the best wildlife watching locations in each. Some of the langurs, gibbons, birds and reptiles are so endangered that there are under 100 individuals left in the world.
Alongside these very rare species we will also be watching out for more common species such as sambar deer, muntjacs, hornbills and macaques.
As well as the wildlife watching locations on this trip we will also be visiting various cultural sites including the incredible Angkor Wat, the largest religious temple in the world and of which some of the temples are being reclaimed by the forest in the most beautiful way.
Top Animals on Tour
Pygmy Slow Loris
Today you will be collected from the airport on arrival and then you will be taken to your accommodation. The rest of the day will be free for you to rest and relax around the area and catch up on any jet lag. Tomorrow we will explore Angkor Wat in full.
After breakfast, you will be collected from the hotel and taken to visit the Mother of all temples, Angkor Wat. Believed to be the world’s largest religious building, this temple is the perfect fusion of symbolism and symmetry and a source of pride and strength to all Khmers. Built in the 12th century by King Suryavarman II, this is most famous temple at Angkor. We begin by unravelling the mysteries of the bas-reliefs that tell of tales from Hindu mythology and of the glories of the Khmer empire. Stretching for almost one kilometre, these intricate carvings are a candidate for the world’s longest unbroken piece of art. Following in the footsteps of the devout and the destructive before us, we then continue to the upper levels of the inner sanctuary. The final steps to the upper terrace of Angkor are the steepest of all, as pilgrims of old were to stoop on their pilgrimage to encounter the Gods. Finally the pinnacle, the sacred heart of Angkor Wat, a blend of spirituality and symmetry so perfect that few moments will measure up.
Also this morning, we continue to Ta Prohm temple, which has been abandoned to the elements, a reminder that while empires rise and fall, the riotous power of nature marches on, oblivious to the dramas of human history. Left as it was ‘discovered’ by French explorer Henri Mouhot in 1860, the tentacle-like tree roots here are slowly strangling the surviving stones, man first conquering nature to create, nature later conquering man to destroy.
In the afternoon, we visit the immense walled city of Angkor Thom that was the masterpiece of King Jayavarman VII. Following the occupation of Angkor by the Chams from 1177 to 1181, the new king decided to build an impregnable fortress at the heart of his empire. The scale is simply staggering and we are immediately overwhelmed by the audacity of Jayavarman on arrival at the city’s gates. The causeway is lined by an intricate bridge depicting the Churning of the Ocean of Milk from Hindu mythology in which devas (gods) and asuras (devils) play tug of war with a naga (seven-headed serpent) to obtain the elixir of immortality.
We begin our visit at the Terrace of the Leper King. This intricately carved platform was the royal crematorium and the statue that was originally thought to be the leper king is now believed to be Yama, the god of death. We continue along the Terrace of Elephants, originally used as a viewing gallery for the king to preside over parades, performances and traditional sports. At the southern end lies the Baphuon, once of the most beautiful temples at Angkor, dating from the reign of Uditayavarman in the 11th century. It has undergone a massive renovation by the French and is now once again open for viewing.
Our climax is the enigmatic and enchanting temple of the Bayon. At the exact centre of Angkor Thom, this is an eccentric expression of the creative genius and inflated ego of Cambodia’s most celebrated king. Its 54 towers are each topped off with the four faces of Avalokiteshvara (Buddha of Compassion), which bear more than a passing resemblance to the king himself. These colossal heads stare down from every side, exuding power and control with a hint of compassion, just the mix required to keep a hold on such a vast empire. Before clambering upwards, we unravel the mysteries of the bas-reliefs, with their intricate scenes of ancient battles against the Chams and their snapshot of daily life during the Angkor period.
After leaving the temples we will be taken back to the hotel and we can explore the town or just relax, the rest of the evening and night are free for your leisure.
Ban Lung (Beng Melea)
Today we leave Siem Reap after an early breakfast and start our adventure by journeying across the province of Preah Vihear, named after the late 9th century temple to the province of Steung Treng. Along the way we will stop at Beng Melea; a sprawling jungle temple that is still largely covered in vegetation as it is less visited by tourists than the main temple complex. We will spend some time exploring this adventurous temple before we stop for a local lunch. From here we then cross the Mekong River by a local ferry, which we share with local villagers. We then continue to Ban Lung, arriving in the province of Ratanakiri in the late afternoon. You will then have the rest of the day to relax until the gibbon trek evening briefing at 7pm. At the meeting we will run over the trek details for the next couple of days, this gibbon experience is run by the Gibbon Spotting Cambodia conservation project that are working hard to protect the Veun Sai-Siem Pang Conservation Area. Working with researchers they habituated a gibbon family and now through eco-tourism this critically endangered species of gibbon is being used as a model species for similar projects in South East Asia. At the briefing this evening you will be told more about the project and then go to see the gibbons and other wildlife in the forest.
