Hanuman has received widespread praise in the international press, as an innovative and original operator offering something very different from the competition. Here is a selection of press cuttings that have appeared in the media in recent years.
Pucker Lips Now
Lusso Luxury Lifestyle Magazine, 2011
"There are no other visitors at the temple of Banteay Chhmar. Just us. It attracts 100 tourists monthly, but once the new road is built, 10,000 are expected. We stand alone amid the almost untouched antiquity or the architectural masterpiece commissioned by King Jayavarman VII in 1191. For 800 years, until 1956, its towers and temples lay hidden in undergrowth, harmed only by nature. And then looting began in the 1990s.
We clamber amid a jumble of fallen sandstoneblocks. Think arches, walls, temple ruins, nearly everything lopsided and toppling. Light filtering through the dense jungle foliage, we discover magnificent carvings. Here, a bas-relief of naval warfare, with some dead sailors being gobbled by crocodiles; there, scenes of warfare with infantry and elephants; and over there, carvings of the Bodhisatva Lokesvara with 32 arms.
Now we go glamping (glamorous camping) by the temple. We have a butler in a white jacket, cook, driver, tour guide and endless factotums. I could get used to this. I take a shower, the hot water from an African-style bush bag. Then Jeeves serves a great Khmer dinner on a wooden table with a silk cloth. Blissfully, our staff have also dotted candles over the nearby temple and lit a fire. Fireflies flit through the air. And we dine to the 'music' of cicadas. When we go to bed, it's a tent with a double bed, fan and bedside tables."
Postcard from a tented, temple safari in Cambodia
Globalista Website, May 2011
: 156 km northwest of Siem Riep and the middle of nowhere
Why stay here: Modelled on luxury African safaris, this is glamorous camping. Our tents were set up in the shadows of the Banteay Chhmar temple ruins. There were no other visitors, just our butler, cook, driver, tour guide and other staff. The tent was high enough to stand up in, waterproof with serious anti-mozzie netting and a veranda. Inside it boasts a wooden-based double bed with mattress and cotton sheets. There are even wooden bedside tables, electric bedside lights and a fan (powered by a portable generator). Think Colonialism Revisited. There's a private (flush) loo tent and a separate shower one (with hot water – from bush-style bags – and toiletries).
Don't miss: Our guide Bunthinh (‘call me Ting’) was excellent, like all Hanuman Tourism guides. First we stopped at the temple of Banteay Top which is overgrown and partially rebuilt. We were there with just two Buddhist monks. Nearby are paddy fields and water buffalo by lily ponds. A perfect picture. Next we visited the isolated jungle temple (and archaeological site) of Banteay Chhmar. This is antiquity in the raw. (They're applying for UNESCO recognition.) Built around 1191 AD, it was discovered in 1900 and buried until 1956. There are magnificent carvings of Lokesvara with 32 arms and Jayavarman VII face temples. Light filters through the dense jungle foliage, there’s noise of nearby chanting monks and crickets and huge butterflies. Magical.
Must eat: Spring rolls, chicken and cashew, stir fry and banana fritters; all served by our Khmer Jeeves, on a wooden table with a silk cloth, flowers and teak chairs. This is the ultimate table with a view. It overlooks the temple - over which, delightfully, they dotted candles - and the nearby lake, in which they've put floating candles. And beside a tree through which they managed to string electric bulbs, like fairy lights.
What would you do with a month?
The Sunday Times, 24 October 2010
It’s the holy grail of holidays: four straight weeks off work, enough for a life-changing journey. But what could you do with the time? Our team of writers map out their dream trips
"For a lifetime trip it has to be a down-and-dirty blast through Cambodia, the steamiest, seamiest madhouse of a country I’ve every dipped a toe into. This time I want a full week in Angkor - it’s like the Taj Mahal, Mount Rushmore and the Terracotta Warriors squidged into one mammoth rainforest clearing: far too stupefying to be rushed.
Next I’ll find the right guide (ideally Nick Ray, Cambodia’s original tomb raider) and take off on a five-day jeep safari to unearth some lost temples of my own. Places like Koh Ker where you can scramble up a 120ft pyramid and become sole overlord of a thousand-year old citadel almost as big as Angkor. That still leaves time for remote, red earth Ratanakiri, where wild-eyed returning travellers whisper of bull-worshipping rituals and pipe-smoking toddlers.
