Posts Tagged ‘Adventure’

Above Ground Adventures at Angkor

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

Hanuman’s Andy Brouwer reviews the adventures to be found above ground in Siem Reap.

My view of Bakong at Roluos from the flying moto

My view of Bakong at Roluos from the flying moto

Seeing Angkor and the surrounding countryside from what the locals affectionately call a “flying moto” is nothing short of exhilarating. I can vouch for that. But sat in a two-seat microlite is not for everyone. Especially if you have a nervous disposition. It took me most of an hour long flight for my heart to stop racing before I began to really enjoy the experience. And what an experience it was. Aero Cambodia operate two microlites from a landing strip just outside Siem Reap and are licensed to fly over many of the Angkor temples (but not Angkor Wat or Angkor Thom), the Tonle Sap Lake and above the lovely Siem Reap landscape. Eddie Smith is a very experienced pilot and he’s been taking satisfied guests into the air for many years before moving his operation to Siem Reap. If you would like to experience Angkor from the air, contact the Hanuman Sales Team for details. It’s definitely worth considering.

Another fun-packed adventure to be found above ground is the Flight of the Gibbon Angkor ziplines in the Angkor Park. Opened a few months ago, I had the opportunity to experience it for myself and not only was it a lot of fun but I was very impressed by the safety aspects of the whole operation. They take safety very seriously. Now, they have introduced a short, quicker package for guests who don’t have four or five hours to enjoy the whole course. The shorter version will still include four ziplines, sky bridges and an abseil and there’s a special introductory price if you book before the end of October.

Flight of the Gibbon have also teamed up with another of Siem Reap’s best adventures, the Quad Adventure Cambodia people and are offering a joint package of the full course of 10 thrilling ziplines, lunch in Angkor and then a 2+ hour quad adventure around the Siem Reap countryside, in their new Gibbon Quad Adventure. Definitely a great day out if you want a break from the temples for a while during your visit to Siem Reap. Contact our Sales Team for more details.

Looking for clues

Monday, April 7th, 2014
The Hanuman Scavenger Hunt teams

The Hanuman Scavenger Hunt teams

The Hanuman Group celebrated ahead of the Cambodian New Year with a thank you party for all the staff, as well as invited guests at HanumanAlaya in Siem Reap at the weekend. On Sunday, teams of staff members then visited the Roluos Group of temples, the floating village of Kompong Pluk and then spent the afternoon exploring Angkor Thom, as part of a scavenger hunt, that added a touch of mystery and intrigue to their visit. With a list of clues the teams had to find individual destinations within a series of different temples and take a snapshot of the location with their iPhones, before the winners were announced at the final meeting point, the Gate of the Dead. Here is a picture of the exhausted teams at the finishing stage. It was a lot of fun.

Gibbons in the Wild

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

Gibbon Spotting in the jungles of Ratanakiri with the local community.

Rare gibbons in Ratanakiri

Rare gibbons in Ratanakiri

Wildlife enthusiasts have a couple of months left to enjoy the opportunity of seeing and hearing an endangered species of gibbon in their natural habitat before the monsoon rains make it a much more difficult proposition. The Gibbon Spotting program in the Veun Sai-Siem Pang area of Ratanakiri, two hours distance from the provincial capital Banlung, is now run by local community members, with profits spread amongst the community group, and as a result, costs have been greatly reduced for visitors wishing to experience these rare creatures. Only small groups of between 2-6 visitors are allowed to visit the site in order to control the risk of the human impact as well as optimising chances of viewing the gibbons. The community guides run 2 day-1 night treks, with accommodation at the nearby ranger station, rudimentary and spartan but isn’t that all part of the adventure? The community have constructed a new five-room wooden building with mattress-bedding and a shower block within the confines of the ranger station. Food is prepared by the community members. The tour begins in Banlung and a one-hour motorbike ride to Veun Sai, on the banks of the Sean River. Once across the river, access to the ranger station is either by motorbike or an hour-long bicycle ride, and the trekking to see the gibbons will be first thing the following morning, with a 4am wake-up call.

As the gibbons are in the wild, the community, who have been supported in establishing this program by Conservation International, indicate visitors have an 80% chance of seeing the gibbons, though when Hanuman’s Andy Brouwer visited the site, he not only saw and heard them, he followed them through the jungle for an hour. This is a unique way to experience gibbons in the wild and the memory of the their piercing jungle call is unforgettable. The project is constantly evolving and additional viewing may include red-shanked douc langurs in the future. For now, the focus is firmly on the rare northern yellow-cheeked gibbons, and an experience and interaction that takes you up close and personal with a family of habituated gibbons in their natural environment. For more details, contact the Hanuman team.

