About the challenge
Lying in the heart of old Indochina, the small country of Cambodia is home to dazzling green rice-paddies and jungle dotted with temples and ruins, villages of thatched stilted houses, and small towns where Buddhist temples nestle amongst graceful French colonial buildings. Our adventure starts in Siem Reap, ideally situated to explore the ancient capital of the mighty Khmer Empire. Our trek takes us off the beaten track, through paddy-fields, dense forest and villages little-changed for centuries to the Sacred Phnom Kulen - the highest point for miles at 487m.This is a hot and dusty challenge but our finish point at Angkor Wat, one of the most impressive sights in South-East Asia, will reward your efforts.
Day 1: Depart London for Siem Reap
Day 2: Siem Reap
We arrive in Siem Reap and check in to our hotel, where we can relax or take time to explore this busy, fascinating town and enjoy our first glimpse of the local culture. Night hotel.
Day 3: Siem Reap – Pagoda
Trek approx 5-6 hours; 16km
After breakfast and a detailed trip briefing, we take a short transfer out of town and begin our trek. Heading out south-east across dazzling green rice-paddies and farmland, we pass through several small villages. Cambodia is one of the friendliest countries in South-East Asia and we will get plenty of smiles and waves as we pass! We’re never far from a temple or pagoda, and we make time to stop at a couple for a closer look. After a lunch-break in one of the villages, we continue our trek through rice fields and green pastures, now heading north to the pagoda and our camp. Night camp.
Day 4: Pagoda – Wat Preash Bat Bun Tham
Trek approx 8-9 hours; 22km
After a delicious breakfast at camp, we start our day’s trek along small dirt roads before turning off into scrub and brushland. It’s a long day today, and we gradually wind our way northwards towards our evening’s pagoda camp. Night camp.
Day 5: Wat Preash Bat Bun Tham – Beng Mealea – Svay Leu
Trek approx 7-8 hours; 20km
Today’s route sees us heading towards Phnom Kulen, though we won’t reach this low mountain until tomorrow. We veer right after passing a small village and head out across the paddy-fields, where we are treated to fabulous views of Phnom Kulen in the distance. Following cow-cart tracks, we wind our way towards Beng Mealea and the fascinating ruins of this little-visited temple. We have the opportunity to explore before taking a short transfer to our evening’s campsite at Svay Leu Pagoda. There is often a lively local market near the pagoda, which we should have time to explore – a real insight into the way of life in this remote area. Night camp.
Day 6: Svay Leu – Phnom Kulen
Trek approx 7-8 hrs; 19km
After an energising breakfast we set off on a challenging haul to the top of Phnom Kulen (487m), Cambodia’s sacred mountain and the highest point for miles around. Deeply revered, the local people make pilgrimages to the pagodas and ruins on the mountain top. The mountain forms a high plateau, from where there are fabulous views across the forests and fields below. We head west across the mountain, taking undulating tracks through the forests and villages. We stop for lunch in Anlong Thom, a small village of stilted thatched houses. Our trek continues to the ‘Big Buddha’, which overlooks the central plain; a short distance on is a very picturesque waterfall. We may have time to bathe in the ‘River of 1000 Lingas’ and admire the elaborate carvings in the riverbed itself. Night camp.
Day 7: Phnom Kulen – School Village
Trek approx 6-7 hrs; 20km
After a hearty breakfast, we set off on an old trail, now little-used since the recent construction of a road. We may meet a few local people who still use the path for hunting, cutting lianas and to get to work on the farms higher in the hills. Our trek continues south-east on a small jungly trail down the mountain. Back on the flat plains, we continue our trek on sandy, sometimes muddy tracks. There is little shade as we pass a few villages, local schools and an abundance of pagodas. We will be hot and tired by the time we reach our evening’s campsite, our final goal nearly within reach. Night camp.
