This excursion gets you deep in to the Cambodian countryside, visiting local villages and tasting local produce, wandering through jungle and learning about conservation at the Angkor Centre for Biodiversity. At the Landmine Museum you will no doubt ponder the challenges that still exist in Cambodia today. Yet the highlight of your day will un-doubtedly be a visit to the jewel of the Angkor temples – Banteay Srei.
Time your visit Banteay Srei to get the best morning light, the earlier the better. The so-called “”Citadel of the Women”” was built between the 11th and 13th century and remains the best preserved ruin in Cambodia – it displays some of the finest examples of classical Khmer art, being noted for its truly remarkable fine bas-reliefs depicting the Hindu god Shiva. Banteay Srei is unique in that it is constructed of pink sandstone which is seen nowhere else in the region.
On the way, you will have some opportunity to taste some fruits and local produce, as your guide will help you chat with the local villagers you pass en route.
After Banteay Srei, continue north to Kbal Spean, one of the earliest Hindu pilgrimage sites in Cambodia. A moderate 1.5 mile trek up the hill through dense jungle will reward you with excellent views over the plains and the Kulen hills. At the top, there is the “”River of 1000 Lingas”” with stone carvings of Hindu gods, animals and phallic symbols in the river bed. During the raining season, you can take a refreshing bath in the beautiful waterfall, an extremely popular pastime with local families. After the descent, lunch is served at a local restaurant at Kbal Spean.
After lunch, you head to the close by ‘Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity’, the first of its kind in Cambodia. The stated aims of the centre is to rescue, rehabilitate, breed and reintroduce threatened wildlife, whilst also providing environmental education, promote wildlife conservation and train local villagers in sustainable usage of natural resources. On site you can see various endangered species, reptiles and a beekeeping project.
On the way back to Siem Reap, stop at the Landmine Museum which promotes mine awareness and education. Mr. Aki Ra, the museum founder, was a child soldier during the Khmer Rouge times and is today actively working as a ‘de-miner’. The museum also serves as a rescue centre for a number of landmine amputee children who Aki Ra took off the Phnom Penh streets or from impoverished rural villages.
In the afternoon, transfer back to Siem Reap.