Nestled in the tranquil hills surrounding Kep, Starling Ridge Plantation Resort offers a luxurious private plantation stay for visitors to Cambodia’s South coast. With stunning views over the Kep National Park and the Gulf of Thailand coupled with a cooling sea breeze, you can relax in one of the resort pools, cycle one of the hill trails, hike through the forest or enjoy a relaxing massage at their spa. Starling Ridge Resort is a part of the family owned pepper plantation located in the heart of the world’s premier pepper growing region, Kampot. With a choice of accommodation options, such as their Hermitage Villa or their intimate wooden bungalows, this newly-opened resort also offers a series of excursions and of course, their own plantation tours. Well worth considering if you are seeking a relaxing break from the hustle and bustle of Phnom Penh.
Archive for the ‘Adventure’ Category
The clock is ticking on seeing the rare Irrawaddy dolphins in Cambodia.
The freshwater Irrawaddy dolphin is an endangered species throughout Asia, with shrinking numbers inhabiting stretches of the Mekong River in Cambodia and Laos, and isolated pockets in Myanmar. The dark blue to grey cetaceans grow to 2.75m long and are recognisable by their bulging foreheads and small dorsal fins. They can live in fresh or salt water, although they are seldom seen in the sea. Before the civil war, locals say, Cambodia was home to as many as 1000 dolphins. However, during the Pol Pot regime, many were hunted for their oils, and their numbers continue to plummet even as drastic protection measures have been put in place, including a ban on fishing and commercial motorised boat traffic on much of the Mekong between Kratie and Stung Treng. The dolphins continue to die off at an alarming rate, and experts now estimate that there are fewer than 85 Irrawaddy dolphins left in the Mekong between Kratie and the Lao border.
The place to see them is at Kampi, about 15km north of Kratie, on the road to Sambor. Motorboats shuttle visitors out to the middle of the river to view the dolphins at close quarters. Encourage the boat driver to use the engine as little as possible once near the dolphins, as the noise is sure to disturb them. It is also possible to see them near the Lao border in Stung Treng province, at Preah Rumkel, which also boasts a community homestay. Another serious threat to the lifespan of the dolphins is the environmental impact of a series of hydroelectric dam projects that are in the works in both Laos and Cambodia. No-one really knows the impact on the Mekong River and its tributaries or the knock-on effect on the dolphins and fish stocks that inhabit the rivers, but environmentalists fear the outcome will be nothing short of catastrophic. Our message is simple, see them while you can.
Original elephant adventures with Cambodia’s EVP.
For an original elephant experience, visit the Elephant Valley Project. The project entices local mahouts to bring their over-worked or injured elephants to this sanctuary, where, in the words of project coordinator, Jack Highwood, ‘they can learn how to act like elephants again.’ A Briton with a contagious passion for elephants, Highwood is on a mission to improve the lot of Mondulkiri’s working elephants. While Bunong tradition calls for giving elephants a certain amount of down time, Highwood says that economic incentives to overwork elephants prove too great for the impoverished mahouts of Mondulkiri. In addition to toting tourists around on their backs, elephants are hired to haul around anything and everything, including illegally cut timber. Most tour companies in Mondulkiri stress that their tours employ only humanely treated elephants. Highwood commends this, but says it’s the exception rather than the rule. “Most elephants in Mondulkiri are in a highly abused state. They are beaten on the head and made to do things they aren’t meant to be doing.’
Enter the Elephant Valley Project. Mahouts who bring their elephants here are paid a competitive working wage to retire their elephants full time to ecotourism. Mahouts continue to work with their elephants, feeding and caring for them and making sure they don’t escape into the wild. The elephants, for their part, can spend their days blasting through the forest in search of food, uprooting saplings to get to their yummy roots and hanging out by the river spraying mud on one another. You are not allowed to ride the elephants here. Instead, you simply walk through the forest with them and observe them in their element. In the process you learn a lot about not only elephant behaviour but also Bunong culture and forest ecology. Other project components include health care for the Bunong communities in the project area, and health and veterinary care for the mahouts of Mondulkiri. The Wildlife Conservation Society lauds the EVP for helping to protect the eastern reaches of the Seima-Protected Forest.
The main option for visiting the EVP is a day trip in which half the day is spent observing the elephants, and half the day is spent washing the elephants and doing other tasks around the project site. There are a few exquisite bungalows at EVP but at the moment they are not able to accept overnight stays. Access to the site is strictly-controlled so don’t show up unannounced and the maximum number of day trippers allowed per day is 12. The site is not open to visitors on Saturday and Sunday, however there are plans to open six days a week in the future.
The EVP recently announced a fund-raising effort so that one of Phnom Penh’s best-known residents, Sambo the elephant, can see out his final years enjoying himself with the other elephants at the project. Forced to retire by authorities from giving rides at Wat Phnom and then his daily walk along the riverfront of the capital, Sambo has been in limbo for a while but it looks likely that he will be the latest addition to the EVP. Which is welcome news. Hanuman have been big supporters of EVP for many years, so don’t hesitate to contact us for more details on this excellent adventure in northeast Cambodia.
Bringing the Siem Reap River to life with exciting new raft adventures.
