TPS Hike, Bike, Kayak & Service Across Cambodia 2017

TPS Hike, Bike, Kayak & Service Across Cambodia 2017

Trip Highlights

  • Trek, bike and kayak your way across Cambodia!
  • Visit Skateistan, Khmer Rouge Tribunal Courts & Cambodian Living Arts in Phnom Penh
  • Visit the harrowing genocide museums of the Pol Pot legacy in Phnom Penh
  • Service work at Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre helping rescued Sun Bears
  • Exploring the rivers, waterfalls and lush rainforests of the Cardamom Mountains
  • Supported cycling through some of Cambodia's most stunning landscapes
  • Experiencing village life and supporting local eco-tourism with community homestays
  • French colonial architecture and laid-back charm in Battambang
  • Siem Reap and the iconic temples and ruins of Angkor
  • Kayaking among floating villages on the Tonlé Sap lake

Trip Summary

This trip takes in the must-see gems of Cambodia but also steps off the well-worn path to gain a deeper appreciation of the region’s people, culture and natural wilderness—by bike, hike, kayak and ethical Service work.

Departing from Canberra, the real adventure starts when you arrive in Phnom Penh where you visit the Royal Palace and then learn about the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge at the Killing Fields followed by meeting with staff from Cambodian Living Arts who are working hard to reinvigorate traditional artistic methods which were so badly targeted through the conflict. Next is a unique opportunity to meet the team from Skateistan, who use the skateboard as a way to empower disadvantaged youth. We have arranged special access to the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. The ECCC is a court established to try the most senior responsible members of the Khmer Rouge for alleged violations of international law and serious crimes perpetrated during the Cambodian genocide.

We then turn our attention to wildlife conservation by working alongside the veterinarians at the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre which is changing local attitudes towards the protection of the Sun Bear.

We depart the capital by private mini bus to explore and discover the jungles of the Cardamom Mountains, trekking and cycling our way through lush rainforest and staying in local village homestays and meeting with remote communities. Leaving the jungle behind we move onto discovering the French colonial architecture of the charming river town of Battambang. Using it as a base we venture out on bike to the surrounding villages visiting local farmers and Khmer sites.

Saving the best for last, we next explore the magnificent temples of Angkor where we also have time to explore the beautiful and less-frequented temple complex of Banteay Srei. We kayak among floating stilt villages on the Tonlé Sap Lake and finish this adventure with a trek up the pilgrimage path to the summit of Phnom Kulen, Cambodia’s most sacred mountain.

The combination of ethical service work, challenging activities, back roads adventuring and engagement with local culture makes this an ideal trip for someone looking for an active and engaging journey in Cambodia. Come along and get involved!

Suitability

These adventures involve trekking, cycling, rafting or sea kayaking for up to 6 or 7 hours a day at a steady pace. You will need a good level of fitness and be in good health. The majority of our moderately graded treks involve the carrying of a day pack only. Be prepared for potential variable weather conditions.

Suggested preparation; 1 hour of aerobic exercise, three to four times a week and extended periods of exercise during the weekend will accustom you to regular exercise. Hill walking with a pack in variable weather conditions will be beneficial if you are taking part in a trekking adventure, kayaking or road cycling is also recommended depending upon the activity you plan to undertake.

Itinerary

After so many months thinking, preparing, and planning for your Cambodian adventure the departure day has finally arrived! Your QANTAS or Virgin Airlines flight departs Canberra and after a brief transit your Vietnam Airlines flight departs Sydney at 11:50am. After transiting HCMC you will arrive into Phnom Penh, Cambodia at 7:20pm. Sua s’dei! Welcome to Cambodia! Upon arrival you will be greeted by your local English speaking guide and transferred to the comfortable River Home Hotel. After a short break the guide will take you out for a walk around the nearby streets where you will be able to change money and get a little familiar with your surroundings. After a big day of travelling we encourage you to have an early night so as you're ready to get out and explore and get among the amazing temples and busy markets and streets which make Phnom Penh such a fascinating city. Accommodation: River Home Hotel – Superior Room - www.riverhomehotel.com VN 772 23SEP SYD SGN 1150 1635 VN3853 23SEP SGN PNH 1830 1920

