Cambodia & Malaysia 2016
Monday 7th March – Sunday 20th March 2016
Extension to Malaysia 20th - 25th March 2016
Situated between Thailand and Vietnam, Cambodia has only relatively recently opened up its borders after a long period of isolation to reveal its hidden treasures and some of the most unexpected avian delights in Asia. The most highly prized of these are the amazing and near-mythical Giant Ibis and the exceedingly rare White-shouldered Ibis. Both species are classified as critically endangered by Birdlife International with very restricted ranges and exceedingly small breeding populations. Our tour begins amidst the splendid Angkor Wat Temple which is undoubtedly one of the most awe-inspiring cultural sites in the world, as well as providing a good introduction to the local avifauna. We have 3 nights at Siem Reap in order to explore the temples, as well as visit the core reserve of Prek Toale on the Tonle Sap Great Lake for the multitude of waterbirds which include the much-wanted Milky Stork and Greater Adjutant. Then we drive to a secluded area in the north of the country at Tmatboey, visiting a very good site for Bengal Florican and Manchurian Reed Warbler along the way. From our eco-lodge we’ll look for Great and White-shouldered Ibis in the dwindling forest pools, along with White-rumped Falcon, Spotted Wood-owl, Black-headed and Great Slaty Woodpeckers and Burmese Shrike amongst others. From here we will travel closer to the Laos border and an even more remote area for White-winged Wood-Duck and some truly shy birds such as Green Peafowl and Bar-bellied Pitta. Then we take a boat ride along the Mekong River for the recently discovered Mekong Wagtail and we should also see Irrawaddy Dolphin. Our tour in this wonderful country ends amidst the montane forests of Bokor National Park in search of Chestnut-headed Partridge and a veritable feast of other great birds to be found in this lush primary forest. An optional extension takes us to the cool hill station of Fraser's Hill in Peninsular Malaysia for a different selection of species and is a fitting way to end another exciting ZOOTHERA tour.
The tour is run in collaboration with the Sam Veasna Centre who work closely with the Wildlife Conservation Society and local communities to promote wildlife conservation in Cambodia. Their main objective is to provide an alternative sustainable livelihood from ecotourism for the local communities at the birding sites which have resulted in a stop in hunting and land use, as well as a programme of environmental education at local schools. Part of the proceeds from this tour is donated for conservation projects.
Days 1 - 2 UK - Siem Reap - 7th to 8th March
Overnight flight from UK to Siem Reap via Kuala Lumpur. Upon arrival we will transfer to a nearby hotel for the night.
Day 3 Siem Reap - Angkor Wat Temples
We will begin our exploration of this fascinating country with a visit to Angkor Great Park, site of the famous Angkor Wat Temple. In fact, over 200 temples can be seen here and their distinctive architecture ranks as one of the modern day wonders of the world. Apsara the Cambodian ministry responsible for the management and conservation of the temples has preserved at least some of the mature dry forest and in places allowed undergrowth to grow, which offers habitat for a variety of species including Black Baza, Asian Barred Owlet, Coppersmith Barbet, raucous Red-breasted and Alexandrine Parakeets, Asian Paradise-flycatcher, Hainan Blue, Taiga and Asian Brown Flycatchers, Streak-eared Bulbul, White-throated and Blue Rock-thrushes, Forest Wagtail, Olive-backed Pipit, Dusky Warbler, Greater Racquet-tailed Drongo, Ashy Minivet, Yellow-browed and Pale-legged Leaf-warblers, White-crested Laughingthrush and White-vented Myna. We will stay here to watch a magical sunset and maybe Brown Hawk-owl before visiting an excellent local restaurant for dinner. Night Siem Reap.
