Not renowned as a spiritual destination like Phnom Penh and Siem Reap with hundreds of sacred pagodas, temples and shrines, Battambang Province, with Prek Toal, has been regarded as an optimal option for tours to Cambodia who prefer a trip of unforgettable experience.
Prek Toal bird sanctuary, also containing a floating village, is a conserved ecosystem that is the most essential breeding ground for globally endangered large waterbirds in South East Asia. Due to its biological paramount importance to the entire region, the flooded forest Prek Toal has been designated as the core hub, encompassing an area of 21,000 hectare, of the Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve based on its botanical diversity and its nesting colonies of threatened waterbirds. Prek Toal Core Area plays host to a substantial number of threatened bird species including Greater and Lesser Adjuncts, Black-headed Ibis, Painted Stork, Milky Stork, Spot-billed Pelican, Grey-Headed Fish Eagle and many more species. Read more: travel to Cambodia
Current ecotourism activities in Prek Toal area are composed of both guided tour to the bird sanctuary and community-based village tour in Prek Toal floating village. Water surrounding the site makes it only accessible via motorboats departing from either Battambang or Siem Riep. Prek Toal bird sanctuary itself is exceedingly fabulous with the scene of hundreds of waterbirds, all of which you can hardly identify without a professional guide, are clustered around dozen of nesting trees.
Hanging around the site, you should be accompanied by a local guide, due to not only his impressive command of bird species, but also his experience of the best location for bird watching. Unfortunately, Prek Toal is a sanctuary, apparently not a zoo, so you can not approach the birds really near; however, that does not preclude you from admiring a magnificent spectacle of birds, especially in their breeding season. This season also coincides with dry season when water level are lower than usual, rendering it harder to travel to several prominent watching areas, involving Spotted Bill Pelican, Milky and Painted Stock, Lesser and Greater Adjutant, Grey Headed Fish Eagle, Black necked Ibis, and etc.
In case you plan to stay in Prek Toal overnight, taking advantages of sunset and sunrise viewing hours, basic accommodation is always available at the Research Station. The entry fee slightly ranges depending on the number of people in your group.
The fishing lot, with several traditional floating villages, covers an area of no less than 50,000 hectare.
The locals live around the core area on bamboo rafts or in houseboats, an adaptation to the ebb and flow of the lake. You can explore the locals’ fishing customs and lifestyle, experience daily life in rural Cambodia, learn about local crafts in the handicraft community and go to a crocodile farm nearby. You will be heartened to know that the whole entrance fee you have just paid will contribute to the locals’ life and economic development in the future.
The Indochina Voyages team.