Veun Sai-Siem Pang Conservation Area
You will be picked up from your hotel at 8am and we depart by car from Ban Lung at 8:30am. The journey is 35 km north to Kachon village (45 mins). In Kachon, a traditional boat will be waiting to take you the 12km (45 mins) downstream on the Sesan River to Veun Sai town. Along the way we will be able to observe some wildlife on the riverbank (mostly bird life) as well as the daily activities of the people who live along the river. In Veun Sai town we will take a bicycle for 30 minutes to the I Tub village, a Laotian community roughly halfway to the Veun Sai-Siem Pang Conservation Area station. Once in I Tub, we will take a short break for lunch and meet with a member of the Community-based Ecotourism Team. After lunch we continue to the station by bike along a forest path. There is a high possibility of seeing tracks and signs of some of the local wildlife that live here such as the claw marks of the sun bear on the tree trunks, the footprints of deer and other species as well as seeing some local bird species. We will cycle the majority of the way but in order to get a good look at our surroundings we will also walk in some parts. At around 3pm we will arrive at the gibbon research station where you will be introduced to the station chief, scientists, researchers, and your gibbon guide who will show you around the camp. You then have time to relax and make yourself comfortable before walking to the nearby savannah for a spot of bird watching; before sitting down to an early dinner at 6:45pm.
Veun Sai-Siem Pang Conservation Area
Today will be the earliest we are expected to rise on the trip, as the gibbons are up early we will get up at 3:15am. As soon as dawn breaks the gibbons call to mark their territory and this is the best way of finding them. At 4am, whilst it is still dark we following a small trail to the protected gibbon area about 45 minutes away to make sure that we are there in time to hear their call. We then reach the edge of a grassy savannah and wait for the call of a certain gibbon family, currently the only group that accepts people in their presence. The different groups start to call (sing) at around sunrise with some calls carrying up to 2km. Once the habituated groups of gibbon’s starts to sing, the gibbon guide will try to locate them in the forest as fast as possible and he will guide us to the spot so we can watch them as they go about their morning activities in the tree canopy. In some cases they let you come very close – less than 15 meters – which provides an excellent opportunity to take pictures. This is a special time as the gibbons can travel quickly in the trees and leave in a split second, anytime they want. Once they do, it can be very difficult for us to find them again, however the group can often be followed for a couple of hours throughout the forest. After the gibbon spotting we head back to the station for brunch at about 10am. We then pack up and get ready to leave the forest. We will follow a different path through the jungle and head back to I Tub village. Again, some parts we will cycle some we will walk. On the way we visit a Chinese and Laos settlement and take a short walk around the village. It’s a nice idyllic village with friendly people and on certain days you will be able to witness traditional local weaving. We then continue back to Veun Sai town, cross the Sesan River by a small ferry, before stopping off for lunch at a restaurant that boasts a beautiful view of the river. Our journey has now come to an end and we are picked up by car and travel back to Ban Lung arriving at approximately 3pm. Once back at the hotel you will be free to have the rest of the day to rest and catch up on sleep from such an early start. Tomorrow we depart and start our journey south-east through Cambodia and towards the border with Vietnam, however we have some more excellent things to see and do in Cambodia first, so a good night’s rest is well recommended.
Kratie (Yaek Lom Lake)
Today we rise early to visit the Yaek Loem volcanic lake. It has been said that the most peaceful time to visit is first thing in the morning. You will have time to relax, admire your surroundings and even swim in its fresh waters before we head back to the hotel for breakfast. After breakfast we depart from Ban Lung and begin our journey to Kratie arriving in the early afternoon. The rest of the day is free for your leisure.
