Prek Toal Biosphere Reserve in Siem Reap ( $ 165 per person)(Children 10 years and under are half priced)
Enter a world that time has forgotten, the single most important breeding ground in Southeast Asia for globally threatened large water birds. Visit the floating villages and cruise across the Tonle Sap Lake, the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia. The trip will also include a visit to two different fishing villages. Then dock with the Queen Tara 100-year-old with a fascinating history (ex-Cargo Boat) for a meal and drinks, enjoy the stunning scenery from the largest boat on the largest lake in Southeast Asia.
Meeting your expert bird guide at your hotel, 6am (in your hotels foyer/reception area) and proceed via air-conditioned car or tuk tuk to the boat dock area. Transfer onto a mini-Tara boat, a special flat bottomed tradition style riverboat driven by experienced local boat drivers. On the way to the Prek Toal Bird Sanctuary, you will pass through the floating village and flooded forest(seasonal) where everything floats, including homes, police stations, shops, schools, and markets. Next, proceed across the great lake, Tonle Sap, and enter into the Prek Toal floating community, we proceed along the Sangkor River and meet up with the Rangers boat for our entry into the actual reserve, we will meet up with the local rangers and transfer onto their boats for the trip inside the Biosphere reserve. These boats are much smaller and can get in closer to the viewing platforms. For the keen bird watches, smaller row boats that will allow the local guide to row you up close to where the birds are nesting a very special place indeed. (Please note its now possible to stay the night at the floating village on our lovely Queen Tara, this way can be at the bird sanctuary very early) inquiries welcome about this option.
Of the three core areas of the biosphere on the Tonle Sap Lake, Prek Toal is the most popular with birdwatchers. The best time to explore is the dry season between November to May when flocks of migratory birds congregate at Prek Toal. While the dry season progresses and the water recedes, the number of birds increase, but the tour to some of the more important viewing areas becomes more difficult, our expert bird guides together with the rangers advise we navigate the numerous rivers and inlets. This is an incredible sight, as thousands of huge water birds call this sanctuary home.
The bird sanctuary at Prek Toal is one of the wonders of Southeast Asia, with the abundance of fish it attracts thousands upon thousands of rare and endangered water birds, on the freshwater lake and flooded forests and mangroves, (see bird list below), The most common bird species we see are the Spot billed Pelicans, Open billed storks, Chinese Pond Herons, Terns, Egrets. Oriental Darters are seen in huge numbers its hard the believe they are rare and endangered. We also Have regular sightings of Painted Storks, Grey Head fish eagles and Brahminy Kites. If we are very lucky, we sometimes see rare Adjutant Storks and black headed Ibis from a tree hide which is a fantastic place to watch Tens of Thousands of nested birds, our expert bird guides after some 20 years of guiding through this area know all the best locations.
Afterwards, head back to meet up with the mini-Taras, please note (our mini-Tara all have life jackets and toilets for your safety and comfort), then cross the Great Tonle Sap Lake to meet up with the Queen Tara (ex-cargo vessel almost 100 years old), in the heart of the floating village. There, you can enjoy a full lunch (Vegetarian options available) and drinks. Take some time to relax on our plentiful hammocks or enjoy the stunning scenery from the biggest boat on the lake. Then meet up with your air-conditioned car for the journey back to your Siem Reap accommodation. (if you wish to get an early start, its now possible to stay on the Queen Tara Riverboat) check out the home stays section for details.
Some of the birds to be seen include:
Asian open bill, Asian Palm Swift
Bank Swallow, Barn Swallow, Baya Weaver, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Bee Eater, Black-headed Ibis, Brahminy,
Cattle Egret, Chinese Pond Heron, Common Green shank, Common Hill Myna, Common Iora, Coppersmith Barbet, Cotton Pygmy-goose
Dark-necked Tailorbird, Darter-Oriental
Eurasian Tree Sparrow.
Glossy Ibis, Grey-headed Fish-Eagle, Grey Heron, Great Adjutant, Great Egret
Kingfisher common, Kingfisher stork billed,
Lesser Adjutant, Lineated Barbet, Little Egret, Little Ringer Plover, Little Cormorant
Masked Fin Foot
Painted Stork, Pied fantail, Purple Heron
Shikra, Steak-eared Bulbul, Spot-billed Pelican
Whiskered Tem, White-Vented Myna
Yellow Bittern, Yellow Wagtail, Yellow-bellied Prina, Yellow-Vented Bulbul
Minimum of 2 people required.
Tara Riverboat owns all our own boats, this ensures our guests do not wait for other guests to fill up the public boats as other operators do, saving both time and money.
Our guides for this adventure are all Licensed and where trained by the Bird Guide and Conservation commission.
Collection of eggs and chicks at the nest remain the single most threat to the continued survival of these water birds on the Tonle Sap Lake. Cutting of the forest areas for firewood is also a big problem specially the cutting down of large tree’s is adversely affecting availability of nesting sites for large water birds. Damming of the Mekong up stream may also affect the fishing and water birds. In order to address some of these issues, a lot of education has and is going on at a local village level, other measure is the employment of the villages in a sustainable field, tourism is a major boast as the rangers and boat operators, guides are from this village, also some of the villages are producing products and also building smaller boats.
Like all our tours, no more to pay, zero scams, just good clean service with a smile.
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