Thanks to the generosity of Absolute Travel, 10% of the purchase price of this trip will be donated directly to Wildlife Alliance’s Elephant Habitat Protection Program.
Equal parts cultural haven and natural wonder, Cambodia offers travelers a rare sense of awe.
Many visitors revel in the riotous lanes of Phnom Penh and wander Siem Reap’s ancient ruins—some of the world’s most alluring sites—but few have the opportunity to explore the dense jungles teaming with life and the rural rainforest villages. This journey will give you a local’s experience in Phnom Penh with cyclo rides and market visits, a historian’s look at Siem Reap’s many evocative temples, but then take you further. You’ll plunge into the depths of Cambodia’s wild ranges with Wildlife Alliance. For four nights you’ll learn just what it takes to protect the Southwest Elephant Corridor, one of Asia’s last. You’ll connect with reformed poachers and illegal loggers who now dedicate their lives to patrolling the rainforest. Between ranger-led hikes—on the lookout for illegal activity—you’ll visit family farms, learn about the Tropical Reforestation Project and Community Agriculture Development Project, kayak, bike, and dine at Cambodia’s best roadside restaurants. All while staying in Cambodia’s most stunning and sustainable properties.
- Four nights with Wildlife Alliance at the Koh Sothun Ecolodge
- Learn about the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center, one of Southeast Asia’s premier rescue centers
- Meet forest patrol officers. Hike with them as they patrol for illegal activities and protect the Southwest Elephant Corridor, combating deforestation and poaching
- Eat lunch with reformed poachers and illegal loggers who now work with Wildlife Alliance to help protect Cambodia’s forests and wildlife.
- Visit the Million Tree Nursery and learn about the Tropical Reforestation Project
- Tour local family farms that are part of the Community Agriculture Development Project and dine on a farm-fresh lunch
- Join the Stung Proat Station Rangers on their patrol boat
Day 1: Phnom Penh
Upon arrival in Phnom Penh, you will be met by the Absolute Travel representative and transferred to the Raffles Hotel Le Royal for an overnight stay. Cambodia’s dynamic capital is currently undergoing a cultural and economic renaissance after years of turbulence and civil war. After settling in, head out to explore some of the city’s highlights with a private afternoon tour. Visit the Russian Market, one of the most colorful and chaotic markets in the country.
Overnight: Raffles Hotel Le Royal
Day 2: Phnom Penh — Siem Reap
The next morning, set out on a tour with a private guide before catching a flight to Siem Reap.
Weave through Phnom Penh’s colorful city streets by cyclo—the city’s traditional method of transportation. A local architecture student will introduce you the city’s architectural marvels, from the Chinese shop-house style to the early 20th century French Colonial buildings and New Khmer Architecture of the 1950’s and 60’s. Visit the elegant Royal Palace, a Khmer-style structure erected in 1866, which stands on the site of the former citadel, Banteay Kev. A highlight of the palace complex is the Silver Pagoda, named for its dazzling floor made with 5,000 silver tiles that weigh one kilogram each. The Silver Pagoda houses a broad, eclectic selection of statuary and Buddhist relics, many from the Royal collection. This afternoon, fly to Siem Reap, the home of Angkor Wat, once the cradle of a highly complex civilization that controlled the greater part of Southeast Asia for four centuries. Upon arrival you will be met by your guide and transferred to Park Hyatt for a three-night stay.
Day 3 & 4: Siem Reap
The next day, from dawn till dusk, you’ll explore the mystical forest temples around Siem Reap by foot or bike. Begin at Srah Srang, the Royal Baths. Continue on to Ta Prohm, completely engulfed in vines and tree roots over the course of centuries, this is arguably the most evocative of all Angkor’s temples. Then on to Ta Nei—you may have the whole place to yourself! After lunch, you’ll thoroughly discover Angkor—unquestionably one of the wonders of the ancient world. Begin at Angkor Thom’s Victory Gate, walk the 8 meter high laterite wall to the Death Gate (this route may also be followed by mountain bike) to Wat Tang Tok to witness a water blessing ceremony by the monks. At the center of Angkor Thom you’ll see the Temple of Bayon, then pass the Elephant and Leper King Terraces on the way to Preah Palilay. Finally, walk through Phimeanakas with its beautiful lakes and the imposing Baphuon, before finishing at the Jayavarman’s state temples of Bayon, in the city’s center. In the evening, sip sundowners while enjoying a leisurely boat ride on the moat of Angkor Thom.
On the following day, you will rise early to see Angkor Wat at sunrise. Bring your camera for some stunning shots. After breakfast at your hotel, set out to experience rural Cambodia and contemporary Khmer culture. Drive, walk and ride boats and ox-carts through rice paddies, forest and gardens to see Cambodia beyond the tourist circuit.
Overnight: Park Hyatt Siem Reap
Day 5 – 8: Wildlife Alliance
Spend your last day in Siem Reap at your leisure until your scheduled flight back to Phnom Penh, where you will meet your forest patrol team to begin a five-day stay with Wildlife Alliance. Wildlife Alliance protects nearly 2 million acres of forestland and provides alternative livelihoods in reforestation, agriculture, and ecotourism to thousands of rural community members.
on the first day, forest patrol officers will brief you about their work protecting the Southwest Elephant Corridor, one of Asia’s last seven remaining elephant corridors and how they combat against deforestation and wildlife poaching. Continue on to Chi Phat for lunch at Wildlife Alliance’s main site. Many of the workers are former poachers and illegal loggers who have transformed into helpful members of the community. Head to Koh Sothun Ecolodge for a four-night stay. Here you can go fishing in the river and dine on freshly caught Mekong lobster.
On day 6, after breakfast, visit the Million Tree Nursery and learn about the Tropical Reforestation Project. You will encounter community members preparing seeds and planting in shade nets. Continue on to tour the greenhouse, which contains about 90 indigenous species that Wildlife Alliance has collected from the rainforest. Visit the picturesque O’Malu waterfall for a picnic lunch and a chance to swim before heading back to Chi Phat on mountain bikes.
On day 7 you will drive to Sovanna Baitong, home of the Community Agriculture Development Project. Set out on an informative tour of local family farms, and learn about the process to create and manage these businesses. Dine on fresh local food before heading back to Chi Phat. You can chose to go kayaking, hiking, or biking for the evening.
On day 8, you will become a forest ranger for the day. Set off from Koh Sothun with Stung Proat Station Rangers on a patrol boat to join them in their daily activities. Hike along hunting trails on the lookout for illegal activities. After, enjoy a traditional lunch, prepared for you at one of Cambodia’s best roadside restaurants. Continue to the unique Four Rivers Floating Lodge on the Tatai River.
Overnight: Koh Sothun Ecolodge
Day 9: Phnom Penh
On the final day with the Wildlife Alliance, you can sleep in and spend the day at leisure. Jump into the river directly from your floating room, kayak, boat, or just relax.
After check-out head back to Phnom Penh with your driver and guide. Check in to the Raffles Hotel Le Royal for an overnight stay.
Overnight: Raffles Hotel Le Royal
Day 10: Departure
Today you will be transferred to the airport for your departing flight.