Day 8: School – Angkor Thom – Angkor Wat
Trek approx 2-3 hrs; 10-12km
Our last day of trekking today, and after a hearty breakfast we set off on the final 10km of our trek to Angkor Wat. The first section of our trek is on a tarmac road; we then return to cow-cart tracks which lead us towards the Angkor temple complex. We reach Prasat Ta Som, the first of our Angkor temples, and then load up into the local mode of transport and journey in style to Angkor Wat in a colourful procession of tuk tuks. We pass many temples and ruins as we near our goal – the spectacular walled city of Angkor Thom and the famous Bayon, standing in the exact heart of the city. Adorned with fabulous wall carvings and mysterious giant faces, the Bayon is a real highlight of our challenge. We then continue to the magnificent 12th Century Angkor Wat. It is worth climbing the remarkably steep and narrow steps of the central spire for the unparalleled view over the whole temple. We are free to explore the temple complex until sunset, when we transfer to our hotel by bus. After a refreshing shower, we celebrate our huge achievement with a celebration dinner at a local restaurant, where we’ll be able to enjoy a traditional dance show. Night hotel. (Dinner not included)
Day 9: Siem Reap; Flight departs
Free time to explore Siem Reap and visit more of the Temples of Angkor at your leisure. The temple of Ta Prohm is well worth exploring; left to be reclaimed by nature, it features incredible tree roots breaking through the stone carvings and walls – a fascinating tribute to the power of nature over man and an experience reminiscent of ‘Indiana Jones’ and ‘Tomb Raider.’ Save a little time for some last-minute shopping or a relaxing Cambodian-style massage before transferring to the airport in time for our flight home. (Lunch and Dinner not included)
Day 10: Arrive UK
Discover Adventure reserves the right to change the route or itinerary for safety reasons should local conditions dictate.
All accommodation is included as well as all flights and transport; camping equipment (except sleeping bacg and sleeping mat); all meals except three as specified in the itinerary; entrance fees to the main temples visited as part of the itinerary. Experienced Discover Adventure leaders and doctor (depending on final group size) are also included, along with a local support crew of guides, cooks, vehicles/carts and drivers.
It does not include personal travel insurance, airline fuel supplement if charged by the airline, (capped at £200 by Discover Adventure), three meals as specified, tip for local crew, or international departure tax (if applicable). It also does not include any entrance fees to any optional sites or attractions, including the minor temple sites we pass during the trek. Remember to allow extra for drinks, souvenirs and other personal expenses. lease note that costs may fluctuate and we have no control over any changes. We strongly recommend you carry a credit card in case of personal emergency.
Group flights leave from London Heathrow or Gatwick, (we regret that we are unable to book connecting flights), and are booked through Discover Adventure Ltd under ATOL licence 5636. By travelling with Discover Adventure you are protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are most likely to fly with Malaysian or Korean Airlines, however, we don’t always fly with the same airline so this is a guideline only. You will usually receive confirmed flight details several months before departure. Our itineraries are always based on current flight schedules and are therefore subject to change by the airline. If you prefer to book your own flights please ask us for a land-only cost.
We camp while trekking, usually in two-man tents. Our campsites are often in the grounds of wats (pagodas), allowing a glimpse into the lives of the resident Buddhist monks or nuns. The hotel in Siem Reap is clean and comfortable with private facilities, but please do not expect the same standards as you would in a tourist hotel in the UK!
All food is included when trekking. Breakfasts are good and there is always a very generous lunch and dinner. Three meals as detailed in itinerary are not included.
Being vegetarian or having other dietary requirements is not usually a problem provided you let us know well in advance. Please do not expect as much variety as you would have access to at home – we will be in rural areas and among people of a different culture who may not understand your requirements, however willing they are to help. If you know there are plenty of foods you cannot eat you may wish to bring extra snacks from home so you can top up your energy supply. Any meals not included are listed in the itinerary and are generally when we are in towns or cities and you are free to explore and try other culinary experiences! There is always something to suit every budget.
Discover Adventure Crew
Your trip will be led by experienced Discover Adventure leaders. Our leaders are selected for their experience in harsh wilderness environments, knowledge of travel in remote areas, friendliness and approachability, sense of humour and ability to safely and effectively deal with any situation that arises. You are in very safe hands with a Discover Adventure leader.
All our leaders are from the UK or other English-speaking countries. Most work for us on an ad-hoc basis and have ‘real’ jobs in-between trips! We never send our leaders to the same destination for months on end – we want them to be as enthusiastic about your trip as you are. Although our leaders are trained in expedition first-aid, they are accompanied by an expedition doctor or medic (dependent on group size), who is there to look after the well-being of the whole group and deal with any incidents. They help the leaders to ensure the trip runs smoothly and encourage you when things get tough. The number of crew looking after you will depend on the final size of your group, but an average-sized group in Cambodia would be led by two leaders and a doctor. At Discover Adventure we pride ourselves on our high leader: trekker ratio and believe it leads to greater trip enjoyment as well as excellent trip safety.
Local Support Crew
Our local support crew is made up of local guides, drivers and cooks. Your local guide knows the local area well, and is a great source of knowledge about local customs and lifestyles. Drivers and cooks do not always speak English but are very friendly and approachable. The Discover Adventure crew work closely with the local crew to ensure your trip runs smoothly and safely. Your leader will arrange a collection of tips for the local support crew at the end of your trek. Tipping is not obligatory, but once you see how hard they work on your behalf you will be happy to donate something! See the ‘Costs’ section above for a guideline amount; your leader will let you know if there is any change to this guideline. All our local crew are paid wages, but bear in mind that the average wage in this country is far below what you would spend on a normal night out.