Kampi Lake – Nam Cat Tien NP
Today we leave early after breakfast and drive towards the riverside town of Kratie where we will be stopping for lunch. However before reaching Kratie we will have a dolphin watching cruise up river. We will be aiming to encounter the rare (and largely freshwater) Irrawaddy dolphins which inhabit the stretch of river in the dolphin “pool” of Kampi. We we be taken aboard a traditional fishermen boat which takes us to the deep pools where the dolphins are found. Viewing is commonplace, although it is easier to see the dolphins in the shallower waters of the dry season, than in the swollen river of the wet season. This afternoon we will leave Kratie and enter Vietnam thru the Hoa Lu Border Gate. From the border crossing we will be taken directly to Cat Tien National Park which is roughly 150 km drive to the north (5 hours). Cat Tien National Park contains the largest remaining area of lowland tropical forest in southern Vietnam and an incredible diversity of mammals and birds. Cat Tien is home to three of Vietnam’s endangered primates; the Black-Shanked Douc Langur, Silvered Langur and Buff-Cheeked Gibbon. Upon our arrival, we will check in to your new accommodation and you then have the rest of the evening to settle into your new surroundings. We will arrive too late to enter the park today, however we will be able to discuss with the local guide about the possibility of a night walk with spotlights, we will have to play this by ear. Nam Cat Tien National Park covers 719km2 of lowland forest and swamp and is home to some of the highest biodiversity in South East Asia. Amongst the mammal species here are a number of primates such as the endemic buff-cheeked gibbon and the red-shanked douc langur, other mammals that inhabit the park include Asiatic black bears, Asiatic elephants, sun bears and gaur as well as around 100 other species. Over 350 species of birds have been recorded including specialities like Germain’s peacock pheasant, bar-bellied pitta and the rare endemic orange-necked partridge. The range of life found here is incredible with over 120 reptile and amphibian species, over 130 species of freshwater fish, around 460 species of butterflies and to date over 1,610 species of plants have been recorded. Tomorrow we will hope to see as much of this flora and fauna as possible.
Nam Cat Tien National Park
For the next two days we will start at 5am and take a walk into the forest for time to observe the primates as they start their daily routines; our main targets here will be the endangered buff-cheeked gibbons (which are a different species from the northern buff-cheeked gibbons from Cambodia) who call in the mornings and could be located this way along with black-shanked douc langurs and Annamese silvered langurs; we will also have a good chance of seeing various squirrel species and the common slender-tailed tree shrew. After seeing as many of these species as possible we will return for breakfast. After breakfast a car will then take us through 9km of lush, green forest towards Crocodile Lake (Bau Sau), we will then walk a little way to reach the shores of the lake. We will then enjoy the beauty of the lake wetland ecosystem stretches and its various bird life. The lake is over 13 hectares which swells to a massive 151 hectares when flooded. This lake plays an important role in the maintenance and conservation of the biodiversity in the region as well as the social and economic life of communities around the Dong Nai River Basin. We will also look out for some of the Siamese crocodiles that inhabit the lake, they were part of a 2000 reintroduction programme and have increased steadily in number since then. There are some small caves around the lake and its trails which we will explore a little as well. In the afternoon, we discover and enjoy the variety of trees and listen to the sounds of jungle as well as explore the forest again, before returning for lunch. In the evening we take part in a night safari. We begin by taking a car along the jungle trails to observe wild animals such as sambar deer, muntjacs, wild boar, Malay crested porcupines, gaur (rare) and yellow-throated martens. We will also hope for various civet species and maybe a pygmy slow loris. Also around Crocodile Lake there are a couple of cave systems that we will explore to see what bat species and other wildlife and geological features await us underground. We will then head back to the accommodation for dinner and for the night in preparation for our journey to Hanoi in the morning and our further exploration of Vietnam and its many remaining wilderness areas.
This morning we will have one final morning looking for any wildlife that may have eluded us so far in Nam Cat Tien National Park, before departing for Ho Chi Minh city (4 hours) and its airport, from here we will catch our flight (~1 hour) north to the city of Danang (sometimes called Da Nang). Will Danang is roughly in the middle of Vietnam and a great stop off as we will explore a couple of forests around here over the next couple of days. At the airport we will meet our new local guide and be taken to the hotel and the rest of the day is free for you to relax as you wish. Over the next couple of days we will hope for some of the harder to see species of the entire trip, the grey-shanked douc langur and some of the ungulates that inhabit the ‘almost’ mythical Annammite mountains such as the Annammite muntjac and the unusual soala. It is also one of the wettest areas in the world, and Bach Ma National Park is well known for its mist and rain, we will be travelling in the height of the dry season, but we will still need some luck for there to be no clouds or rain.