With the Flight of the Gibbon ziplines already a firm favourite amongst visitors to the Angkor Park in Siem Reap, Cambodia, a brand new activity is just about to take off with the arrival of Float Angkor, and their eco-tour raft adventures. Amongst the temples of Angkor lies the Siem Reap River, as it meanders its way from the hills above Angkor, through the temple complex and out into the Tonle Sap Lake. Float Angkor will bring the river and the natural beauty of the surrounding forest to life. Their rafts will accommodate no more than six people at a time, everyone gets a safety briefing and equipment before they are allowed on the river and go-pro helmet cams are also available. All of the river guides have been trained by a world champion kayaker, Eric Southwick, so you know you’ll be in safe hands. Float Angkor is expected to be fully operational by the end of this year.
Pandaw press release says: “The new Halong Bay and the Red River itinerary provides agents with a luxury expedition product like no other. Customers looking for that once in a lifetime experience without compromising on luxury will, for the first time, be able to visit the iconic Halong Bay as well as the remote upper Red River in one 10-day itinerary.” Pandaw’s newest sailing includes two days of sightseeing in the bustling city of Hanoi before entering the Red River with its emerald green rice paddies and 8th and 11th century Buddhist temples. Unexplored by any other river expedition company, Pandaw’s route into the upper Red River will visit the region close to China’s Yunnan Province where the river narrows. Hiking from a remote river village is on offer for guests keen to make the most of this unique off-the-beaten-track experience.
Pandaw guests will enjoy a ‘yacht-like’ feel onboard the 16-suite Angkor Pandaw as well as five-star luxury service and a crew to passenger ratio of 2:1. All excursions are included in this unique itinerary. Guests will also visit floating villages, a floating school and limestone caves in Halong Bay before entering the Kinh Thay River, mooring at Yen Duc Village surrounded by historic mountains. On the Duong River, the Angkor Pandaw will visit local villages known for their 11th century folk painting and traditional ceramic production.
Some trees at the Tomb Raider Temple of Ta Prohm at Angkor will soon disappear.
Ta Prohm, loved by many for its overgrown feel as well as its links to Angelina Jolie and her Tomb Raider adventures, will lose four of its distinctive trees very soon after officials overseeing the Angkor park decided to remove them for safety reasons. Three of the cotton-silk trees intertwined with the ruins are already dead and rotting on the inside, and another larger tree growing on one of the temple’s walls and careening sideways over the structure is in a precarious state, and must come down. The safety of visitors to Ta Prohm is paramount and though the temple’s fame is built around it back to nature atmosphere, the authorities have to strike the right balance at the 12th Century temple.
Hanuman join the Koki Cruise in Phnom Penh.
The Hanuman Sales Team enjoyed a sunset cruise at the weekend with the Koki Cruise company, a new venture started by local entrepreneur Tong Khiev. Koki’s traditional style wooden boat takes 25 people in comfort to explore the waterways surrounding Cambodia’s capital. Drinks and tasty snacks are served by the friendly, welcoming Koki cruise team and the boat is available for private hire at very affordable prices. A sunset cruise is a great way to enjoy a different perspective of Phnom Penh and enjoy one of the city’s famous sunsets in a relaxed, comfortable and fun environment. Koki also takes passengers all the way up to Silk Island (Koh Dach) on full day trips and also offers fun fishing tours. Ask the Hanuman team for more details.
Laos remains one of the most authentic locations in Asia. See it soon.
According to Lonely Planet writer Nick Ray, Laos, long a forgotten backwater, combines some of the best elements of Southeast Asia in one bite-sized destination. If you want a guidebook that does the same, get a copy of the Lonely Planet guide to Laos, which came out earlier this year, and is filled with detailed information on what to see and enjoy in this charming and authentic country. Over 340 pages with great tips, maps, photographs and recommendations that will help make your visit so much more enjoyable. The LP Laos Top 10 is a listing of what you must not miss. Here it is:
1 – Luang Prabang. 2 – Si Phan Don. 3 – The Gibbon Experience. 4 – Vang Vieng. 5 – River Trips. 6 – Trekking & Homestays. 7 – Vieng Xai Caves. 8 – Bolaven Plateau. 9 – Tham Kong Lo. 10 – Vientiane.
So what makes Luang Prabang the No 1 attraction? Hemmed in by the Mekong and Khan rivers, this timeless city of temples is a travel editor’s dream: rich in royal history, saffron-clad monks, stunning river views, world-class French cuisine and the best boutique accommodation in Southeast Asia. Hire a bike and explore the tropical peninsula’s backstreets, take a cooking class, go on an elephant trek or just ease back with a restful massage at one of the many affordable spas. Prepare to adjust your timetable and stay a little longer than planned.
Prek Toal is the entry point to a majestic bird sanctuary and is a fascinating floating village in its own right.
Prek Toal is one of the most important floating villages on the Tonle Sap as it acts as the gateway to the stunning bird sanctuary of the same name, where a significant number of rare breeds gather in a small area. Prek Toal village itself is one of the Great Lakes’ most visited as it sits on the waterway between Siem Reap and Battambang. Take a look yourself with Hanuman Travel TV.
Life on the water at Kompong Luong in rural Cambodia is a world away from the frenetic streets of Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. See for yourself.
Everything in Kompong Luong floats on water – houses, cafes, shops, chicken coops, fish ponds, karaoke bars, you name it, even the local pagoda. This picturesque partly ethnic-Vietnamese floating village is located around 40km east of Pursat, and lies just off national highway 5 between Battambang and Phnom Penh. It’s one of the largest of the Tonle Sap lake floating villages and is much less visited than the ones closer to Siem Reap. Enjoy this video from Hanuman Travel TV and ask for more information from the Hanuman Sales Team if you want to visit Kompong Luong or any of the unique floating villages in Cambodia.