Vehicles support the group through the trek, and carry all luggage, food, water and camping equipment; at times our daily supplies are carried by cow-carts. Space is limited and hard-sided luggage is not suitable, so it is essential that your kit is packed in a soft sailing bag, rucksack or expedition kitbag. Ask us about our specially-designed low-cost kitbags if you don’t have one already. You should also bring a small daypack to carry for items needed during the day as you will not have access to your main luggage until the evening.
Your safety, and that of the rest of the group, is our highest priority. Our trips are designed and planned with safety in mind. Your crew will be equipped with radios and emergency satellite phones, extensive medical kit and other safety apparatus where necessary. They always have access to our 24-hour emergency back-up in the UK. Our leaders are responsible for safety on the trip, and will make any changes to the itinerary they deem necessary should local conditions dictate.
Preparing for the challenge
The terrain varies from narrow dusty or sandy trails to wide gravel tracks and small roads. Some paths may be muddy and slippery after rainfall. Some days are hillier than others, but the trek is predominantly flat with long distances in hot, dusty conditions. We trek through farmland, rice paddies, and dense jungly forests. Much of the area we trek through is remote, with very few good roads, though we are never far from small villages and local rural life. Because of Cambodia’s recent past, much of the countryside was heavily land-mined. The areas we trek through have been cleared, but caution should still be exercised when walking through dense undergrowth – stay on the paths! You will trek approximately 108km on this trip overall. Please note that daily distances are approximate. Because of the varied terrain and lack of accurate maps, it’s impossible to give accurate daily distances. It’s also much more useful when training to think about the hours you need to walk for, and the conditions you’ll be doing it in! We are always happy to talk through the trip in more detail with you if you are worried about your fitness at any stage.
Clothing & Equipment
We provide you with a detailed packing kit-list on registration, as well as details on useful discounts you are entitled to as a Discover Adventure customer. We are always available if you need advice.
It can be very hot and humid, even at higher elevations, and the sun is very strong. This will add to the challenge of the event!
Our challenges attract people of all levels of experience and fitness, all ages and backgrounds. We expect all participants to train hard in advance to achieve this challenge, but we respect everyone’s limits. We design our challenges so that everyone can go at their own pace: this is not a race. For logistical and safety reasons we sometimes need to re-group, so the front-runners will find themselves waiting for the slower ones. Please relax, and remember that this is a team effort that enables people to achieve their personal goals and earn sponsorship.
Passport & Visa
A valid ten-year passport is required and must be valid for at least 6 months after arrival into Cambodia. Visas are required for British passport-holders (and most other nationalities) and can be obtained in advance or on arrival with one passport-sized photo and US$20 cash (at current time of writing). Other nationalities should check entry requirements.
We insist that you have had a Tetanus injection in the past ten years, and highly recommend protection against Polio, Hepatitis A and Typhoid. A Yellow Fever certificate is required only if coming from an infected area. We also recommend malaria prophylactics. You should always check with your GP or travel clinic for up-to-date travel health advice as it does change.
For most people, the main attraction of travelling to a different country is to see new sights and enjoy new experiences. Sometimes those new experiences can make life harder or more inconvenient than you may like, such as toilet hygiene or different food, or simply a different attitude to solving problems. This is all part of the challenge you are signing up for! We are very privileged to live in a country with a high standard of living, and travelling exposes us to different challenges – all of which help broaden our horizons. We can guarantee that coming face-to-face with experiences outside your normal ‘comfort zone’ will help you bond with your fellow trekkers and provide you with plenty of things to laugh about! A sense of humour and sense of adventure are two of the most important things to bring with you!
Worldwide Sustainable Tourism
Long before ‘Responsible Tourism’ became a recognised phrase, we designed and ran our trips to ensure they made minimum impact on the environment and a positive impact on the local communities we pass through.
Discover Adventure Projects
We are supporting a tree-planting project in Peru and a children’s home in Tanzania on a long-term basis. If you would like to ‘give something back’ please consider donating £5 to our projects when you sign up.
We encourage all our customers to offset emissions connected with their trip. You can offset at any time in the lead-up to departure by visiting Climate Care via our website and making a donation to a worthwhile project supported by them. Alternatively, if you wish to take more practical action in the UK you can volunteer for a day with The Conservation Volunteers and work on an environmental project local to you. Work may include construction footpaths, dry stone walling, creating wildlife habitats or planting trees in your community. Volunteer today at www.tcv.org.uk or call 01302 388883.