Day 4 Prek Toal – Tonle Sap Great Lake
We will have an early start to visit the Core Bird Reserve of Prek Toal on the Tonle Sap Great Lake close to Prek Toal floating village, where we should get superb views of Greater Adjutant and the large water bird colonies. The Tonle Sap is the largest natural lake in South East Asia, fed by the phenomenal annual backflow of water from the Mekong River. Situated in the north-west corner of the lake, Prek Toal core bird reserve is home to the largest breeding colonies of water birds in South-east Asia. The reserve covers 22,000 hectares of seasonally flooded forest where only the tallest trees stand proud of the lake during the annual flood, providing a habitat for cormorants, pelicans, storks, and many other birds to roost and nest. The village of Prek Toal, adjacent to the reserve floats at the river mouth of the Sangke River where it flows into the lake. Every house is built on a platform of bamboo and moves according to the water level throughout the year. Schools, local restaurants, a church, even vegetable patches, pig-pens and crocodile farms all float. In Cambodia and throughout south-east Asia, this site is unmatched for the number and population of endangered water birds it supports during the dry season. Large numbers of cormorants, storks and pelicans are virtually guaranteed from January to May along with herons, egrets and terns. The sanctuary harbours seven species of global conservation significance: Spot-billed Pelican, Milky and Painted Storks, Lesser Adjutant, Greater Adjutant, Black-headed Ibis and Oriental Darter, and has a globally significant population of Grey-headed Fish-eagle. Since the Core Reserve was declared in 2002 and came under the protection of the Ministry of Environment as advised by the Wildlife Conservation Society, the numbers of all the above species have increased.
We will travel by boat to Prek Toal and depending on water levels the boat journey cuts through the flooded scrub surrounding Chong Khneas and a small band of primary forest lining the lake where the boat moors for breakfast. Upon arrival we will transfer to a local boat/pirogue, which is part of an initiative to help spread income from eco-tourism to the local village economy, and head off into the core reserve to an observation platform next to a bird colony. We’ll probably have a picnic lunch here to maximise our birding time and enjoy the noise and clamour of this magnificent spectacle for several hours. Some of the othe species we could see include Yellow and Cinnamon Bitterns, Black-backed Swamphen, Black-capped Kingfisher, Blue-tailed Bee-eater, and many others. If we have time in the late afternon we can visit Phnom Krom Marsh for our first chance of White-browed Crake or Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler. Nights Siem Reap.
Day 5 Florican Grasslands - Tmatboey
The critically endangered Bengal Florican and many other waterbirds can be found in the grasslands around the Tonle Sap Lake. The Wildlife Conservation Society has worked with local communities to set up Integrated Farming and Biodiversity Areas (IFBAs) to conserve prime florican habitats and birdwatching trips give an income to the villagers who in return monitor the birds’ movements which will greatly aid us in finding them! The peak display time is shortly after dawn so we’ll need to be up early to give ourselves the best chance of observing this very special bird. If we haven’t seen one already, then we’ll make a special effort to find Manchurian Reed Warbler as well. Other species to keep an eye out for include Barred, Small and Yellow-legged Buttonquails, and both Greater Spotted and Eastern Imperial Eagles which winter in the area and feed on the abundant rodents. There are also large numbers of Eastern Marsh Harriers and smaller number of Pied Harriers wintering in the area, along with a few Black Kites, Peregrines and numerous resident Brahminy Kites. There should also be a few Sarus Cranes here as well and we may well come across a skulking Lanceolated Warbler if we are lucky! Other species present include Woolly-necked Stork, Oriental Pratincole, Spot-breasted Woodpecker, Bluethroat, Siberian Rubythroat, Eastern Grey-headed Wagtail, Bright-headed Cisticola, Red-throated Pipit, Striated Grassbird, Black-browed Reed-warblers, Plain-backed Sparrow, White-shouldered Starling and Yellow-breasted Bunting amongst others. If our luck is in we could find a few migrating Oriental Plovers that regularly stopover in this area each spring. In the afternoon we will drive to the village of Tmatboey in Preah Vihear Province to begin our expedition to find the rare Giant and White-shouldered Ibis. So after we have settled in to our accommodation we can take a short walk through the open forest to where the White-shouldered Ibis usually comes to roost at sunset. Night at Tmatboey Eco-Lodge.
Days 6 – 7 Tmatboey
Tmatboey is a remote Khmer village of 220 families situated in the centre of the Northern Plains of Cambodia, within the Khulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary, the country’s largest protected area. The Tmatboey Ibis Site is a conservation project set up by the Wildlife Conservation Society together with the Cambodian Government and Tmatboey village. Once it was realised that the site had potential for birdwatching tourism a local committee was elected which built the guest accommodation and with training from Sam Veasna Centre provides the services for the birdwatching groups that visit. In return for the income that this brings, the villagers have signed no hunting and land conversion agreements. The Eco-Lodge is comprised of a central recreational thatched building and 4 surrounding bungalows each with 2 double en-suite rooms with solar powered electricity. The accommodation is basic but comfortable.