Son Tra NR & Bach Ma NP
This morning we will leave the hotel after breakfast and depart for Son Tra Nature Reserve, this is a small forest that still boasts populations of primates including red shanked douc langurs. We will spend some time here on our way to Bach Ma National Park and leave when the sun is getting too high and the temperatures increase. As well as the beautiful red shanked douc langur we will look for long-tailed macaques, stump-tailed macaques, northern pig-tailed macaques and various species of squirrels. There are also 118 bird species recorded from this forest as well. For its size Son Tra is an excellent little reserve and well worth the half day here. Once we arrive at Bach Ma we will check into our hotel and then spend the afternoon exploring the park. Whilst here we will try and search out the rare southern white-cheeked gibbon (one of the hardest species on this trip) as well as some of the terrestrial mammals such as Owston’s civet, large-antlered muntjac, Annamite muntjac and serow. If we are allowed (as the rules change so quickly) we will spotlight after dark and look for the pygmy slow loris.
Bach Ma National Park
Today is a full day exploring Bach Ma National Park, the morning will be spent listening out for the calls of the gibbons and then trying to locate them. The mornings are always the best time to see primates and particularly gibbons as the only call until around midday and then spend the rest of the day in almost silence. Bach Ma itself is 220km2 and harbours a great diversity of life, it is also up for consideration to be extended, the thinking being that the park could form a link from the coast through a protected areas in neighbouring Laos, and becoming a huge connected and protected ecosystem. This would be fantastic for Vietnam as the geographical position of Bach Ma (being in the overlap zone of the northern and southern Vietnam biomes as well as being part of the Annamite mountains) means its biodiversity is amongst the highest in the region. It is also one of the few places in Vietnam where wild Asiatic Elephants are still known from. Once again we will come back to the accommodation for our meals and if we are allowed we will head back into the forest after dark for some spotlighting.
Phong Nha National Park
This morning will be our last in Bach Ma National Park to look for any species that we have missed or if you wish we can have a relaxed morning. After breakfast we will depart and drive north to Phong Nha National Park and World Biosphere Reserve (5 hours), Phong Nha is regarded as one of the most beautiful parks in the region with a river that is bluer than blue and muddle of limestone karsts covered in very thick evergreen forest. In a country as agricultural as Vietnam is amazing that a place so wild and rugged still exists. There are some of the same primates here but also some new species such as Indochinese black langur, but we would look hard for these tomorrow morning. We would today check into our new hotel and then if we have time go into the forest in the afternoon.
Phong Nha National Park
Today will be a full day spent around the wonderful limestone karsts of Phong Nha National Park, our main target here is the range restricted Ha Tinh langur. Also found here are red shanked douc langurs, southern white-cheeked gibbons and the rare Indochinese black langurs. We will of course be on the look out for all of these species with the Ha Tinh langur and Indochinese langur the higher priorities here. There are also some caves around the forest here which we could explore, bat species that are known from here include Leschenault’s rousette, trident roundleaf bats and many more. The largest cave here is the Phong Nha cave and we can take a small boat ride through the cave and see the stunning rock formations and reflections on the water. Again it is not always possible to spotlight here because of the park rangers lack of interest or just bad attitudes, but we will see if it is possible and if so the chances of Owston’s civet and pygmy slow loris would increase. In between our safari activities we will return to the accommodation for our meals.
This morning we will have a little free time before our guide will collect us from the guest house and drive us to the small town of Hue, from here we will fly to Hanoi. On arrival in Hanoi we will be collected from the airport and driven the 2 hours or so to Ninh Binh. Ninh Binh is a large province in the north west of Vietnam. It is known for its lush green valleys and many limestone karsts. It is the limestone karsts that have become the home to our last endangered langur we hope to see. But this is for tomorrow, today we will arrive at the hotel and check in and have the rest of the afternoon to rest and relax before our last day searching for Vietnam’s rare primates.
Van Long Reserve / Hanoi
After breakfast we will leave the eco lodge and travel the short distance to the “Cat Scratch” mountain – the only home of the Delacour’s langurs (Voọc in Vietnamese) these are some of the most critically endangered animals in the world with only 250 remaining in the wild. In order to see them we will travel to Van Long Wharf where we will take a boat trip along the reservoir of Van Long Nature Reserve. This is the largest wetland of Northern Vietnam and the mountain in the reserve is around 1km boat trip and it is these limestone cliffs that are the best (if not only) place in the world to see the Delacour’s langur. In the mornings and late afternoons these primates aggregate here and are quite easy to see despite their very low numbers. From here we will then depart back to Hanoi and check into our hotel for the night. Because both our flights are not until late tomorrow and we have the final day of the tour in one of the busiest and most cultural cities in South East Asia it may be fitting to head into town and enjoy some good Vietnamese food before retiring back to the hotel after a successful trip.
After breakfast you will be transferred to the airport in time to catch your return flight home.
