The Cambodia Safari Experience
Temple Safari was originally conceived to take visitors off-the-beaten-path to encounter the magnificent jungle temples beyond Angkor, far from the madding crowds. The roads were sometimes bumpy and the temples sometimes dilapidated, but the intimate experience of camping at the walls of an ancient monument more than compensated for some hardships along the way. Many of the roads have since been rebuilt and many of the temples are under renovation, but the essence of the experience remains the same – Temple Safari delivers the Angkor experience of old, timeless temples with not a visitor in sight. Witness the most atmospheric temple ruins on earth, forgotten in the forests for almost a millennia. See sunrise inching over the horizon, the temple ruins lost amid the jungle canopy, the modern world forgotten for a moment in time. Temple Safari is an original Hanuman creation and although it may sometimes be copied, it is never rivalled, as we are the only company with many years of experience in this sort of trip.
The safaris are very much a seasonal adventure. Anyone who has had experience of camping in the rain will understand that the wet season is not the ideal time to undertake a safari. The best season for undertaking a safari is from November through to April, roughly corresponding to the dry season and the tourist high season. May, June and July need not be a bad time either, as it is hard to predict when the rains will come. October is also usually possible, as the rains are easing up at this time, although later in the month is a safer bet. We would not recommend a safari trip during August and September.
Travel on safari is by comfortable 4WD. The usual vehicle of choice is a Toyota Landcruiser, as this is built to tackle tough roads. However, we also use Nissan Patrols and Mitsubishi Pajeros for the more accessible Temple Safaris at Banteay Chhmar and Koh Ker. For the Beach Safaris, it is possible to use a car or minibus, as the roads to the South Coast are in good shape. Cambodia Safaris can be tackled by motorbike with support vehicle for the more adventurous at heart. Those with some dirt-biking experience will find the trails of Preah Vihear province some of the most exhilarating biking in the world, with the pay-off of camping out at remote jungle temples at the end of the day. Motorbike tours include a support vehicle, a mechanic and motorbiking tour guide. For incentive groups or VIPs looking for something very different, we can also arrange a quad biking adventure from Beng Mealea to Preah Khan along the ancient Angkor highway known as Route 66, complete with incredible naga-flanked bridges in the jungle.
The safaris are not for everyone. It may be camping in style, but it is still camping. For those used to African adventures, it will be very familiar, but for others used to hotel chains and sanitized surroundings it may not be ideal. Cambodia remains a very poor country, with limited infrastructure, and this becomes more apparent the further visitors venture from the Siem Reap-Angkor bubble. However, as a taste of the ‘real’ Cambodia, it is an unrivalled experience that will remain with guests forever.
Adventure vs In Style
We have two safari classifications. So how do we differentiate the new ‘Adventure’ and ‘In Style’ classifications? This is done in a number of ways, ranging from all new tents with connected bathrooms to an all-round higher level of service on the ‘In Style’ trips. If the original Temple Safari is a 3* camping experience, then ‘In Style’ is more like 4* boutique camping, akin to the level of service and experience at a boutique hotel. Looking in more depth, the new-look tents include fully-appointed hotel-style bathrooms, complete with flush toilet, wash basin and stylish toiletries. The furnishings are all wood, including full-size single beds, tables and chairs and clothes rails, plus an antique brass fan. Service is taken to another level, including bath robe, slippers and orchids on the bed with a turndown service. Meals are fully catered as before, but with a butler service and beer and wine is also included, not only soft drinks and water.
The Angkor Safari Tents allow Hanuman to take guests to places in Cambodia that currently have no or little tourism infrastructure, ensuring a truly unique experience. The tents are based upon the tried and tested African safari tents and are fully waterproof. Each day they are pitched at our destination by our staff on a durable tarpaulin and they consist of two layers. The inner layer comes with complete mosquito and insect protection and includes five meshed windows for light and breeze during the day. The overall dimensions of the tent are 3m wide x 4m long x 2.5m high. Yes, you heard it right, 2.5m high offering standing room throughout. The ‘Adventure’ tents include a separate bathroom and shower tent located near the main sleeping tent, while the new ‘In Style’ tents include a connected bathroom, linked to the rear of the main tent by a small ante-room for luggage storage.
The itineraries featured on the website are just a smattering of samples to inspire your travel planning. However, there are many more combinations available that we haven’t included here, so don’t feel that this booklet contains your only options. Hanuman pride itself on flexibility and we are happy to work closely with you to craft each itinerary and experience to fit the client. For those that are really looking to have the complete safari experience in Cambodia, it is possible to plan a two-week tour, that includes a couple of nights up the Mekong, some time in the lively capital, a detour to the south coast and a Beach Safari experience, and the signature Temple Safari experience on the road to Angkor.
Hanuman is a strong supporter of responsible tourism and sustainable tourism practices. Our safari trips include a commitment to responsible tourism. Temple Safari has been an employment generator in areas that previously had no economy beyond agriculture. Hanuman has trained up a support team to assist with preparing and supplying the camps. Food and general supplies are sourced locally where possible, although this is not always possible in the case of certain luxuries. Hanuman employs up to 10 people on a part-time basis in each safari location, working as anything from cooks and cleaners to porters and security. Even on trips like Beach Safari we endeavour to buy fresh fish direct from local fishermen on the islands, rather than bringing supplies from the mainland. We will bring the same philosophy to our Mekong Safaris in the coming year. Guests can rest assured that their Cambodian safari will be doing its little bit to help the local economy in remote areas. We are also big supporters of NGO and community projects up and down the country, ranging from Friends or Romdeng restaurants in Phnom Penh to Artisans d’Angkor in Siem Reap. On our safari trips, we build in good cause visits where suitable, such as Weaves of Cambodia in Tbeng Meanchey, Wat Roka Kandal in Kratie, Mekong Blue in Stung Treng or Starfish Bakery in Sihanoukville.