- This event has passed.
South East Asian Wildlife Exploration
March 14 - April 8£1242 – £5066
South East Asian Wildlife Exploration
Throughout our exploration of South East Asia we will be visiting no less than 7 different reserves and national parks in search of wildlife and even enjoy a boat trip looking for a very endangered and unusual freshwater dolphin. Each park has its own variety of wildlife and in addition to wildlife watching we will visit various cultural sites including the World Heritage site of Luang Prabang and its various temples, and palaces; the incredible Ankor Wat temples that are being reclaimed by the forest in the most beautiful way but are still in use today and the floating villages around Seim Reap. We believe that by immersing ourselves into the cultures and histories of each country can one fully appreciate the natural environment and most importantly begin to understand what pressures the environment faces from the local people. It is only by understanding the needs and lifestyles of the local people that any sustainable conservation policy can be put in place.
Top Animals on Tour
Northern Buff-cheeked Gibbon
Southern Buff-cheeked Gibbon
Today you will be collected from the airport when you arrive into Bangkok airport and taken directly to the hotel. You will check in and get some rest before leaving for Kaeng Krachen National Park bright and early tomorrow.
Kaeng Krachen National Park
This morning we will be collected from our hotel by our local guide / driver and taken south-west to Kaeng Krachen National Park (2.3 hours). Kaeng Krachen National Park is the largest national park in Thailand and along with the adjacent Tanintharyi Nature Reserve in Burma there is a large continuous protected area covering 18,730km2. The park is regarded as the best bird and butterfly watching location in Thailand with over 420 species of birds and 300 plus butterflies recorded from here. After arriving at our accommodation here we will spend the rest of the day exploring the park, some of the rarer species of birds we will look for include ratchet-tailed treepies, white-fronted scops owl, giant pitta, woolly-necked storks, great argus, grey-headed fish eagles as well as 7 species of hornbills and all 7 species of Thai broadbills. We will also be on the lookout for some of the 57 species of mammals that inhabit the park including dusky-leaf langurs, yellow-throated martens, black giant squirrel, grey-bellied squirrels, variable squirrels, masked palm civet, Asian palm civet, northern treeshrew, sambar and red muntjac and the main target here the lar gibbon. Rarer animals that inhabit the park include leopards, tigers, clouded leopards, sun bears, Asiatic elephants, banteng, dhole and guar to name a few. We will travel around the park by vehicle and also walk to some areas where wildlife can be seen as well as visiting scenic areas such as Thortip Waterfall and Pa La-U stream. We will return to the campsite for our lunch and spend the middle part of the day out of the sun, then in the afternoon we will head back into the forest and look for more wildlife. After dark we will have a short spotlighting session around the campsite and restaurant as porcupines and various civets are commonly seen around here after dark.
Kaeng Krachen National Park
For the next two full days we will explore the park on foot by walking along the road and also in a vehicle, the other option that we will have will be to spend some time in a wildlife watching hide that they have set up in a promising place for wildlife. By walking some of the trails we will get closer to the wildlife and it is an excellent way to see the bird life as well as smaller animals such as butterflies, lizards and also a great way of finding primates such as banded langurs, dusky langurs and stump-tailed macaques as they chatter and feed amongst the canopy. Our guides will have a good idea of where the fruiting trees at this time of year are and we will check them out too. The rainforests in Asia are unusual in that the large fruiting trees do not have distinct fruiting seasons and so the same trees do not always fruit at the same time of year. How the animals know the right trees are in fruit at the right time is unknown to us at present, but it is good that our guides spend so much time in the park that they know where these trees are and so we can better focus our efforts on certain areas. This is a sure fire way to find primates and we may spot a family of lar gibbons or even a binturong feeding in the larger fruiting trees. We will have morning and afternoon trips into the park and possibly the chance for spotlighting after dark again. There are many waterways inside the park and we will use some of these as good places to find wildlife including the very water dependent Asiatic elephant and tiger. Should we be lucky enough to see these species here it is most likely to be around water at either the Phetchaburi or Pran Buri Rivers which both flow to the Kaeng Krachan dam which further flows into the Gulf of Thailand. If we do have some spotlighting after dark it may be possible to find Bengal slow loris, Burmese hares, lesser oriental mousedeer as well as civets and if we are really lucky a species of cat. Leopards are not an uncommon sighting here and it is worth keeping a keen eye out for leopards as we drive up and down the roads in the park in the early mornings and late evenings.
