www.audleytravel.com/cambodia ?01993 838 160 ?Cambodia29Remote temples and riverbed carvingsBeng MeleaBeng Melea is a cavernous network of corridorsand towers, walls and walkways spanning a sitejust as large as Angkor Wat. At Beng Melea thejungle has not just ravaged the temple, it hasreclaimed its territory with such unabatedferocity that the result is truly atmospheric.Climbing amongst the ruins here, where fewother visitors venture, will give you an idea ofwhat it must have felt like to have been the one to first stumble upon the temples in the19th century.Kbal SpeanOtherwise known as the River of a ThousandLingas, Kbal Spean is a great diversion fromvisiting the main temples. Set on a hillside andsurrounded by jungle, you walk for about half an hour along a path randomly decorated withHindu sculptures, until you arrive at a riverwhich flows under a natural sandstone bridge.Here you will find a succession of intricate lingas and representations of Rama, Hanuman,Lakshmi, Nandi and Vishnu carved out of the riverbed.Angkor WatKbal SpeanTemples in the Angkor areaExquisite carvingsBanteay SreiBanteay Srei is one of the best preservedtemples at Angkor. Although perfectly formedand encrusted with elaborate stone carvings,what makes Banteay Srei really stand out is theincredible pink sandstone from which it is made.The best time to visit is in the late afternoon,perhaps after Beng Melea and Kbal Spean. Atthis time of day, the sandstone seems to glowwith the hues of the afternoon sun.
Phnom Kulen Temple SafariSituated a couple of hour's drive northeast of Siem Reap is Cambodia's most sacredmountain, Phnom Kulen, the seat of theancient Khmer empire. A popular pilgrimagefor Cambodian day trippers and the veryoccasional foreign visitor, Kulen National Parkoffers so much more for those open tosomething a little more intrepid. You will betaken by car into the National Park and thenbegin your trek on foot across the plateau ofthis small mountain range. You will visit PrasatRong Chen, the site from which Jayavarman IIdeclared independence from Java in 802, thusheralding the creation of the Khmer Empire. In the middle of the jungle, you will find giantrock sculptures, some as high as 3.5 metres, at Srah Damrei. The jungle is scattered withancient temples, the majority of which havenot yet been mapped. You camp overnightatop the 487 metre peak, with superb viewsover the surrounding forested plateau. On your second day, you rise to a freshlyprepared breakfast and then trek to a giantreclining Buddha at Preah Ang Thom, discovercarvings on the riverbed at a sacred spring and cool off at the end in a 35 metre highwaterfall. There is a fair amount of walkinginvolved, sometimes over rough ground, but if you are looking to get away from it all andenjoy a night under the stars in a truly exoticlocation then look no further.To the north and east of Siem Reap lieremote temples such as Koh Ker, Preah Khanand Banteay Chhmar, little visited bywesterners and accessed only by long bumpyroads through the wildest reaches ofCambodia. With no accommodation currentlyavailable the best way to see these spectaculartemples is to camp at their feet in a tent. You will enjoy the temples alone at sunriseand sunset, whilst your crew prepare tastydishes over the camp fire. This wonderful and unique experience allows yourknowledgeable guide to reveal the temples'secrets to you in isolation. Temple safaris areaccompanied by a driver and guide, whoemploy locals from nearby villages to cook and help set up the tents. The tents are designed in a similar style tothose used on mobile African safaris and arelarge enough for two free-standing beds, withseparate shower and basic toilet tents. Simplemeals are served and travel is by 4x4. Thereare several temple safari options available, buthere we detail our favourite experience basedaround Phnom Kulen.Temple Safaris30Monk, Preah VihearSafari tent, Phnom KulenPhnom Kulen