Tmatboey is one of only two known nesting sites in Asia for Giant Ibis which use large trees in the forest away from the village, whilst White-shouldered Ibis are found closer to the village where they are reliant on the grassland clearings amongst the dipteropcarp forest. On our first morning we will have to drive to an even more secluded location before dawn to begin our search for Giant Ibis amidst the open plains and tracts of dry deciduous forest. The Giant Ibis favours some of the more remote and secluded forest pools and as it is the dry season we will concentrate our efforts near these pools, although we may have to walk a fair distance before finding them!
Numerous other species are present including Chinese Francolin, Woolly-necked Stork, Greater Spotted Eagle, Grey-headed Fish-eagle, Rufous-winged Buzzard, the scarce White-rumped Falcon, Brown Fish-owl, Spotted and Brown Wood-owls, Collared and Oriental Scops-owls, Savannah and Indian Nightjars, Pale-capped Pigeon, Oriental Pied Hornbill, Great Slaty, White-bellied, Black-headed, Spot-breasted and Yellow-crowned Woodpeckers, Blossom-headed and Red-breasted Parakeets, Indian and Violet Cuckoos, Banded Bay Cuckoo, Large Hawk-Cuckoo, Neglected Nuthatch (a recent split from Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch), Brown-backed Needletail, Burmese Shrike, Crested Treeswift, Black-hooded and Black-naped Orioles, Indochinese Bushlark, Stripe-throated and Sooty-headed Bulbuls, Scarlet-backed and Thick-billed Flowerpeckers, Grey Tit, Golden-fronted Leafbird, Common and Large Woodshrikes, Indochinese and Large Cuckooshrikes, Swinhoe's Minivet, Abbott's and Chestnut-capped Babblers, Lesser-necklaced Laughingthrush, Brown Prinia, Radde’s, Two-barred and Yellow-browed Warblers, Pale-legged Leaf-warbler, Racket-tailed and Rufous Treepies, Hair-crested Drongo, Vinous-breasted and White-shouldered Starlings, and Red-billed Blue Magpie. Nights at Tmatboey Eco-Lodge.
Days 8 - 9 Tmatboey – Okoki
After a final morning's birding we will have to leave this wonderful area this morning and begin our journey to the fabulous forests of Okoki, which should allow for some bird watching en-route for any species we may still need. Just 15 kms from the Laos PDR border, this remote area of pristine evergreen forest is home to a diverse mix of mouth-watering species. High on our list of priorities will be the extremely localised White-winged Wood-Duck that inhabits secluded pools and we will have to be in position in some well positioned hides to have a chance of seeing this extremely shy forest dweller. Also present here are three other star birds, Coral-billed Ground-Cuckoo, Green Peafowl and Bar-bellied Pitta, although we will need a great deal of luck to see any of them! Other good birds here include Thick-billed Green-pigeon, Banded and Blue-eared Kingfishers, Orange-breasted Trogon, Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Heart-spotted, Black-and-buff, Rufous-bellied, White-bellied and Great Slaty Woodpeckers, Green-eared Barbet, Banded Broadbill, Indochinese Cuckooshrike, Great Iora, Racket-tailed Treepie, Crimson, Ruby-cheeked, Olive-backed and Van Hasselt's Sunbird, Neglected Nuthatch, Great Iora, Siberian Blue Robin, Arctic, Radde's, Dusky and Yellow-browed Warblers, Large Scimitar-babbler, Scaly-crowned Babbler, Common Hill and Gold-crested Myna’s and many others.
Other species present here include Besra, Crested Goshawk, Collared Falconet, Silver-backed Needletail, Vernal Hanging-Parrot, Dollarbird, Plaintive and Asian Drongo Cuckoos, Blue-eared Barbet, Black-winged Cuckooshrike and Racket-tailed Treepie. and. Our night-time walks could be very exciting as such mouth-watering birds as Oriental Bay-Owl and Blyth's Frogmouth have been seen here. Other night-birds include Great Eared Nightjar, Oriental Scops-owl, Brown Wood-Owl and Brown Fish-Owl. As this is such a remote area we will spend these two nights at a specially set-up camp, complete with safari-style tents. Nights at Okoki Jungle Camp.