Khao Yai National Park
This morning we will spend a little time looking for more wildlife before our breakfast and then packing up and departing and heading north-east towards the capital and then beyond to Khao Yai National Park (5-6 hours), we will stop for lunch along the way. Once we arrive at the park we will check into our accommodation and then head into the park. Khao Yai National Park the most popular park in Thailand and it is here that we are likely to see more tourists than any other parks. But the benefits of this park in terms of wildlife mean that putting up with a few more tourists than other places is well worth it. Covering over 3,000km it is the 3rd largest park in Thailand and with different habitats spanning the range of elevations from 400-1,000m the wealth of life is incredible. Over 3,000 species of plants, 320 birds recorded and amazingly 66 species of mammals. The park boasts some very popular species such as Asiatic elephants, Asiatic black bears, guar, dhole, leopards and one of the last remaining populations of tigers in eastern Thailand. There are various scenic waterfalls inside the park and most are accessible with a drive and then short walk, there are also a good network of trails including some short ones. We will probably arrive too late to spend a lot of time in the park, but do have a national park night safari planned for tonight. One of the most commonly sought after species of rare nocturnal mammals in this park is the binturong and we will spend time spotlighting for this animal. It is the largest member of the civet family and resembles a cross between a bear and a cat and hence its other common name the bear-cat. Other common species that are seen at night are sambar deer, red muntjac, yellow-throated martens and we will also hope for Bengal slow loris, Malayan porcupine, Asiatic black bear and common palm civet. We will then retire to our rooms back at the hotel to get ready for more wildlife watching in Khao Yai tomorrow.
Khao Yai National Park
Today we will spend the full day exploring Khao Yai National Park and looking for as much wildlife as possible. The park is home to a few species that are relatively easy to see such as lar gibbons, giant black squirrels, variable squirrels, grey-bellied squirrels, northern pig-tailed macaques and red muntjacs. Rarer animals that we will try for include Asiatic elephants, dhole and the pileated gibbon which looks odd with its monk like hair style. Along with the mammals there is a wealth of bird and reptile life here and we will surely see a superb array of bird species including various species of barbets, broadbills, pittas, hornbills and also the mountain scops-owl, great slaty woodpecker, collared owlets, blue-winged leafbirds, Asian fairy bluebirds and over 300 other species. In the morning we will hopefully be tracking down the pileated gibbon and other primates that enjoy the early morning for calling, grooming and then feeding. By listening for the distinctive whooping calls of the various families of gibbons (both lar and pileated gibbons live in Khao Yai) we will hopefully be able to track them down and watch as they swing quickly and acrobatically through the forest. The grasslands are a very good place to start and look for wildlife and sambar and red muntjac are often here grazing, there are also various waterholes that are frequented by carnivores during the dry season and we will hope to see dhole if we are lucky. There are tigers here however they are very low in number and none have been seen for a while now, only the occasion paw print or camera trap image confirms that they are still here. In between our excursions into the park we will return to the accommodation for our meals then after it is dark we will have another night safari into the park. The night safaris are by far the best way to see many of the rarer species and alongside the more common species listed on day 5 we will hope for Indo-Chinese clouded leopard, Asiatic golden cat, marbled cat and other elusive species.
This morning we will depart from here after breakfast and head back to Bangkok and the airport (3.5 hours) and from here we will catch the flight to Luang Prabang in Laos. Meaning Royal Buddha Image, Luang Prabang is the capital of this province in Laos, located on the Mekong River the small city has a population of around 50,000. The rest of the afternoon and evening will be spent relaxing and resting, the city has many historical sights which we will visit tomorrow, so today you are free to do as you like and your guide can recommend a restaurant for dinner unless you wish to have it at the accommodation, lunch and dinner today are extra.