Meals:  Nil

Today we have a full day’s sightseeing which we provide you with confronting experiences along with moments of awe and amazement. First stop is the Tuol Sleng Museum, or Museum of Genocide. This place is testament to a more recent and bloody past. Originally this building was a high school, until in 1975, when it became the Khmer Rouge's main torture and interrogation centre, gaining the acronym 'S-21'. From here the victims were taken out and executed in what is now known as the Killing Fields. Aboard our private coach we drive to the killing fields of Choeung Ek (16 km south of Phnom Penh). Between 1975 and 1978 about 17,000 men, women, children and infants (including nine westerners) were detained and tortured at S-21 prison, and were then transported to the extermination camp of Choeung Ek. These two visits are very powerful and confronting where many conflicting emotions maybe experienced. There will be time afterwards to reflect and discuss one of humankind's most brutal periods. After learning about some of Cambodia’s tragic past it is time to put a smile back on your face and experience modern Khmer life. We return to central Phnom Penh for lunch before visiting the impressive Royal Palace and the adjoining Silver Pagoda. The Silver Pagoda, also known as the Pagoda of the Emerald Buddha, named after the statue housed there, was created by King Norodom in 1892. The floor is comprised of more than 5,000 silver blocks, weighing a total of 6 tones. The National Museum, built in the Khmer style in the 1920’s has an extensive collection of Khmer art. After the museum, we will scale the steps of a small hill nearby to see Wat Phnom Temple, the birth place of Phnom Penh. Dinner will be served at a local restaurant. Accommodation: Angkor Holiday Hotel. Superior Room. www.angkorholidayhotel.com

Meals:  B,L,D

This morning we visit a fun and empowering organization called Skateistan (www.kh.skateistan.org). Skateistan Cambodia uses innovative, youth-led programming that builds confidence, trust and social capital among children. They use “the hook” of skateboarding to connect kids with education and provide opportunities for education, leadership, and creative thinking that help break the cycles of poverty and exclusion. We will hear from the staff on the successes which Skateistan Phnom Penh have had and also meet with some of the participants and have a chance to skate around with them on a borrowed boards on the well set up park which regularly hosts Tony Hawk and others. Lunch is at Romdeng Restaurant. The best things are found in the most unexpected places. Tucked away on Street 174 you will find the Cambodian training restaurant, Romdeng, run by former street youth in training. Set in a beautiful colonial building, Romdeng serves a great variety of Cambodian food ranging from almost forgotten recipes from the provinces to contemporary creative Cambodian cuisine. With yesterdays visits to Tuol Sleng and the Killing Fields fresh in our minds we next witness how law and order have caught up with many of those who were responsible for crimes against humanity. We have arranged special access to the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. The ECCC is a court established to try the most senior responsible members of the Khmer Rouge for alleged violations of international law and serious crimes perpetrated during the Cambodian genocide. The ECCC is a special Cambodian court which receives international assistance through the United Nations Assistance to the Khmer Rouge Trials (UNAKRT). The court is more commonly referred to by the more informal name the Khmer Rouge Tribunal or the Cambodia Tribunal. Our visit will include lectures, presentations and discussions with court officials to learn how the court prosecutes perpetrators for alleged crimes against humanity. Special regulations apply for visits regarding dress and conduct and more information will be provided in your Pre-Departure Information pack. After an early dinner we then experience Cambodia's rich culture and traditions through music and dance by seeing a performance by Cambodian Living Arts. Set in the splendid gardens of the National Museum watch Cambodia's top-ranked Apsara dancers perform many classical and folk dances. Accommodation: Angkor Holiday Hotel. Superior Room. www.angkorholidayhotel.com