Adrenaline Angkor

Monday, February 24th, 2014

Seeking some excitement and adventure on your trip to Siem Reap and the wonderful temples of Angkor, then look no further than our 4-day Adrenaline Angkor program.

Quad-biking is a fun activity in Siem Reap

Quad-biking is a fun activity in Siem Reap

We begin Day 1 with a cycle ride to the Roluos Group of temples some fifteen kilometres east of Siem Reap and onto the floating village of Kompong Pluk, which we discover by boat. In the evening the fantastic modern circus of Phare! awaits us. A hike to see the riverbed carvings of Kbal Spean begins the next morning, followed by the petite and perfectly-formed temple of Banteay Srei and the educational Landmine Museum. We end the day with a sunset visit into rural Cambodia on quad-bikes. For Day 3, it’s an early start to catch Ta Prohm at its solitary best and then into the treetops surrounding Angkor to experience the adrenaline rush of the ziplines of the safety-focused Flight of the Gibbon. In the afternoon we get into the saddle for a four-legged tour of the countryside. Our final day will concentrate on the best of the temples of Angkor, an early-morning visit to Angkor Wat and a walk or cycle tour of the ancient city of Angkor Thom, with a hot-air balloon or helicopter flight sandwiched in between. Contact us at Hanuman for more details.

Fun for all the Family at Angkor

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

Hanuman’s exciting Family Angkor Tour includes temples and lots of fun activities.

Flying through the trees with Flight of the Gibbon

Flying through the trees with Flight of the Gibbon

With more families travelling together than ever before, the temples of Angkor are a fascinating attraction for young and old and we have combined these amazing structures with a series of activities that we believe will wow all of the family, in our new 5-day/4-night Family Angkor program. Arrival day will be rounded off with a dinner and classical and folk dance performance. Our first sight of Angkor will be on the back of an elephant in Angkor Thom and onto the giant faces of the Bayon. If it’s activities you seek, Jungle Junction in town is the perfect place after lunch for families and children up to ten years old, or stay at your hotel for a relaxing swim. Mini-golf at Angkor Wat Putt is the next day’s morning activity, followed by a visit to the actual majestic temple itself after lunch – the largest religious monument in the world. An early wake-up to visit the atmospheric jungle temple of Ta Prohm will get you in the mood for an exhilarating experience on the ziplines of Flight of the Gibbon, through the treetops of Angkor. The excitement continues with an evening visit to the acrobats, jugglers and modern circus antics at Phare. For our final day, it’s off to the Great Lake for a glimpse of how the locals live their lives on the water followed by a visit to wood and stone carving workshops to see how the traditions of the country are being kept alive. That brings the curtain down on your Angkor adventures, with priceless memories stored in your memory banks and on your iPhones.  To get a feel for the ziplines of Flight of the Gibbon (pictured above), watch this Lonely Planet video of this fantastic adventurous activity at Angkor; http://youtu.be/UJzEtKoITrg. Contact us at Hanuman for more details.

Prasat Thom Re-Opens

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

Good news for travellers to the 10th Century Angkorian capital of Koh Ker, 130kms northeast of Siem Reap.

The Mayan-like Prasat Thom at the Koh Ker complex

The Mayan-like Prasat Thom at the Koh Ker complex

After falling stones made the staircase unsafe a few years ago, the wonderful views from the top of the 40 metre-high sandstone seven-tier pyramid of Prasat Thom have been out of bounds. However, news has just reached us that a brand new wooden staircase has been erected and fifteen visitors at one time, are being allowed to climb the steep stairs to the top. The views over the surrounding forest and west to Phnom Kulen are fabulous and if you don’t mind heights, it’s definitely worth the climb to the top. There is a wooden platform at the  postage-stamp sized summit for extra safety. The pyramid is almost Mayan in appearance and is an amazing feat of engineering from when the Koh Ker complex was being constructed by King Jayavarman IV from 928. The Koh Ker period is known for its impressively large sculptures and some of the biggest Shiva lingas in the country, and just over two hours drive from the main Angkor Park.

The top photograph of Prasat Thom was taken in 2001. The one below was snapped much more recently, in February 2012.

The Prasat Thom pyramid in 2012

The Prasat Thom pyramid in 2012

Behind the scenes at Phnom Tamao

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

 

In the latest video from Hanuman Travel TV, we take a behind the scenes tour to Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center near Phnom Penh, home to more than 1200 animals, including tigers, elephants, bears and much, much more. All profits from this Wildlife Alliance-run tour go towards wildlife conservation work. For a more comprehensive tour of Phnom Penh or the Kingdom of Cambodia, contact the Hanuman Sales team on sales@hanumantourism.com or visit the website at www.hanuman.travel.