This morning before breakfast we will visit a local market and watch as the people perform their daily ‘tak-bak’ this is their alms ritual where food is given to Buddhist monks, this is the traditional way of the Buddhist monasteries sustaining themselves but it is now a dying ritual and the spectacle in Luang Prabang is the biggest left in the world. After breakfast we will then have a half day city tour around the beautiful UNESCO World Heritage city of Luang Prabang. We will visit the national museum, which is the former Royal Palace, apart from being a palace full of history some of the best artefacts and items of interest from the whole of Laos are on display here. We will then visit impressive stupa of Wat Visoun; built in 1513 and is Luang Prabang’s oldest temple; as well as the shrine of Wat Aham, Wat Mai; which is the largest and most decorated temple in Luang Prabang; and Wat Xieng Thong. We then (if you wish) can climb up to the top of Phousi Mount (100m high hill) for an exploration of the sacred, gilded stupa, which is a stunning stupa and the views over the city are beautiful. We will be able to stop for lunch in a local restaurant whenever you are hungry and the same for dinner. It would be good to have dinner somewhere we can watch the sun setting overlooking the city and the Mekong River (one of Asia’s and the world’s greatest rivers). As with yesterday only the breakfast is included today with lunch and dinner extra. We will then head back to the accommodation for the night, and tomorrow we will head further into the Laotian countryside as we head deeper into and towards some of the largest primary forests left in South East Asia and the home of some of the world’s rarest primates.
This morning we will breakfast at the hotel before being taken to the magical Pak Ou Caves, this cave system is comprised of three main caves, Pak Ou (mouth of the Ou River), Tham Ting (lower cave) and Tham Theung (upper cave) and they all overlook the Mekong River. The caves are crammed with thousands of images and miniature Buddha statues and the sight is spectacular. From here we will visit a local whiskey distillery and despite being so far away from the ancestral home of whiskey in Scotland it is a favourite drink in South East Asia and we will see the process of distilling before continuing our journey north to the little rustic town of Nong Khiaw (2 hours). The rest of the afternoon is free for you to rest and relax or maybe explore a little of the town. We are now getting deep into rural Laos and it is highly recommended to spend the sunset from the bridge over the Ou River and watch as the boats drift by and below.
Today you will enjoy a full day boat adventure along the Om River and into the heart of rural Laos. This is a part of Laos that few people experience and a wonderful contrast to the towns and cities that we have also visited and will continue to travel to and through on the rest of this trip. You will have you own personal boat and captain and spend the day meandering through the rivers many meandering turns and little rapids (nothing to worry about). Today is all about letting go and enjoying the scenery and the people working the fields and the bird life that lives alongside the river and benefiting from agriculture around here and the many insects that live around farm land. Along the way we will enjoy a packed lunch on the banks of the river before reaching the small riverside village of Muong Ngoi. This is one of the smaller villages around here and only started to receive permanent electricity in 2013, there are no roads accessing the village but more and more people are beginning to find the place and the stunning setting is just once reason, to get away from everything being the other draw card of a trip here. Once at Muong Ngoi you will have time to reflect on your morning on the river before returning to Nong Khiaw for the evening. This is a day to recharge the batteries in between some longer days of travelling.
After breakfast, we will leave Nong Khiaw and travel back south to Luang Prabang (2 hours). Once back in the town we will visit a traditional craft centre and you will have a little class in making some of the traditional handicraft of the region as well as attending your very own ‘Baci Ceremony’. Traditionally this ceremony is for births, marriages, celebrating new year and also welcoming and saying farewell to guests. You then have your last night in Luang Prabang to enjoy as you wish and select one of the many wonderful restaurants for dinner.
Today you are free to enjoy your last morning in Luang Prabang before being transferring to the airport to catch the flight to Siem Reap, we will arrive there and on meeting our new guide / driver we will be taken to a restaurant to have lunch (not included) after checking into the hotel. After lunch we will then depart for an unspoiled floating community called Kampong Phluk which is astonishing for its stilted-house villages and flooded forest. Whilst not a true ‘floating’ village it is a very interesting stop to see how people have coped with living around such a large amount of water; before visiting the floating village we will make a stop at the Rolous Market for a tour around; this is a great chance for you to take the photos of locals selling indigenous vegetables, different fish species and other local produce. Have a glimpse of one of the bridges built in French colony and overlook at the Rolous River, whose waters flow into the Great Lake Tonle Sap. After this market tour we’ll all have a boat trip to the floating community of Kampong Phluk, visit an island pagoda, school and houses standing on 8 or 10m high stilts, fish farms and learn about the village life. We then get into a row boat and venturing beyond the villages into the flooded forest, the habitat to some of water-bird species. After this fabulous day seeing some of Cambodia’s rich and varied culture we return you to your hotel where you have time to freshen up before being picked up and taken to the fabulous Cambodian circus, a mixture of acrobatics, music, dance and culture all before we will be taken into town or back to the hotel for dinner (not included).
