Posts Tagged ‘Adventure’

Walking with the herd

Saturday, September 20th, 2014

Original elephant adventures with Cambodia’s EVP.

Gee Nowl, one of the EVP elephants

Gee Nowl, one of the EVP elephants

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.

River rafting through Angkor

Friday, September 19th, 2014

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.

Ta Prohm’s trees

Monday, September 1st, 2014

Some trees at the Tomb Raider Temple of Ta Prohm at Angkor will soon disappear.

Tomb Raider Temple of Ta Prohm

Tomb Raider Temple of Ta Prohm

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.

The Koki Cruise

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

Hanuman join the Koki Cruise in Phnom Penh.

The Koki Cruise

The Koki Cruise

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.

Prek Toal floating village

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

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.

Afloat at Kompong Luong

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

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.

The Wild KK Project: A Walk on the Wild Side

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

The remote Cardamom Mountains in Cambodia have long been considered the final frontier in ecotourism and the Wild KK Project goes deep into the heart of the beautiful Areng Valley.

Monks in the Areng Valley, Cambodia

Monks in the Areng Valley, Cambodia

Started as part of a grassroots community-based initiative to save the Areng Valley from a planned dam, the Wild KK Project (www.wildkkproject.com) offers unique ecological tours in the Areng area. Trips can be individually tailored to include walking, kayaking, and mountain biking through lush forests, countryside villages and meandering rivers. The Areng Valley boasts incredible scenery, some shy wildlife, and a traditional village culture, adding up to a great place to get off-the-beaten-track.

Groups are small, tours take at least five days and the cost is all-inclusive. The Wild KK Project is linked to the Mother Nature (www.mothernature.pm) environmental pressure group.

No 1 Best-Selling Guide to Cambodia

Monday, August 18th, 2014

The latest Lonely Planet guide to Cambodia has just been published. Read on.

Fish amok - Cambodia's national dish

Fish amok – Cambodia’s national dish

Despite having the eighth wonder of the world in its backyard, Cambodia’s real treasure is its people, says the introduction to the brand new Lonely Planet guide to Cambodia, that hit bookshops this month. Hanuman agrees. Siem Reap and Phnom Penh may be the heavyweights, but to some extent they are a bubble, a world away from the Cambodia of the countryside, it continues. Well you can see for yourself by getting a copy, whether its the print edition or online. There are 370 pages of great tips, maps, photos and recommendations that will enhance your visit to Cambodia and here is LP’s Top 10 of what you must not miss:

1 – Siem Reap & Temples of Angkor. 2 – Phnom Penh. 3 – Sihanoukville. 4 – Battambang. 5 – Kampot & Kep. 6 – Mondulkiri. 7 – Ratanakiri. 8 – Kratie. 9 – Prasat Preah Vihear. 10 – Khmer Cuisine.

It’s obvious why Siem Reap and the Angkor Temples made it to the top spot. LP confirms why:  One of the world’s most magnificent sights, the temples of Angkor are so much better than the superlatives. Choose from Angkor Wat, the world’s largest religious building: Bayon, one of the world’s weirdest, with its immense stone faces: or Ta Prohm, where nature runs amok. Buzzing Siem Reap, with a superb selection of restaurants and bars, is the base for temple exploration. Beyond lie floating villages on the Tonle Sap lake, adrenalin-fuelled activities like quad biking and ziplining, and such cultured pursuits as cooking classes and birdwatching.

Khmer cuisine made it into the Top 10 so its worth hearing why LP included it: Everyone has tried Thai and Vietnamese specialities before they hit the region, but Khmer cuisine remains under the culinary radar. Amok (baked fish with lemongrass, chilli and coconut) is the national dish, but sumptuous seafood and fresh-fish dishes are plentiful, including Kep crab infused with Kampot pepper. It wouldn’t be Asia without street snacks and Cambodia delivers everything from noodles (mee) and congee (bobor; rice porridge) to deep-fried tarantulas and roasted crickets. With subtle spices and delicate herbs , Cambodian food is an unexpected epicurean experience.