And finally a week among the crocs and tigers of the Cardamom Mountains, ecotourism’s newest wild frontier. I plan to swim in waterfalls and hang my hammock in the fizz of the jungle and then hunker down at the 4 Rivers Floating Ecolodge for a sybaritic last few days.
The Travel World's Top Fixers
The Sunday Times, 31 May 2009
It’s not where you go, it’s who you know when you get there. Our team reveal their top fixers
Cambodia - Hanuman
"Kulikar Sotho’s first job in travel was organising passage for 7,500 UN peacekeepers. Then the Khmer Rouge collapsed, ancient Angkor was rediscovered by the west, and Kulikar’s company, Hanuman, was on hand to act as midwife to Cambodian tourism. A decade or so later, more than a million visitors pitch up each year — including Korean coach parties wielding megaphones. Not to worry: Hanuman’s impeccable guides know how to dodge the crowds. For example, they spirited me to Angkor Wat’s eastern gate, the “back door”, for an exclusive, all-to-myself view of Asia’s most humdinging archeological site.
Hanuman also fixed it for me to spend a few days in the remote, red-earthed Ratanakiri region, where I penetrated sacrificial rituals, shook hands with pipe-smoking toddlers, and found out exactly why you should never sup rice wine with the villagers.
Best of all was my “temple safari” in the steaming, spidery Cambodian jungle — the brainchild of Kulikar’s husband, Nick Ray, who is also Lonely Planet’s writer in Cambodia and a self-styled temple-hunter. As the location scout for Tomb Raider, Ray unearthed virgin Angkorian citadels such as Ko Ker, where I scrambled up a rickety ladder to the top of a 120ft pyramid and found myself sole overlord of a 10th-century city, scores of its monuments still smothered in the undergrowth."
Tomb raiding, fried tarantula and sunrise over the world's greatest wonders in Cambodia
The Daily Mail, 4 April 2009
“We were spending the night in what our tour company called a 'luxury safari camp', with the promise of a 'traditional local dinner'. My immediate thought was of a tarantula starter, followed by civet cat, gently roasted after being shot out of a tree by a member of the kitchen staff armed with a catapult. The orange canvas tents of the camp were set up almost against the walls of an ancient temple, in a forest clearing. As darkness fell, oil-rag torches lit up the pathways to the dining area. A substantial table with matching chairs, crisp tablecloth and napkins had been set up for the traditional local meal. It also came with a printed, gold-embossed menu and waiters in uniform. Soon a long glass of gin and tonic was coursing into my pot hole-battered limbs, followed by a substantial goblet of Chardonnay. Boy, the locals around here really live well, I thought. The dinner itself was a menu that might have come from the kitchens of a Raffles hotel.”
Cambodia at Peace
The Times, 28 April 2007
After a 12-year gap, Travel Editor Cath Urqhart returns to Cambodia to find a country at peace with itself.
“We loaded up the Jeep with tents, food and campbeds and we headed north to Koh Ker and Beng Mealea for a “temple safari”. Both temples are spectacular, in different ways. Beng Mealea, thought to date from the 12th century, is dangerously dilapidated, and we rock-hopped across chunks of collapsed walls, finding carved apsaras (dancing girls) under the jungle thicket. Koh Ker, where we camped, was quite different: an enormous, and well preserved, seven-tiered pyramid, with a precarious steel ladder to the top, at 35m, offering views of the jungle canopy. The only other tourists were a party of Cambodian nuns on a day trip.”
A Temple All to Ourselves
The Daily Telegraph, 28 April 2007
Tired of the crowds of Angkor Wat, Francisca Kellett follows in the footsteps of Indiana Jones to explore the little-known ruins of Cambodia – and finds them well worth a bone-crunching drive or two.
“We escaped Siem Reap on what they call a temple safari, a promise of a three-day adventure into the wild north-west. Here, we would take in some of the least-visited ruins in the country and camp out, alone, in their shadows... We camped just outside the walls of Koh Ker, three centuries older than Beng Mealea and once capital of the Angkor empire. A hundred temples are hidden in the silvery-grey forest, from dark stone structures sheltering giant stone phalluses to large red-brick temples smothered by strangler figs.”