We will start our full day exploring the world famous temple complex of Angkor Wat by venturing out to Ta Prohm temple, which has been abandoned to the elements; a reminder that while empires rise and fall; a note that the riotous power of nature marches on and remains oblivious to the insignificant 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 and return. We will then continue to 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.
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.
Next up is a 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 a fabulous day around the temples we return you to your hotel where the rest of the evening is free for you to relax and to absorb the hundreds of years of history we have seen today.
Ban Lung (Yaek Loem Lake)
This morning we will leave Siem Reap after an early breakfast and start our Cambodian gibbon adventure by journeying across the province of Preah Vihear, named after the late 9th century temple to the province of Steung Treng. Before arriving in Steung Treng for lunch (not included) we cross the Mekong River by a local ferry, which we share with local villagers and is a great experience in itself. We then continue to Ban Lung in the province of Ratanakiri arriving in afternoon. Before checking in to the hotel we stop off at Yaek Loem volcanic lake. You will have time to relax and admire your surroundings. We will then transfer you to your hotel where you are then free to relax and settle in your surrounding 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. This project started in 2010 when a new species of gibbon; the ‘northern buff-cheeked’ gibbon was discovered in 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. Money raised from bringing tourists here is fed back into the local community which helps in preventing the illegal logging and poaching that unfortunately takes place in the area. 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. So for tonight you can then enjoy your last night in civilization (well for a night anyway) before your adventure begins.
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. At around 8pm we will head into the forest for a 1 hour night jungle walk, spotlighting is one of the best wildlife watching experiences and the only way to see several rare and elusive animals. The canopy is home to many nocturnal animals such as the pygmy slow loris (a small arboreal primate) and various species of civet as well as leopard cats and mouse-deer. We will then return to the accommodation and get some sleep before we go and search for the gibbons tomorrow morning.
Veun Sai-Siem Pang Conservation Area
Today will be the earliest we are expected to rise, 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. Dinner can be taken at the hotel or a nearby restaurant but is not included. 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.
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. After lunch we then continue to Sen Monorom, the first half of the journey to Snuol is flat, passing through patches of lush forest and areas of cultivation and plantations. After Khau Si Ma district, the road snakes up through the mountains that give Mondulkiri its name of ‘where the mountains meet’ and its other nickname ‘the Switzerland of Cambodia’. There is lush jungle hugging the road and locals claim to see tigers on this stretch at night. Nearing Sen Monorom, the provincial capital, the scenery changes again, jungle giving way to clusters of pine trees and rolling grasslands. The scenery is unique for Cambodia and dotted with traditional Pnong villages, the main minority group in Mondulkiri. Once in Sen Monorom we go straight to your hotel (Lodge) where you have the evening to settle in and relax.
Mondulkiri Elephant Sanctuary
Today we travel to the nearby Elephant Valley Project, situated about 11km from town and part of the Mondulkiri Elephant Sanctuary. Surrounded by forest and grassland dedicated to the conservation and welfare of the Cambodian elephant this location is ideal for the rehabilitation of the elephants that have been rescued and is one of only a handful of elephant sanctuaries in the world. The sanctuary with the support of the Bunong villagers rescues and treats elephants who have suffered injury and abuse. Enjoy a unique ‘Walking with the Herd for a day’ experience. You will be introduced to the herd of elephants and get to know more about their history, character, behaviour and body language while walking alongside them in their natural environment, this is also a great way to see other wildlife in the forest. You will be able to feed the elephants buckets of bananas and bathe the elephants before watching them cover themselves in mud again. After lunch at the sanctuary, you will undertake a walk with the elephants through the stunning Mondulkiri countryside to a waterfall, where the elephants will have a bath. For the rest of the day you can relax and unwind around the forest and countryside with the elephants and then in the evening at the base camp and enjoy some delicious food. As a wonderful insight into Cambodian culture (and to celebrate your last night in Cambodia), we take you to a local village just outside the town. Once we arrive at the village you are free to explore and play games with the local children before the village elder’s return from their days work in the fields. You can then help prepare (or just eat) a traditional evening meal and BBQ. Enjoy a fantastic cultural evening, be brave and sample a few shots of traditional home brewed rice wine if you dare before returning back to your hotel. Tomorrow we leave Cambodia and travel to our fourth and final country of this trip, Vietnam.