On dry land and the waterways

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

Phnom Penh’s first capsule hotel opens. And take the opportunity to enjoy the Mekong waterways in style.

A deluxe room at the Tama Hotel

A deluxe room at the Tama Hotel

The Tama Hotel is perched on the 22nd floor of the Phnom Penh tower, an addition to the already existing chic D22 Restaurant, which serves French-Italian cuisine. The hotel – also known as H22 – is Phnom Penh’s first ever capsule hotel. Hotel guests can squeeze themselves into narrow bunks, which are right next to the glass windows of the tower, to enjoy a stunning aerial view of the city. For those visitors requiring a bit more space, larger deluxe and superior rooms are available. 26 rooms in total. Definitely a room with a view.

Down on the South Coast, the desirability of Kep is showing no signs of slowing down with roads in and out of the resort dramatically improved in recent months. Another new face on the accommodation front in town is a new private beach hotel, Samanea, which is spread over two hectares of natural landscape with 10 spacious and elegant villas, a sea-front infinity pool, al fresco restaurant and spa. Well worth checking out.

Cruising the waterways of Cambodia and Vietnam, is becoming increasingly popular for many visitors. With that in mind, Haimark are keen to expand their operations along the Mekong River and will introduce the 68-guest Mekong Navigator in September, a few days after they launch the 56-passenger Irrawaddy Explorer in Myanmar. In twelve months time, they will also set sail with a 24-guest, all-suite, “spa concept” ship named Mekong Princess. The company says it will have “the most extensive spa menu of any ship on the Mekong River” with several types of massages, facials, scrubs, and body wraps. Each guest will receive one free hour-long spa treatment during the cruise to begin the week-long rejuvenation.

Also gearing up for a luxury river-cruise launch is the Aqua Mekong in September. They will be offering a truly personalized, enriching and unique life-on-the-river experience, on board a five-star floating boutique hotel. Their itineraries have been customized to allow guests to get up close to life on the river and experience first-hand the colorful and varied cultures, religions and timeless traditions. After the excursions each day, guests are able to return to an elegant river facing suite on their floating sanctuary, and enjoy the comforts of the ship, like the plunge pool, indoor and outdoor bar, observation deck and gym, private screening room, games room, library, and last but not least, the spa. The cuisine will be taken care of by Chef David Thompson who has just been named a top ranked chef in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards.

Myanmar is THE place to go

Saturday, August 2nd, 2014

The Lonely Planet guide to Myanmar is hot off the press. It’s definitely worth reading especially as previously off-limits areas are opening up and the crowds are heading to Myanmar in ever-increasing numbers.

Shwedagon Paya, Myanmar

Shwedagon Paya, Myanmar

The brand new Lonely Planet guide to Myanmar, 425 pages of hotel and eating suggestions, maps, photographs and recommendations that will help you to plan your perfect visit from your armchair at home. Their Myanmar Top 10 is a listing of what you must include in your itinerary, and here it is:

1 – Shwedagon Paya. 2- Inle Lake. 3- Bagan. 4 – Mrauk U. 5 – Kalaw. 6 – Pyin Oo Lwin. 7 – Mt Kyaiktiyo (Golden Rock). 8 – Mawlamyine. 9 – Hsipaw. 10 – Myeil Arcgipelago.

So why did the Shwedagon Paya come in at number 1? Is there a more stunning monument to religion in Southeast Asia? We don’t think so – says LP. In fact, the sheer size and mystical aura of Yangon’s guilded masterpiece may even cause you to question your inner atheist. But it’s not all about quiet contemplation: Shwedagon Paya is equal parts religious pilgrimage and amusement park, and your visit may coincide with a noisy ordination ceremony or fantastic fortune-telling session. If you’re looking for one reason to linger in Yangon before heading upcountry, this is it. Make sure Myanmar is on your radar.