Please note that the itinerary stated above is correct as our planned intentions for the tour. However adverse weather conditions and other local considerations can necessitate some modifications of the itinerary during the course of the tour; any changes will be made to make the best of the time and weather conditions available to us.
This tour is available on different date (subject to availability) please contact us for more details about running this tour on a date which suits you more.
Cambodia’s climate, like that of much the rest of mainland Southeast Asia is dominated by monsoons, which are known as tropical wet and dry because of the distinctly marked seasonal differences. The southwest monsoon brings the rainy season from mid-May to mid-September or to early October, and the northeast monsoon flow of drier and cooler air lasts from early November to March.
The northern regions of Vietnam have a humid subtropical climate, with humidity averaging 84% throughout the year. However, because of differences in latitude and the marked variety of topographical relief, the climate tends to vary considerably from place to place. During the winter or dry season, extending roughly from November to April, the monsoon winds usually blow from the northeast along the China coast and across the Gulf of Tonkin, picking up considerable moisture; consequently the winter season in most parts of the country is dry only by comparison with the rainy or summer season.
Everything mentioned in the itinerary is included. Including three meals per day (breakfast, lunch and dinner). There will be an amount of bottled water (approx 1ltr) available for each guest each day. We have our own private vehicle to be driven by a local guide for transfers when needed.
All our excursions including guided walks, vehicle safaris, boat safaris and park entrance fees and guide fees also included.
We recommend you bring along your own binoculars or spotting scope as well as appropriate clothing; which should be both light and durable walking clothes as well as warm weather clothes, such as quick wicking t-shirts, shirts, shorts & trousers. Sun hat and sunglasses are essential. Broken in and comfortable, waterproof walking boots are essential. Any medication, books or other items of a personal nature is of course up to you to bring along. Oh and please bring plenty of memory cards or film for your camera.
We provide a comprehensive species list of all the vertebrates present in the areas we are visiting as well as some of the best field guides and reference books for the areas we are visiting. There is usually a spare pair of binoculars but in a group of 4 people these do not stretch too far. We also provide a spot light for nocturnal viewing (this is subject to local condition when we arrive). Where camping all camping gear is included as well as camp cooks and assistants where needed.
Nearly everything is included in this tour. The only things not included are international flights, travel insurance (contact us for more information one what is required from your insurance policy), any food bought outside of the three main meals, drinks outside of any offered with the meals and the bottled water provided each day and any items of a personal nature such as souvenirs and tips. Any applicable departure taxes and not included (but maybe included in the cost of your flights). Please check before departure.
As we are based in Manchester we recommend flights from Manchester International Airport
We recommend KLM or Air France as a good airline for flights to and from Cambodia and Vietnam. One of the best websites to search for the best fares for these flights is www.odopo.co.uk; who are IATA accredited this is a link direct to their site. Please check our terms and conditions regarding booking flights.
Please contact us for more information about flights and we can provide you with a link direct to the flights from another supplier; in which case you only have to enter the passenger information and payment details. By using the above link you will leave our site and we at Royle Safaris hold no responsibility for the content on the site.
Visas and Health Information
All UK passport holders and most other nationalities are required to have a visa for Cambodia. These are both available in advance and on arrival. The easiest way to find information is by visiting https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/cambodia/entry-requirements (be aware that this link leaves our site and we at Royle Safaris hold no responsibility for information on the site). A tourist visa costs around USD $30 for a single entry visa which is valid for 30 days, however things change so please check out the website above for more information. You also need to bring a passport picture with you.
There are no mandatory vaccinations needed to visit Cambodia, but it is recommended to be protected against polio, typhoid, tetanus and hepatitis A & B, Yellow Fever, MMR, Rabies as well as taking malaria prophylaxis. Please consult your GP about your individual requirements for visiting Cambodia as soon as you have decided on this trip.
All UK passport holders and most other nationalities are not required to have a visa for Vietnam, if staying in the country for less then 15 days – which is applicable for this tour (without any extensions pre or post the trip). The easiest way to find information is by visiting https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/vietnam/entry-requirements (be aware that this link leaves our site and we at Royle Safaris hold no responsibility for information on the site). For longer visas you can apply for a e-visa.
There are no mandatory vaccinations needed to visit Vietnam, but it is recommended to be protected against Yellow Fever, polio, typhoid, tetanus and hepatitis A & B, Japanese encephalitis, MMR, Rabies and diphtheria. Please consult your GP about your individual requirements for visiting Vietnam as soon as you have decided on this trip.
Reviews of this Holiday
Mr. Tom King - Kent, UK
Marie King - Kent, UK
Mr. & Mrs. Boyer - Michigan, USA