Hanuman Films produced this wildlife experience video to support the work of Wildlife Alliance with whom Hanuman enjoys a close working relationship. Hanuman offers a Wild Cambodia itinerary that includes this behind-the-scenes experience at Phnom Tamao, as well as Elephant Valley Project in Mondulkiri, dolphin-spotting in the Mekong River and the Prek Toal Bird Sanctuary.

To book this trip directly with Wildlife Alliance, email wildlifetoursPT@wildlifealliance.org or visit the website at www.wildlifealliance.org.

The Best of Cambodia’s Islands

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

The spotlight is well and truly illuminating the islands sitting off Cambodia’s coast. First we brought you the Hanuman run down on Koh Rong and the rest, and now Rough Guides have jumped on board with their best of Cambodia’s islands.

A view of Koh Rong taken last week by Hanuman's Nick Ray

A view of Koh Rong by Hanuman’s Nick Ray

No less than sixty Cambodian islands dot the azure Gulf of Thailand. Easily accessible from Sihanoukville, Kep and Koh Kong, a growing number house rustic bungalows for overnight stays. They may not have roads, cashpoints or mains electricity, but this is a small price to pay for squeaky-white beaches, warm translucent seas and an escapist, easy-going vibe. Controversially, a number of these islands have been leased to developers, mooted for super luxury resorts, so it’s anyone’s guess as to how long this rustic tranquility will remain. Time is of the essence if you wish to see them in their humblest form. Article by Emma Boyle – Rough Guide to Cambodia:

Best for escapism: Koh Totang

Koh Totang, a tiny dolphin-shaped island in the Koh S’Dach archipelago, is an escapist’s fantasy. Just seven people, plus a handful of roosters and dogs, live permanently on this wooded 650,000 square metre isle along with the owners and guests of the Crusoe-esque Nomads Land, an idyllic, five-bungalow retreat set on its sand-swept eastern shores. If what you’re looking for is complete tranquility, a chance to channel your inner yogi, time for beach-combing on deserted sands or a perch to explore neighbouring islands, few can beat this little gem.

Best for volunteering: Koh S’Dach

With over 2000 inhabitants, this small island houses the largest community across the Koh S’Dach archipelago. Fishing is king here and the authentic, yet surprisingly prosperous village is unaffected by tourism. Shallow Waters, a British marine NGO, has a base on the island and encourages wannabe marine conservationists to volunteer their services surveying coral reefs, collecting data and getting involved in community projects. You stay in over-water dorms, and non-divers learn the ropes on arrival (the organisation is an accredited by PADI).

Best for beachcombing: Koh Rong

The paradisiacal snow-white beaches (all 43 kilometres of them), aqua-hued ocean and twilight phosphorescence make this a favourite island for many. Its southeastern shores are the go-to place for young party-loving backpackers, however with 78 square kilometres to explore – most of which is undeveloped – it’s easy to find your own patch of paradise (we love Long Set Beach’s striking alabaster shores). The verdant interior is also ripe for trekking; Gil at Paradise Resort is always discovering new species on his guided nature walks.

Best for full moon parties: Koh Rong Samloem

Although Samloem has long been Koh Rong’s quieter sister island, and is – for the most part ­– laid back, sunrise-facing Saracen Bay’s full moon parties are fast putting the island on the backpacker map. Party boats leave Sihanoukville pier at 5.30pm on the day (shuttles operate from Koh Rong) for the all-night beach rave. The next day, nurse your hangover in one of the many bungalows scattered between the island’s striking, deserted beaches, including the idyllic Lazy Beach resort, and newcomer Huba Huba on Samloem’s only sunset-facing shore.

Best for camping: Koh Ta Kiev

With a journey time of less than an hour from the mainland, Koh Ta Kiev is one of Cambodia’s most easily accessible islands. Given that you can turn up at Crusoe Island, a rustic campground, and pitch your own tent or hammock on the beach for just a few dollars (or have someone else do all the hard work for you), it’s mighty popular, but don’t let this put you off. The jungly island is large and for those looking for more than a mahogany skin tone, activities range from jungle trekking and snorkelling to Khmer cooking and spear fishing classes.

Best for bird-watching: Koh Thmei

Located within Ream National Park, this serene mangrove-ringed island is home to just one very low-key eco-conscious venture, the Koh Thmei Resort, set on the island’s northwest beach. It’s a useful place to base yourself if you’re interested in sighting some of the island’s 155 bird species, including the endangered Brahminy kite. Alternatively, there are shell-sprayed beaches to stroll, a coral reef to snorkel, and nearby, the uninhabited Koh Ses Island, within a kayak’s reach.

Best for day trips: Rabbit Island

A popular day trip from sleepy Kep is to Koh Tonsay or Rabbit Island, a 30-minute longtail ride from the mainland. Home to three pale sand beaches framed by spidery coconut palms, the impetus is on beachcombing, jungle trekking and snorkelling or simply feasting on fresh crab cooked up at the local restaurants. The same also have simple timber huts if you’re tempted to stay the night.