Nam Cat Tien National Park
This morning we will leave Sen Monorom and head eastwards towards Huo Lu on the border of Vietnam. After conducting the immigration at the border we will leave our Cambodian driver and guide and meet our Vietnamese driver and guide and travel to Nam Cat Tien National Park (5 hours). We will arrive at the accommodation located on the banks of the Dong Nai River and after arriving here you will have the rest of the day to rest and relax after a long day of travelling and immigration protocol. In the evening we will have a night safari to try and see some of the nocturnal species that inhabit the park and tomorrow we will start early and head into the park to search for the primates. 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 golden-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
A 5am start will take you in to 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 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 wel 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. 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 leave the lodge and travel by vehicle to Saigon (4 hours), we will catch our flight from Saigon to Hanoi (2 hours) in the afternoon and on arrival in Hanoi we will be taken to our hotel for the night. The rest of the day will be free for you to rest and relax, if we have time we can head into the city and explore a night market and maybe try some of the delicious street food that makes South East Asian cuisine such a favourite around the world.
Van Long Reserve
After breakfast at the hotel, we will transfer you to the Ninh Binh Province (2 hours). On arrival you will meet your specialist wildlife guide that has come from the nearby Cuc Phuong National park specifically to guide us today. We will have lunch around the park and then in the afternoon, you will then visit 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 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. We will then return to the hotel as the sun is beginning to set across the forest.
Cat Ba National Park
This morning after breakfast we will be driven from Ninh Binh to Hai Phong (3.5 hours) and then we will take a hydrofoil ferry from here to Cat Ba island check into the hotel. Cat Ba is the largest of the 367 islands spanning 260km2 that comprise the Cat Ba Archipelago, which makes up the south-eastern edge of Ha Long Bay. Approximately half of the island is covered by the Cat Ba National Park, which is home to the highly endangered Cat Ba Langur, which is only found on this island and there are only around 100 left in the world. The island has a wide variety of natural ecosystems, both marine and terrestrial, leading to incredibly high rates of biodiversity. Our resort has a nice beach and so you can spend time relaxing here this evening. Tomorrow we will head into the park and see if we can find any wildlife here, the langurs are very hard to find but we will see what we can find in the forests here as there are lots of species on the island which we could result in a productive day.
Cat Ba National Park
After breakfast, we will visit Cat Ba National Park on the other side of the island. We will then walk in the park, looking for various species including the very rare and very hard to see Cat Ba langur. A particularly nice place to visit is the view point on a small hill. Along the way we will see the diversity of the different kinds of insects, reptiles and birds as well as keeping our ears and eyes alert to the sound of primates. We will visit a small village called Viet Hai. It is a local isolated village, separate from the rest of the island and home to many local fishermen. We then have lunch with a local family. In the afternoon, we will enjoy a relaxing walk through the agricultural fields and then finish the day with an easy cycle along a jungle road until we get to Lan Ha Bay. Here we can stop at the beach to rest and relax before returning to the accommodation in the evening.
Today we will have a relaxing morning and some free time before we get the ferry back to the mainland and then meet our driver and travel back to Hanoi (4 hours), on arrival in Hanoi we will go to our hotel, check in and you will have the rest of the day to rest and relax. If we have time and you would like we can go into the city and have our final meal in Vietnam here (dinner not included).
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.
Thailand, Laos & 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 Thailand and from 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 Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. These are all available in advance and on arrival. The easiest way to find information is by visiting https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/ (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 on arrival vary in price but are usually between USD $30-50 for a single entry visa which is valid for 30-90 days, however things change so please check out the website above for more information. You also need to bring a passport picture with you.
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 Thailand, Laos, Cambodia or Vietnam, but it is recommended to be protected against polio, typhoid, tetanus and hepatitis A & B, Yellow Fever, Japanese encephalitis 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.
Reviews of this Holiday
Mrs Rhoda Boyer-Perkins - Michigan, USA
Mr. Joe Boyer - Michigan, USA
The Shaws, Southampton