Day 10 Okoki - Kratie
After another birding walk in the surrounding forest we will travel to Kratie, along the shores of the mighty Mekong River and arrive in the afternoon where we can explore some nice marshlands for Ruddy-breasted Crake, Watercock, Lesser Coucal, Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler, Streaked and the much-wanted Asiatic Golden Weaver. Night at Kratie.
Day 11 Mekong River - Phnom Penh - Kampot
What better way to spend the first few hours of the day than on a boat cruising along the Mekong River, where we will look for the rare Mekong Wagtail, here at its most easily accessible site. There is also a good chance to see Irrawaddy River Dolphin and Small Pratincole as well. After finishing here we will set out on the drive to Kampot situated on the south-west coast for a three night stay, stopping along the way for the recently discovered Cambodian Tailorbird. If we have time this afternoon we will explore some nearby saltpans where we could find some migrant shorebirds such as Greater and Lesser Sand Plovers, Kentish Plover, Red-necked and Long-toed Stints, and possibly Broad-billed Sandpiper. We will spend the next 2 nights at Kampot.
Days 12 - 13 Bokor National Park
The charming riverside town of Kampot, situated just a couple of miles from the Gulf of Thailand, is our base from which we can explore the lush primary forest of the nearby former French hill station of Bokor (1077m). There is a recently built new road to the summit giving access to a wide variety of elevations and we will appreciate the cool temperatures as we begin our birding amidst the stunted montane forest on the plateau in search of the near-endemic Chestnut-headed Partridge. Our birding will be done mainly from the road and we hope to see such quality birds as Scaly-breasted Partridge, both Great and Wreathed Hornbills, Long-tailed Broadbill, Red-headed Trogon, Blue Pitta and Streaked Wren-babbler. There are many other possibilites during our two full days here such as Rufous-bellied Eagle, Collared Owlet, Barred Cuckoo-Dove, Mountain Imperial-Pigeon, Wedge-tailed and Thick-billed Green-Pigeons, Green-billed Malkoha, Blue-eared and Moustached Barbets, Black-winged Cuckooshrike, Siberian Blue Robin, Black-crested, Stripe-throated, Grey-eyed and Ochraceous Bulbuls, Striped Tit-Babbler, Mugimaki Flycatcher, Large Scimitar-Babbler, Blyth's Shrike-babbler, White-tailed and Alstrom's (Plain-tailed) Warblers, Asian Fairy-Bluebird, Little Spiderhunter, Black-throated Sunbird, Fire-breasted, Thick-billed and Yellow-vented Flowerpeckers, Indochinese Green Magpie and Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo amongst others. At night Mountain Scops-owls begin their monotonous call and Brown Wood-Owls can sometimes be seen close to the road. After lunch on our last day we will drive to Phnom Penh and spend our last night in this amazing country.
Day 14 Phnom Penh - Kuala Lumpur - UK - End of Tour - Sun 20th March
In the morning we will transfer to the airport and catch our return flight back to the UK (via Kuala Lumpur) where we will arrive on Day 15. Or continue with the Fraser's Hill extension.
Malaysia Extension 20th March - 25th March
If continuing with the extension we will fly to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia on Day 14 and head to Kuala Selangor, situated along the coast for an overnight stay. After checking into our hotel we will have some time to relax before venturing into this excellent area during the late afternoon. Here we will continue our woodpecker quest with Common Flameback, Sunda Pygmy and Laced Woodpeckers all seen regularly. There is a colony of Grey, Purple and Black-crowned Night-herons present, and we should also see Ashy Tailorbird fairly easily as well. If we are lucky then some night birding may produce Buffy Fish-owl as well.