Meals:  B,L,D

After an early breakfast we drive to Free The Bears located in the Phnom Tamao Zoological Gardens and Wildlife Center about an hours drive from Phnom Penh. Free The Bears Fund cares for 86 bears and also coordinates Wildlife Rescue Centre. The first sanctuary was opened in 1998 and since then more land has been made available to enlarge the enclosures as more bears are rescued. The Sun bears and Asiatic Black bears live together in harmony. You will be assisting the staff working with groups of rescued Sun bears and Moon bears. The centre currently has 24 large outdoor enclosures covering about 8 hectares. The enclosures are very natural and have large rocky outcrops, native fauna, climbing frames and platforms, pools and other enrichment’s. It is a safe and happy home to bears that have been rescued from a range of different situations including poachers, the black market, the bile farm industry and businesses using them for entertainment, trades which often leave behind very young orphaned cubs. HOW CLOSELY WILL I BE WORKING WITH THE BEARS? There will be tasks that will not involve direct contact with the bears, but will benefit them greatly. These include building new enrichment's, repairing and maintaining their enclosures and maintenance of the area surrounding the enclosures. You will also get to work with the keepers giving out the daily feeds and cleaning the enclosures (the bears will be brought in to holding cages whilst you are in the enclosure). Obviously, direct physical contact is not possible as these are large wild animals and can potentially be dangerous. THE BENEFITS You will have a unique, once in a lifetime chance to get behind the scenes of this world class bear rescue facility. Your time and your financial contribution will provide critical aid enabling them to rescue more bears and continue to improve and enrich their lives. On a personal level you will have an amazing opportunity to work alongside these incredible animals and gain the satisfaction of helping to make a difference to their lives. Lunch will be a picnic lunch enjoyed at the sanctuary. In the late afternoon we will return to our hotel in Phnom Penh and rest easy in the knowledge that we are directly contributing to the upkeep and protection of these animals. Dinner will be served at a local restaurant. Accommodation: River Home Hotel – Superior Room - www.riverhomehotel.com

Meals:  B,L,D

This morning we will return to the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre to spend time assisting the animal keepers at the Free The Bears sanctuary. Picnic lunch will be served at the centre. In the afternoon we return to Phnom Penh and spend some time browsing through the colorful markets of Phnom Penh. The Russian Market is the best place in the city for wood and stone carvings, jewelry, clothes and Cambodian silk souvenirs. We will return to the hotel for refreshment before a special New Years Eve dinner at a local restaurant. Accommodation: River Home Hotel – Superior Room - www.riverhomehotel.com

Meals:  B,L,D

Today we leave the city and head for the remote beauty of the Cardamom Mountains. We’ll be staying in the village of Chi Phat, a small community that has received training and development from Wildlife Alliance (an international environmental conservation NGO) in order to run a local CBET (community based eco-tourism) program. Once we arrive in Chi Phat we’ll be welcomed by our community guide who will show us around the village and teach us about life in the village, as well as local flora and fauna. After lunch we’ll take a short bike ride to waterfalls just north of Chi Phat, where we’ll be able to have relax or have a swim. From here we continue on through lush rainforest to the nearby Million Tree Nursery, Wildlife Alliance’s rainforest regeneration project designed to protect the Cardamom Mountains rainforest from logging and slash-and-burn farming. We’ll get to walk through lush rainforest as we learn about the local regeneration program, as well as having the option of planting a tree of our own. After watching sunset from a nearby vantage point we’ll ride back for dinner and homestay in Chi Phat village. Cycle distance 12kms Overnight at homestay in Chi Phat

Meals:  B,L,D

Today we make an early start and spend the day exploring this beautiful wilderness with a motorboat ride and traditional rowboat ride along the scenic Stoeng Prat River, both of which are operated by the local CBET program. After stopping for lunch we’ll then spend the afternoon trekking through the rainforest landscapes of the Cardamom Mountains en route to Antong Prang, where we’ll stay overnight in basic cottage accommodations. If we arrive early enough, our guide will walk us to Veal Ta Prak, a nearby watering hole where we might get to see some local wildlife. Overnight in a basic cottage at Antong Prang Trekking distance 18km, approx 5 hours