Camping it up in Cambodia
The Sunday Times, 02 July 2006
A new tented jungle tour sidesteps Angkor to find the real riches of Cambodia: just mind those arachnids, says Vincent Crump
“Angkor must be seen, certainly — but if you wonder what the 1,000-year-old civilisation of the Khmers looked like before it got “discovered” by French colonists and tarted up for the megaphone masses, you need to strike out beyond Siem Reap into Cambodia’s steaming, spidery highlands. Here lie the outposts of Khmer empire: Sambor Prei Kuk, a religious complex even older than Angkor; Koh Ker, jungle stronghold of the usurper king Jayavarman IV; and especially Preah Vihear, a cathedral-sized monastery chipped into the top of a 2,000ft crag. A new “temple safari” promises to take travellers with intrepid urges to find them — and that’s what I’ve signed up for: just me and my tent (and my driver, my tour guide, my cook and my factotum).”
“This is Indiana Jones made real: along shadowy corridors, into flooded vaults, never sure whether you’ll find Buddhas or bats. We finally emerge onto a craggy balcony 2,000ft above the jungle, where kings once came to greet their gods. Sunset seeps across the plain; the roar of the cicadas is lion-loud. It’s quite incredible. It’s the most astounding camp site I’ve been to… I feel privileged to be here and very well looked after.”
"Do get the inside track: Hanuman Tourism—with their brilliant on-the-ground knowledge—are the people to see for travel within the country."
In the Long Tail, the Most Powerful Tool of Distribution is Inspiration
Web in Travel, 17 June 2010
When you are operating in the long tail and run a product like “Temple Safari”, the most powerful tool of distribution is inspiration. That, and connections. Said Nick Ray of Hanuman Tourism, Cambodia, “If you can inspire travel companies and travel journalists to believe in your ideas, then the product will take off.” As such, his company which believes in “travel with a personal touch” has been cultivating contacts and connections that can help them spread the word. Said Ray, “Hanuman has been very fortunate in this respect. We partner a number of market leaders in the UK, US and France and their growth has helped fuel our growth over the years.”
“We also have a very good relationship with journalists and travel writers in general as we are used to VIP hosting through our work with Hanuman Films.”
One of its most recent guests was cantankerous celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay. According to the Hanuman blog, executive director Kulikar Sotho, whose family is behind Hanuman Tourism, was the Cambodian Fixer for Ramsey’s television series, ‘Gordon’s Great Escapes’ – in which he travels all over the world learning about and cooking local cuisines.
Other celebrities it’s hosted include Angelina Jolie, Daniel Craig and Jeremy Clarkson “so we get the word out through our partner travel agents and international journalists who are inspired by the original concepts we are promoting”, said Ray.
In its Temple Safaris, it takes visitors out to the jungle temples of Northern Cambodia where luxury tents are pitched close to ancient cultural sites and guests can enjoy the quiet of the wilderness away from mass tourism. The product is the company’s signature trip was conceived on a trip to Uganda and Rwanda by Kulikar. Said Ray, “The main difference is in the attractions. In Africa, the experience is all about wildlife and getting up close and personal with lions, leopards, elephants and more. “In the case of Temple Safaris, it is about remote temples that were traditionally difficult to access although this has evolved to include beaches and wetland areas in the Mekong. It is possible we could apply the African model to an area where wildlife is prevalent.”
Indeed, Ray believes these safaris could work elsewhere in Asia. “The beauty and simplicity of the concept is that it can work anywhere. Natural sites, cultural sites, wilderness sites – essentially anywhere that lacks infrastructure. It could be wildlife, it might be a dramatic viewpoint or a private beach. The opportunities are limited only by your imagination.”
Matters of the Heart
Times Online, 13th February 2010
Temple of Love
"Confirm your love amid the mysterious temples of Angkor Wat in Cambodia. The Cambodian-based Hanuman Tourism can organise exclusive access and a marriage ceremony plus a honeymoon package that includes an overnight temple safari, a trip to Phnom Penh and some downtime at the beach."