The Temple Safari Experience
Temple Safari is our signature trip and the most popular of the safaris that Hanuman has created. It was conceived on a trip to Uganda and Rwanda by Executive Director Kulikar Sotho. She travelled widely to leading national parks, including Murchison Falls in the north, Kibale Forest in the west and the famous Parc des Volcans, home to the mountain gorillas studied by Diane Fossey. Inspired by the safari experience in the national parks of East Africa, she wanted to offer something unique in Cambodia. The wildlife of Cambodia is in remote and inaccessible areas of dense forest, so the logical option was to substitute temples for animals and Temple Safari was born.
Guests can be transported back in time to an era before mass tourism and enjoy the intimacy and privacy of a remote jungle temple all to themselves. Solitary sunsets, spiritual sunrises, the Temple Safari experience brings the magic back to travel.
Temple Safari currently covers four principal complexes in Northwestern Cambodia, which include the signature faces of Banteay Chhmar, the incredible pyramid temple at Koh Ker, the vast temple of Preah Khan, and the king of the mountain temples, Preah Vihear. Temple Safaris can also be arranged on request to places like Beng Mealea and Sambor Prei Kuk, as well as the really remote temple of Prasat Neak Buos.
For guests that only have the time to do a one night Temple Safari trip, the best options are Banteay Chhmar and Koh Ker, as both are accessible in less than three hours from Siem Reap. Banteay Chhmar is undergoing extensive renovations and offers some superb examples of Jayavarman VII face temples. Our camp here is set by the walls of an atmospheric face temple smothered in jungle. Koh Ker is a popular option as it includes a visit to the jungle temple of Beng Mealea en route. Koh Ker was a 10th century rival capital to Angkor and is home to a prolific array of temples from this era. The Mayan-esque step pyramid of Prasat Thom is most impressive, but other smaller temples are also striking, including Prasat Bram with its suffocating strangler figs.
Longer Temple Safaris include the farther flung temples of Preah Khan or Preah Vihear. Preah Khan was the largest single temple constructed during the Angkor period and includes some important satellite temples such as the faces of Prasat Preah Stung. Sadly, it was heavily looted during the 1990s The access roads to this temple are extremely challenging, adding up to make this an experience more for the dedicated temple hunter. Preah Vihear is the most spectacularly situated of any of the Angkorian temples, clinging to a clifftop on the Dangrek Mountains high above the plains of Cambodia. Once our most popular safari experience, we have not operated overnight safaris there for more than one year now, due to the ongoing border dispute between Cambodia and Thailand. Some guests are still choosing to visit the site during the day as part of a safari routing that includes an overnight in the former Khmer Rouge stronghold of Anlong Veng. We hope the situation will stabilise soon and that we can once again spend the night as this most mountainous of mountain temples. For the time being, we will monitor the situation carefully and may have to alter itineraries at short notice if the border dispute erupts into conflict.
The routes above are just a sample of the many combinations that are possible. Feel free to use these in your itinerary planning or contact one of our senior team for up-to-the-minute advice on how to best build a Temple Safari into a trip to Cambodia.