Prek Toal Biosphere Reserve
The inundated forest of Prek Toal has been designated as a core area (21,000 ha) of the Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve based on its botanical diversity and its nesting colonies of threatened waterbirds. The core area (zone 1 in the map) is in theory dedicated to biodiversity conservation but is actually intensely exploited as a commercial fishing concession. The fishing lot covers no less than 50,000 ha (red delineated area on the map) and is the most productive and lucrative of the lake with a value in fish estimated at half-million dollars per year.
Conservation and tourism activities are permitted by the leaser of the fishing concession but there is no coordination for the management of the site, resulting in unsustainable exploitation of the resources. Around the core area lie several fishing villages comprising 1200 families living in houses floating on a bamboo rafts or in houseboats, an adaptation to the ebb and flow of the lake. Over 150 types of fishing gear have been inventoried. Most impressive are large-scale fishing operations, taking place during the migration of the fish out of the flooded forest with the lake's ebb. Kilometer-long bamboo fences are raised along the lakeshore and channel the fish into huge traps. But villagers have no access to these rich fishing grounds, and conduct subsistence fishing in non-restricted areas.
Guided Ecotours organised by Osmose to the Prek Toal bird work in harmony with the Community Based Ecotourism Project supported by Osmose in the villages of Prek Toal and Pech Kantiel. Prices are from US$55 per person, depending on the itinerary and number of people visiting. The itineraries described below can be adapted to suit any requirements, whether you are an individual, a large or small group of travellers, on a corporate day out, or on a school trip. Please contact our Ecotourism Manager for further details.
If you want to:
* gain rare insights into an extraordinary way of life
* witness magnificent water birds, many of whom are threatened species
* learn about a unique ecosystem
* enjoy freshly caught and prepared food
* spend time exchanging and learning with community members in real and meaningful ways
* contribute to the social and economic development of the villages you visit
The floating villages of Prek Toal and Pech Kantiel offer four broad ways to experience, explore, exchange and expand your consciousness...
Itinerary 1 – Full Day, Bird Sanctuary and Village (October to March)
Itinerary 2 – 2 Days / Village, Overnight in a Floating Home Stay and Bird Sanctuary (October to March)
Itinerary 3 – Village and Projects (all year)
Itinerary 4 – 2 Days, Village, Projects and Home Stay (all year)
lac For information or to make a booking, contact the Ecotourism Manager. As much as possible, try to let us know when you’d like to go, how many adults and children, and which trip you’re interested in.
Please see below for a note on our fees and conditions
The Prek Toal Core Area is a seasonal home to a large number of globally threatened water birds for whom the sanctuary is the most important breeding site in all of South East Asia. They are drawn there by the mega-abundance of fish in the lake. The reason for all this abundance is the “pulse” system of the Tonle Sap Lake, whose waters rise and fall by up to 10 metres every year. The floodplains around Prek Toal and Pech Kantiel, which are dry during the dry season, are the site of a unique forest which spends the rainy season immersed in up to 10 metres of water. When the waters are high, boats float past the treetops, and visitors have a very special birds’ eye view of the water birds’ nesting sites. The floating villages were established by communities in order to more easily access the rich, fishy harvest. But, despite their proximity to such abundance, these communities suffer from poverty levels that are high even by Cambodia’s standards.
An Osmose Guide accompanies every trip booked through Osmose. Our guides are all bilingual (French, English, Chinese, or German), and have received special training from Osmose relating to the ecology, hydrology, and social/cultural aspects of life on the lake. They are knowledgeable, fun, passionate and an invaluable part of the Osmose experience.
Osmose - Prek Toal Ecotours - http://www.osmosetonlesap.net/www/english/ecovisites.php