Best for diving: Koh Tang & Koh Prins

Situated between five to eight hours from shore, these two islands – accessible on overnight or multi-day liveaboard diving expeditions from the mainland – boast the clearest and deepest waters for diving in Cambodia. Divers come here to get up close and personal with the stunning variety of corals, the rocky reefs and wrecks, where you might encounter octopus, barracuda and batfish.

Laos’ Top Five Destinations

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

From a quiet backwater to today’s incarnation, Laos is one of the most beguiling destinations in all of Asia.

1. Luang Prabang

Languid and lovely Luang Prabang is one of the most alluring places in Southeast Asia. Nowhere else can lay claim to the city’s old-world romance of 33 gilded wats, saffron-clad monks, faded Indochinese villas and exquisite Gallic cuisine. It’s a unique place where time seems to stand still amid the breakneck pace of the surrounding region. This UNESCO-protected gem has rightfully gained mythical status as a travellers’ Shangri La, and since its airport opened a decade ago the town has seen a flood of investment, with once-leprous French villas being revived as fabulous – though affordable – boutique hotels.

2. Si Phan Don

Si Phan Don is where Laos becomes the land of the lotus eaters, an archipelago of islands where the pendulum of time swings more slowly and life is more laid-back – yes, even by Laos standards. The name literally means ‘Four Thousand Islands’, and they are so tranquil that you can imagine them just drifting downriver into Cambodia with barely anyone blinking an eyelid. Many a traveller has washed ashore here, succumbed to its charms and stayed longer than expected.

3. The Gibbon Experience

Adrenalin meets conservation in this ecofriendly adventure in the 106,000 hectares of the Bokeo Nature Reserve wilderness. The Gibbon Experienceis essentially a series of navigable ‘ziplines’ criss-crossing the canopy of some of Laos’ most pristine forest, home to tigers, clouded leopards, black bears and the black-crested gibbon. Seven years ago poaching was threatening the existence of the black-crested gibbon, but thanks to Animo, a conservation-based tour group, the hunters of Bokeo were convinced to become the forest’s guardians. The benchmark for sustainable monkey business, this three-day experience is one of Laos’ most unforgettable adventures.

4. Vang Vieng

Like a rural scene from an Oriental silk painting, Vang Vieng crouches low over the Nam Song (Song River) with a backdrop of serene cliffs and a tapestry of vivid green paddy fields. Thanks to the iron fist of the Lao government finally making its presence felt in 2012 (when the river rave bars were finally closed down), the increasingly toxic party scene has been banished and the community is recalibrating itself as an outdoor paradise home with some achingly lovely boutique hotels and a raft of adrenalin-inducing and nature-based activities.

5. River Trips

Until the 1990s, riverboats were an essential form of inter-city passenger transport in Laos. Today villagers in roadless hamlets still travel by river, while several longer distance water routes remain possible thanks in significant part to tourist interest. River trips also offer a wonderful way to discover the bucolic scenery as well as a practical alternative to tortuous bus rides. In each case the journey is an attraction in itself.

This is an edited extract from Lonely Planet Laos (8th Edition) by Nick Ray, et al. © Lonely Planet 2014.  Published this month.

Hi-Yo, Silver! Away!

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

Horse riding in the kingdom of Cambodia is starting to take off, with classes available and opportunities to test yourself on a trusty stead or a pony, popping up in Siem Reap, Phnom Penh and on the south coast.

Horse riding with Happy Ranch

Horse riding with Happy Ranch

The best known of the horse riding schools is Happy Ranch, which offers the chance to explore Siem Reap on horseback, taking in surrounding villages and secluded temples. This is a calm way to experience the countryside, far from the traffic and crowds elsewhere. Popular rides, with experienced horse riding guides, take in Wat Athvea, a modern pagoda with an ancient temple on its grounds, and Wat Chedi, a temple set on a flood plain near the Tonle Sap Lake. Riding lessons are also available for children and beginners.

In the capital Phnom Penh, the Cambodian Country Club, just on the outskirts of the city, offers lessons with larger horses and ponies for children. For those that prefer their horse riding under strictly controlled conditions, the carousel horses at the funfair opposite NagaWorld are worth considering.

Down on the south coast, the Ranch de la Plantation has opened up in Kep, with more than ten horses, which can take visitors on scenic rides around Kep, or more experienced riders to the pepper plantations and mountains of Phnom Voar. In Sihanoukville, Liberty Ranch offers horseback riding along the beach at Otres or in the nearby countryside, as well as lessons for beginners and youngsters.

Certainly an activity worth considering when you are in Cambodia and you are looking either at trying something new or getting back in the saddle whilst on holiday.