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Review of Sam Veasna Center

Sam Veasna Center
Ranked #73 of 187 things to do in Siem Reap
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Fee: Yes
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: SVC are a wildlife conservation organisation, running Cambodia's only birding and wildlife ecotours and safaris. From 1 day 'Temples and Wildlife' around Angkor Wat or the outlying temples, to 25 day epic birding and wildlife tours across the country to some of the most remote and remarkable habitats to see Cambodia's critically endangered species. From our wildlife ecolodges in the wild Northern Plains, to Gibbon spotting and jungle trekking with the indigenous Bunong in Seima, Mondulkiri every experience is custom made and totally unique. Our work in conservation and community based ecotourism gives us exclusive access to many of the Wildlife Sanctuaries and Protected Forests - taking our clients places nobody else can with the very best chance to see the incredible wildlife of The Kingdom of Wonder. Partnering with WCS Cambodia, our work directly contributes to population growth and stability of some of the world's most endangered species, a reduction in habitat loss and the stengthening of rurual economies in our communities. It gives you a chance to be part of this too.
Useful Information: Activities for older children
Reviewed April 25, 2013

I did 2 Birding Trips with the Sam Veasna Centre. The first one was a 1 day Birding Trip to Ang Trapaeng Thmor and Sarus Crane Reserve. Kunthea, the guide came by my hotel the evening before just to introduce herself and confirm the details which really impressed me and also reassured me as I had not communicated with the Centre since I had left home. Kunthea was waiting for me at 5:30 AM sharp and off we went. I was very comfortable in a SUV with Kunthea and the driver. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the sun come up and people beginning their daily activities. It was really interesting to see the non-touristic countryside. As for birds, I could not have wished for more. Thanks to Kunthea, we saw close to 50 species, a lot of them Lifers for me. After considerable effort, we also saw the Elds Deer. Kunthea was the perfect guide for me: she was incredibly passionate and really attentive, and although she hadn't been guiding for long, she was very knowledgeable and knew her birds, including all the names in English. Her English, by the way, was excellent. I had my binoculars but she also had a scope which was great. I also liked the fact that as we went along, if we came across a local who had questions, she would educate them as to why it was important to protect the birds.
When we arrived at our birding destination, we also picked up a local guide and a ranger who accompanied us in that area. This way of operating provides employment and also gets the community involved in protecting the birds. And what really impressed me was not only how knowledgeable the local guide and ranger were but also how hard they work to monitor the birds and their habitat in their area.
We stopped for a nice breakfast in the car: I had a croissant and lovely bread from the Blue Pumpkin in Siem Reap which Kunthea had picked up. I'm a difficult eater so she had arranged to have the cook at the WCS ( where we stopped for lunch) prepare a wonderful meal with vegetables and rice. Throughout the day, she would periodically check to see if I had any requests etc. It was a very long day (I got back about 6:30 PM) but an extremely satisfying one.

I also did a 1/2 day Birding Trip to the Florican Grasslands to see the Bengal Florican which was fantastic. We did manage to see a couple of males (the females, because they sit on the ground, are practically impossible to see) as well as another 18 or so bird species, half of which were Lifers for me so that was great. We again picked up a local guide as well as the community activities director and once again, they were extremely knowledgeable. They have been monitoring the area for signs of any land development that might endanger the birds and their habitat.
In addition to the birding, which I had emphasized in my emails was top priority, we did make a couple of brief stops (very brief) during each trip which enabled me to see some silk weaving and taste this really interesting sticky rice that is cooked in bamboo.
I was extremely happy to have chosen the Sam Veasna Centre. No, they're not cheap but as far as I'm concerned, my trips were worth every penny. I should also mention that a small tip is very much appreciated by the local guides in the birding areas. The meals are included in the trip price. I should also mention as well that March is a good time for birding in northern Cambodia.

I enjoyed these trips so much that I would love to return to do more, and I would definitely choose Kunthea as my guide again: for her passion, knowledge and just great company.

5  Thank HayKay1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed April 23, 2013

We scheduled a trip to Ang Trapeang Thmor (ATT) with the Sam Veasna Center (SVC) before we arrived in Cambodia. We are biologists by training and enjoy seeing new wildlife of all kinds whenever the opportunity presents itself. While there are many species to see in Siem Reap and around the temples, we wanted to devote one day to birding. The opportunity to see another part of Cambodia also appealed. Based on information from our Lonely Planet guide and reviews here, we scheduled our birding trip.

Our guide and driver were early at our hotel to retrieve us at 5:30am, and we were on our way. We saw our first birds around 0700, and we were provided breakfast while watching Sarus Cranes and Oriental Pratincoles in fallow agricultural fields. Our tour began in agricultural fields that would soon hold rice once the rains came, meandered through an area known for Eld's deer (we saw two doe), and finished up at the reservoir, where we were joined by hundreds of Cambodians in the area for the Khmer New Year.

We had our own binoculars, and our guide provided a spotting scope for better views of the cranes and Painted Storks. Mr Tharath, our guide, even helped us with some digi-scoping for more up-close photos. Both Mr. Tharath and our driver were excellent at spotting and identifying birds, and there weren't many species that we didn't get a good look at. I was able to take pictures of most things, and if ever I wanted to stop and look at something else, it was not an impossible request.

Along the way, Mr. Tharath talked about SVC and conservation efforts, which extend well beyond conserving land and conducting surveys. Successful conservation incorporates the participation of local people, and in the latter half of our trip we were joined by two apprentice bird guides from the ATT area.

Our trip concluded with a traditional Khmer lunch at the ATT office, which was both plentiful and palatable. Overall, we saw 47 species and we were very happy with this number. I would recommend a bird tour with SVC to future visitors who would like to see something of Cambodia besides temples and who are interested in using their tourist dollars towards something more fruitful than the goods at the Old Market stalls near Pub Street.

2  Thank OrnithEntom
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 24, 2013

We did the ATT day trip and thoroughly enjoyed the day. It was a really well planned trip with a very good guide who helped us to get the best from the day. Scope was provided to get good views. Highlights were of course the Saurus Cranes, but also a Pied Harrier as well as the wide range and good views of water birds. Thoroughly recommended trip, really good veggie lunch provided for us too. Not cheap but probably the best guides in Cambodia.

4  Thank owlyian
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 24, 2013

A group of 4 of use joined a Sam Veasna center bird guide for a day of birding in Feb. 2013 near to Siem Reap. Our day started at 5:30 AM with the guide and ended back in Siem Reap at about 5:30 PM. We journeyed to some wetlands at various places and some dry areas where besides birds we saw Eld's deer and a flock of about 1000 fruit bats. Our guide knew all of the birds that we saw. He was very good at keeping his eyes open for anything. We saw painted storks and milky storks that were very lovely. The breakfast of fresh fruit, croissants and bread was great. Lunch at a ranger station was excellent offering both meat dishes and vegetarian fare, beer, pop or water. The guide had a scope to find far away birds, deer or bats. Besides being guides, this center works with WWF to preserve habitat and educate people for the importance of preserving ecosystems as a whole entity. Some of the fee for the day goes to the center for this conservation. The Sam Veasna center is well worth supporting.

2  Thank rynneal
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 16, 2013

I just completed a bird tour with the assistance of the Sam Veasna Center. I was on a commercial tour that contracted with the Center. Multiple sites over 9 days. The trip was well organized, and very productive. Sophoan, our local guide was magical. A wonderful trip. I would not hesitate at all to reccomend the center for any Cambodia birding trip.

2  Thank SteveKornfeld
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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