Day 1: Arrival in Ho Chi Minh
Our Cambodia and South Vietnam birding tour starts in the modern, bustling city of Ho Chi Minh city (formerly and informally named Sai Gon). Our guides will meet participants at the Airport and transfer to our hotel. Those arriving early will have the opportunity to visit the Mekong delta or Can Gio for shorebirds that might include Spoon-billed Sandpiper, “White-faced” Plover and Nordman’s Greenshank. Overnight in HCM City.
Day 2: Transfer to Da Lat
We depart Ho Chi Minh City, and travel to the delightful area around the hill station of Da Lat. We will likely arrive in late afternoon, after several stops along the way. Overnight at luxury resort Hoang Anh – Dat Xanh for a 3 nights stay.
Days 3-4: Da Lat
Da Lat is situated on a plateau at an altitude of 1475 metres, where the weather will be delightful. The region is temperate, dotted with lakes and waterfalls and surrounded by forest including various native pine woodlands. During our stay here, we explore the 2169 m Mt Langbian, cloaked with evergreen forest right up to its peak and accessible by a trail which becomes progressively steeper as the peak is reached. Here we target some very special birds - the spectacular endemic Collared Laughing-Thrush, Yellow-billed Nuthatch and the Vietnamese forms of Cutia, Rufous-winged (Black-crowned) Fulvetta and Black-throated (Grey-crowned) Tit. The elusive and handsome Green Cochoa is also here and should be vocal at this time of year, and a number of other Asian and wintering birds will also be encountered.
Nearer to Da Lat itself is Ta Nung Valley, famous for the recently re-discovered Grey-crowned Crocias which is regularly encountered here. We will look for other endemics such as Black-hooded and Orange-breasted Laughingthrushes and Vietnamese Greenfinch. Tuyen Lan Lake area supports Ashy and Mountain Bulbuls and Slender-billed Orioles, the touristy Datan La Waterfall is home to Annam’s Barbet, Mrs. Gould’s Sunbird and Vietnamese Cutia, and the Da Lat Flower Garden holds shorebirds, egrets, waterbirds and kingfishers.
Day 5 : Di Linh
Today we leave Da Lat in the afternoon for the relatively short drive to Di Linh. Certain birds can be easier to locate here at the Nui San Pass than in Da Lat; these include Blue and Rusty-naped Pittas, Spotted Forktail, White-cheeked, Black-hooded and Orange-breasted Laughing-Thrushes, Vietnamese Cutia and Black-headed Parrotbill, a probable split from the more widespread Grey-headed. Overnight in Di Linh.
Day 6: Nui San Pass and transfer to Cat Tien National Park
After an early morning return to the Nui San Pass, where we will be targetting Green Cochoa, we drive to Cat Tien National Park for a 3 night stay at Park HQ guesthouse. Overnight at Cat Tien Park.
Days 7 - 8: Cat Tien National Park
The premier National Park in South Vietnam, Cat Tien is located in Cochinchina in the Da Lat foothills and boasts an impressive mosaic of forest and seasonal wetlands which largely escaped the defoliants used in the Vietnam War. We bird by jeep track and forest trails to seek out the endemic Germain’s Peackock-Pheasant, other spectacular birds such as Siamese Fireback, Green Peafowl and Scaly-breasted Partridge, endemic Pittas, the endemic Grey-faced Tit-Babbler and a host of other species also known from Malaysia and Thailand. Overnight Cat Tien Park.
Day 9: Transfer to Siam Reap
We spend the early morning in the park, then, time permitting, we visit Tan Phu state forest en route to Ho Chi Minh City in search of the rare endemic Orange-necked Partridge. Then in late morning we drive to SGN airport for a short international fly to Siem Reap. Overnight at Apsara Holiday Hotel
Day 10: Angkor Wat
Today we visit the amazing temples and ruins of Angkor Wat and surrounding historical and cultural attractions. There will be wildlife present at the sites. Overnight at Apsara Holiday Hotel.
Day 11: Ang Trapeang Thmor
Leave Siem Reap after breakfast for a full day trip to Ang Trapeang Thmor, a nature reserve based around a reservoir dating from the Khmer Rouges era. The reserve now harbours a unique wetland set amongst grasslands, dipterocarp forest and rice fields. Ang Trapeang Thmor is an important wintering site for the endangered Eastern Sarus Crane between February and March. Other highlights of Ang Trapeang Thmor are the breeding colonies of Spot-billed Pelican and Painted Stork and often large numbers of waterfowl including Spot-billed Duck, Cotton Pygmy Goose, Garganey, Black-backed Swamphen, Pheasant-tailed and Bronze-winged Jacanas.
Overnight at Apsara Holiday Hotel.
Day 12: Tonle Sap and Preah Vihear
We start birding in Cambodia early, as we visit grasslands along the perimeter of the huge Tonle Sap in search of Bengal Florican. Large numbers of wintering migrants make these grasslands their home, especially large numbers of Eastern Marsh and Pied Harriers, and we may find water-birds including Sarus Crane, Lesser Adjutant and Painted Stork. Mid-morning will see us heading north into the remote Preah Vihear province. This province is home to some of the rarest species in south-east Asia. The landscape is dominated by open, dry savannah interspersed with extensive tracts of deciduous forest along the waterways. We arrive into our comfortable guesthouse in the mid-afternoon in time for some late afternoon birding. Overnight at Tmatboey.
Days 13-14: Tmatboey
During our two full days exploring the area surrounding Tmatboey we hope to see most target species. We walk through open forest in search of small waterholes, or ‘trapeangs’, which offer us the best chance of locating the near-mythical Giant and White-shouldered Ibises, which use these trapeangs to feed. In between visiting these waterholes good numbers of other species will be encountered, including an array of wintering passerines found in large feeding flocks. Up to sixteen species of woodpecker make this forest their home, including the spectacular Black-headed, gigantic Great Slaty and striking White-bellied. Other localised species here include Burmese Shrike, Yellow-footed Green Pigeon, Rufous-winged Buzzard, four species of prinia including the localised Brown Prinia, Blossom-headed, Red-breasted and Alexandrine Parakeets, Indochinese Cuckooshrike, Indochinese Bushlark, Golden-fronted Leafbird, Black-hooded Oriole and White-rumped Falcon. Night-birding is often productive; Spotted and Brown Wood Owls, Collared and Oriental Scops Owl, Brown Fish Owl and Spotted Owlet all being possible along with Savannah and Large-tailed Nightjars. Overnight at Tmatboey.
Day 15: Tmatboey - Kratie
After a final morning’s birding in the area around Tmatboey, searching for any missing species, we head for drive to Kratie city via Stung Treng Bridge.
Overnight at Dolphin Mekong hotel
Day 16: Mekong River
The morning will be spent aboard small boats along the Mekong River to the north of Kratie searching the small vegetated islands for the recently described Mekong Wagtail. An added attraction while searching for these birds is the small population of the critically endangered Irrawaddy Dolphin, which are resident in small numbers here, and we can hope to be entertained by several of these wonderful creatures. Other bird species could include the declining Grey-throated Sand Martin, Small Pratincole and Pied Kingfisher. Drive to Phnom Penh in the afternoon. Overnight in Phnom Penh or take evening flights back home.
Day 17: Departure
Our Cambodia & South Vietnam birding tour ends today. You can depart anytime today.