Meals:  B,L,D

This morning after breakfast we’ll set off for our trek back to Chi Phat village through dense forest, stopping along the way for a picnic lunch. Back in Chi Phat, the afternoon will be free, at your leisure to relax at our homestay or head out for a bike ride or swim nearby. Overnight at homestay in Chi Phat. Trekking distance 13km, approx 4 hours

Meals:  B,L,D

Today we head back to Phnom Penh, breaking up the journey with a combination of trekking and cycling. First up we’ll trek through the lush scenery of the Cardamom Mountains, visiting the small hamlet of O’Key and stopping for a swim at the beautiful O’Malu Waterfalls. After a picnic lunch we’ll take a boat ride back to the main road where our driver will be waiting to transfer us back to Phnom Penh. We will visit S-21 genocide museum to reflect on the scar the Pol Pot regime has made upon Cambodias recent history before being transfered back to the hotel.The rest of the day will then be free at leisure to explore the city. Accommodation: River Home Hotel – Superior Room - www.riverhomehotel.com Trekking 14km, approx 4.5 hours Cycling distance: 14km, approx 1 hour

Meals:  B,L,D

Today we drive around 5 hours away to the charming small city of Battambang. Set on the tranquil Sangkae River, this elegant riverside town is blessed with a laid-back pace and some of Cambodia’s best-preserved French colonial architecture. Once in Battambang we’ll climb the 358 steps to the top of jungle-clad Phnom Banan, where we’ll explore the Angkor-era temple at the top. From here we head to Phnom Sampeou where we’ll visit the Wat Sampeou at the top, as well as the mountain’s infamous “Killing Caves”, natural limestone caves where civilians were executed by the Khmer Rouge, now a memorial site. Accommodation: Classy Hotel -Superior - www.classyhotelbattambang.com

Meals:  B,L,D

This morning we have the option of rising early to experience the busy local produce market, filled with seafood, meats, and colourful fruits and vegetables. After breakfast at our hotel, we’ll hop on our bikes and head to a nearby village known for its traditional wooden houses, where we’ll experience Khmer architecture and daily life as local families guide us through their homes and rice fields. We’ll learn about the processes involved in producing rice paper, weaving and handicrafts, as well as fish paste and other staples of Cambodian cuisine. In the afternoon we visit Wat Banan, an 11th century Khmer temple set atop Phnom Banan overlooking beautiful countryside and the Prasat Banan Vineyard—Cambodia’s only winery—where we can sample and buy some local wines. The evening is then free in town to explore Battambang’s restaurants and cafés. Cycle distance 30kms but we can extend this on the way back if the group would like to cycle around Stung Sangke River to a 50km ride. Accommodation: Classy Hotel -Superior - www.classyhotelbattambang.com

Meals:  B,L,D

Today we cycle along Siem Reap River through lush scenery past Chreav Village to Tonle Sap Lake. On arrival, you will be amazed as you kayak gently through this floating village where you will be welcomed by warming smiles from the humble Cambodian people who live on this fantastic lake. This is an excellent opportunity to see how the people of this once sleepy village live. We can observe life in the Khmer stilt villages from the banks of the river as the local fisherman count their catch and prepare it for the markets. Back on our bikes we cycle down the back roads to visit Prasat Wat Athvea Temple before returning to Siem Reap town. Cycling distance: 35km Kayaking duration: 1hour Please note: From March to July, kayaking in the Tonle Sap River may not be possible due to varying low water levels each year. We will endeavor to kayak, however we may be forced to use a local boat to visit the floating village instead. Accommodation: Angkor Holiday Hotel -Superior- www.angkorholidayhotel.com