Days 15 - 17 Kuala Selangor to Fraser's Hill
We will return to the park this morning and search for Mangrove Pitta and Mangrove Blue Flycatcher, both of which are quite tricky species to see! And then we will head up into the hills, to the fabulous Fraser's Hill, just a couple of hour's drive away. During the next few days we will have plenty of time to explore the numerous trails around the attractive former hill station of Fraser’s Hill. Set amidst mature broadleaved evergreen forest at around 1000m this is a wonderful area of forested hills that stretch to the horizon. Our birding will usually be done from well marked trails or from the road which enables pretty decent viewing conditions to sift through the numerous mixed feeding flocks that occur. As always we will target the special birds which here include Malaysian Partridge, Great Hornbill, the endemic Malayan Whistling-thrush, Malayan and Black Laughingthrushes, Fire-tufted Barbet, Rusty-naped Pitta, Black-and-Crimson Oriole, Javan Cuckooshrike, Rufous-browed Flycatcher, Blue Nuthatch, Collared Babbler and Marbled Wren-babbler. A huge variety of other species are possible here and include an interesting mix of Himalayan and distinctly tropical species including Blyth’s Hawk-eagle, Rufous-bellied Eagle, Black-thighed Falconet, Green-billed Malkoha, Mountain Imperial-pigeon, Yellow-vented Green-pigeon, Little Cuckoo-dove, Sunda Cuckoo, Collared Owlet, Glossy Swiftlet, Whiskered Treeswift, Helmeted and Wreathed Hornbills, Orange-breasted and Red-headed Trogons, Red-bearded Bee-eater, Speckled Piculet, Buff-rumped, Checker-throated, Bamboo and Bay Woodpeckers, Greater and Lesser Yellownapes, Black-browed and Gold-whiskered Barbets, Silver-breasted and Long-tailed Broadbills, Pale Blue, Hill Blue and Little Pied Flycatchers, Large Niltava, White-tailed Robin, Lesser Shortwing, Grey-chinned Minivet, Ochraceous and Mountain Bulbuls, Greater and Lesser Racket-tailed Drongos, Sultan Tit, Pygmy and Streaked Wren-babblers, Large Scimitar-babbler, Buff-breasted Babbler, Grey-throated, Collared and Golden Babblers, Chestnut-capped Laughingthrushe, Silver-eared Mesia, Blyth's and Black-eared Shrike-babblers, Blue-winged Minla, Mountain Fulvetta, White-bellied Erpornis, Long-tailed Sibia, Slaty-backed Forktail, Yellow-bellied and Mountain Leaf-warblers, Mountain Tailorbird, Everett’s White-eye, Black-throated Sunbird, Fire-breasted Flowerpecker, Streaked Spiderhunter and Common Green Magpie.
Day 18 Fraser's Hill - Kuala Lumpur
After some final birding here this morning we will return to Kuala Lumpur for a late afternoon flight back to UK.
Day 19 Kuala Lumpur - UK - 25th March
Morning arrival in UK and end of the tour.
Leader: Nick Bray and Sophoan Sanh.
Ground Price: £2350.00 - Siem Reap/Phnom Penh
Extension Price: £475.00 - Kuala Lumpur/Kuala Lumpur
Airfare: £650.00 - £750.00 (Approx) - UK/UK
Zoothera tour prices explained
Single supplement: £150 – note single rooms may not be available at Tmatboey or Okoki.
Single supplement Extension: £125
Group size: Minimum for tour to go ahead 4 and maximum of 10 with 2 leaders.
Included in cost: All meals unless stated, accommodation in twin rooms en-suite, bottled drinking water, all ground transport throughout the tour, boat rides, all reserve entrance fees, conservation donation to protected sites, and services of the local guides and leaders.
Not included: International flights, insurance, visa fee, drinks, camera fees at National Parks, tips, departure tax, and items of a personal nature.
Accommodation: Ranges from reasonable to good. In Siem Reap and Kampot the hotel is of a good Boutique-syle standard. The eco-lodge at Tmatboey has full en-suite facilities, and at Okoki we will be based at a tented campsite with safari-style tents. We are using the best accommodation available closest to the birding sites to utilise our time to best effect. At Fraser's Hill we will stay in a large old colonial-style hotel with good facilities.
Tour Code: This is a relatively standard tour where early starts and some late finishes when owling can be expected. Usually there is some time off during the middle of the day to relax. Most of our birding walks will be of a usual slow pace and relatively easy, and there are some long drives involved. Expect the weather to be quite hot at this time of year in the Cambodian lowlands, and cooler at Bokor and Fraser's Hill.
Receive our e-newsletter:
Join the Zoothera e-mailing list for up-to-date news on new tours, tour reports and special offers.
e-mail email@example.com to sign up.
Recommended Books, CD's and more from NHBS. Click on - Buy from NHBS - to go straight to website!
The air holidays and flights shown are ATOL protected by the Civil Aviation Authority. Our ATOL number is 10436.
Please see our Terms and Conditions for more information.