Take a walk on the wild side of Cambodia and journey into the wondrous Prek Toal Bird Sanctuary, where amateur and seasoned birdwatchers alike will delight in espying an astonishing array of bird species – some quite rare – going about life in their natural aquatic habitat. It’s a wonderful change of scenery when you’re ready to take a break from the temples of Angkor.
The Prek Toal Bird Sanctuary is one of three biospheres on Tonlé Sap Great Lake, and access to the sanctuary is by boat. Here, nature lovers will relish the opportunity to see a number of waterbird colonies, including spot-billed pelicans, herons, milky storks, cormorants, egrets and black-headed ibis nesting, socialising and feeding. In all, more than 150 species of birds have been sighted here. The flooded freshwater forest environment of the sanctuary is a precious natural habitat for a number of endangered birds and is considered the most significant breeding ground for threatened waterbird species in all of South-East Asia.
While exploring the sanctuary and surrounds, visitors will also get the unique opportunity to see authentic floating fishing villages and watch the friendly fishing families go about their day. The best time to visit Prek Toal Bird Sanctuary is during the dry season (December through April). This is when the birdlife is at its most abundant.
Although you can make your own way to the sanctuary, the best way is through a specialised organised ecotour departing from Siem Reap. Full-day tours to the flooded forest sanctuary typically set off bright and early in the morning (prime bird-viewing time) and will take you by car then boat to the nature reserve. Here, you’ll enjoy prime access to all of the best viewing areas, including a treetop observation platform, for a thrilling birdwatching experience matched with gorgeous panoramic views.