Meals:  B,L,D

Today we drive to the beautiful Phnom Kulen (Kulen Mountain), about 60 km out of Siem Reap. Phnom Kulen is revered as Cambodia’s most sacred mountain, and is a popular pilgrimage site for Hindu and Buddhist locals on weekends and during special religious festivals. At the top of the mountain we will see statues and other relics dating back to the Khmer Empire and a small wat atop the mountain, housing a large Buddha carved from the sandstone boulder upon which the wat was built. Up here we’ll trek along scenic jungle trails leading to small hidden villages and swim in natural waterfall-fed pools. In the evening, we will visit The Phare Ponleu Selpak (PPS) NGO. Since 1998 PPS has produced numerous acts and shows that are performed all over Cambodia as well as abroad. We are introduced to their program and enjoy a revue show afterwards including live music, choreography, acrobatics, poetry and burlesque. Trekking distance: 10kms. Trekking time: 3-4 hours Accommodation: Angkor Holiday Hotel -Superior- www.angkorholidayhotel.com

Meals:  B,L,D

Today we have a full day exploring Angkor Wat and its surrounding temples on our bikes following what is known as the ‘short circuit’. In the morning, we cycle to the South Gate of Angkor Thom Temple and marvel the wonders of the eerie Bayon, Phimeanakas,the terrace of Elephants and terrace of Leper King. Afterwards, we continue to visit Ta Prohm temple, shrouded in jungle and left just it was founded by French explorers in 1850s. In the afternoon, we continue explore the Angkor Wat Temple complex. The architectural master piece was built in the 12th century, took 30 years to complete and represents the Khmer civilization at its grandest. Built in between the 9th - 13th century, its general view are five ancients towers’ figure that embroidered or printed to the Kingdom of Cambodia’s Flag now. Cycle back to our hotel. Dinner at local restaurant. Cycle: 40km Accommodation: Angkor Holiday Hotel -Superior- www.angkorholidayhotel.com

Meals:  B,L,D

Today is a free day to do some last minute shopping at the markets we return to the hotel in Siem Reap for refreshment before transferring to the airport for your flight home to Canberra, via HCMC and Sydney. Accommodation: You will have access to some rooms of the hotel to prepare for the flight. VN 812 07 OCT REP SGN 1830 1930 VN 773 07 OCT SGN SYD 2110 0950 (Arriving 07 OCT, 2017)

Meals:  B,L

Upon arriving in Sydney you transfer to the domestic airport and onto your final flight home to Canberra. Upon arriving in Canberra all services conclude yet the friendships made and lessons learned will last a lifetime. Congratulations on completing a challenging and educational service learning expedition!

Meals:  B

What's Included

  • Return QANTAS domestic flight from Canberra to Sydney including taxes and luggage
  • Return Vietnam Airlines flight from Sydney to Phnom Penh then Siem Reap to Sydney including taxes and luggage
  • All meals. 14 breakfasts, 14 lunches and 13 dinners
  • Airport transfers in Cambdoia
  • Comfortable hotel accommodation on a twin share basis
  • Simple guesthouses and local homestays on a multishare basis
  • Kayak equipment
  • 21 gear bikes
  • Support vehicle on cycling days
  • Private air conditioned mini buses with safe and reliable drivers
  • All sightseeing and entry fees as listed in the itinerary
  • Expert bilingual guide
  • Medical kit
  • Pre Departure Information kit to help you plan and prepare
  • Arrangements for Service project

What's Not Included

  • Fund Raising Target of $150.00 per student to raise money for the Community Service project
  • Travel insurance (compulsory Suresave Budget Policy 20% discount - now $112) Available from WYA
  • Bike Helmet (compulsory)
  • Visa (US$35 paid on arrival in Cambodia)
  • Tips and gratuities (not compulsory yet customary - approx US$40)
  • Meals and beverages not included in the itinerary
  • Expenditure of a personal nature such as carbonated drinks, souvenirs, laundry etc
 

AT A GLANCE

Duration:16 Days
Countries:Cambodia
Starting Point:Canberra. From 12 to 14 Students
Finishing Point:Canberra
Activities:Adventure Touring
Hiking
Cycling
Kayaking
Grade:Moderate  Click for more information
Trip Code:SOG4098