We organised the tour to Cambodia with SeeAsiaDiffernetly.com and adding in the Gibbon Spotting was an integral part of our visit. We have been to see various different animals in various places across the globe.
This was special, and something we will always remember. We left the hotel in the morning after selecting and sorting our mountain bikes to attach to the back of the car. Off to the river and we took a tour around the river to various villages in a small boat which sits low in the water and you have begun your journey to the jungle. We arrive at the side of the river and get on our bikes to cycle to the research centre in the middle of the jungle. Word of warning here you should be aware that cycling in the gym is nothing compared to this - this is real off road cycling through sand, road with potholes big enough to swallow a car!! thankfully for those of us with mobility issues can still partake by sharing a moto with a guide.
The ride is at your own pace and there are stops to visit a couple of indigenous villages en route. Great as you find out about local life a little and get a chance to reshape your lower bottom (lol). Arrival at the research centre is surprising as it is in the middle of nowhere and is a a collection of stilted building surrounded by a fence to keep out the wild life. They have recently built a new building in which you have the option of staying. Two sleeping option a hammock or the floor of the new building with a mattress and mosquito net. We opted for the later and slept like babies maybe something to do with the exercise. Our guides brought all we needed with us and food etc was great. There is a shower which might have hot water if you feel the need to wash all the dust from the day away.
After dinner we headed out to the jungle on foot to see what could be seen. It was amazing this far from main roads and regular civilisation and you could still here the chainsaws of illegal logging. Anyone using a chainsaw at 1am in the morning is not working legally! We did not see much and I think this is indicative of persons in the jungle moving the animals further away but we did see a flying squirrel a first for us!
The next morning after a cup of coffee and a wake up call by cockerels at 4am we headed of on our bikes across paddy fields to start our Gibbon trek. We arrived at an area where we would wait and this we did before sent of at a run (and I mean run) to follow the sound of the gibbons singing. Dawn is just coming up and the guides run ahead as they try to locate the gibbons we bring up the rear and we stand and wait as we try to be more specific about where the sound is coming from and wait for the first sighting. It doesn't take long, they start moving among the tree tops and we follow them trying to see them. It is amazing the ability with which they move with ease and we fight with jungle.. We try to take photographs but they move so fast going around their territory and searching for their favourite trees for food. It is wonderful even though the jungle takes it's toll on your arms and legs, scratches abound but we get to see them and manage to get a couple of decent photos. We can tell the difference between the male and female and even get to see the baby clinging to it mother. It is wonderful when the meet the neighbouring Douc group of monkeys and push them back to their own territory. The noises and movement was fantastic and exciting.
When the activity of the gibbons starts to slow down we move back towards the edge of the jungle and make our way back to the research centre for breakfast. We discussed all we had seen and experienced, I thought we would see them and just sit there but we moved around with them and followed then around the jungle for around 4 hours, it was only as we came out we knew that we had been with them for so long. It is a dream come true to follow them in their natural environment and have them being so tolerant of the noise we made as we followed them around.
The guys in the research centre are fantastic living as they do and I take my hats of to those guys studying for their pHd's etc they are fantastic and so lucky to be studying these wonderful animals. But more than this they took the time to tell us about the various members of the group and give us a little insight into their habits. Thanks for letting us share this experience.
It is an amazing experience and is something that both primates will be struggling to share with us if the deforestation in the area continues unchecked. In fact the rate it is happening across the country is heartbreaking. We say this as we moved around the country and the lorries with logs heading out of the country was phenomenal, we probably saw more lorries of logs than any other thing in lorries whig is something in an agricultural area.
Would I recommend you go? Yes if you are regular healthy and fit with a decent level of mobility. You will experience something you will hold in your heart forever and tell your children because in a few years time, I reckon this special place will be lost to the loggers and their lorries.