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Tonle Sap Lake - The great lake in Siem Reap, Cambodia

29-04-2020 32 Views
Tonle Sap lake is one of the most unique ecological water wonders in the world. The Lake is the largest fresh water in South East Asia. Its dimension changes depending on the monsoon and dry season. During raining season from June to October, the lake is filled by water flowing from the Mekong with 14 meters in depth and expands the surface of 10,000 square Kilometers. In dry season from November to May its size 3,000 square kilometers with two meters in depth and water flows out from the Lake to the Mekong, in and out flowing is the natural phenomenon occurrences.
In harmony with the specialized ecosystems, the human occupations at the edges of the lake is similarly distinctive - floating villages, towering stilted houses, huge fish traps, and an economy and way of life deeply intertwined with the lake, the fish, the wildlife and the cycles of rising and falling waters. There are five provinces circled the area of Tonle Sap lake, more than three million of population inhabited around the bank of the Lake and 90% of them earn a living by catching fish and making agricultures. 

90% of the population earn a living by catching fish and making agricultures
90% of the population earn a living by catching fish and making agricultures

Chong Kneas is the name of famous floating village at the edge of the lake. It locates at Southern part of Siem Reap town about 15 km, and takes only 30 minutes by vehicles to the boat dock where there are always boats waiting for visitors. The boat trip through the floating village takes approximately two hours. You will explore the different of Khmer, Muslim and Vietnamese floating households and the floating markets, fisheries, clinics, schools, basketball course, pigsty and other boatloads of tourists.

Chong Khneas floating village
Chong Khneas floating village


Flora and fauna

The flooded forest surrounding the edge of the lake is the best shelter and also very important for all kinds of fishes spawned and breeding babies. This lake providing a rich biodiversities, over 300 species of fresh water fishes, as well as snakes, crocodiles, tortoises, turtles and otters. More than 100 varieties water birds including storks, pelicans, etc.

Specifically,  The aquatic habitat provides 75% of the inland fishing catch and supports over 3 million people with food. The lake houses over 300 species of fresh water fish, 20 variety of snakes, 10 variety of turtles a crocodile species and a leopard cat species.


There is a bird sanctuary at Prek Toal, not too far from Battambang.

There are huge giant catfish here, with record of specimens up to 300 kilogrammes. This endangered speices is confined the Mekong and surrounding rivers and lakes.

A large crocodile farming industry thrives on and around Tonle Sap. The main species is the Siamese crocodile, critically endangered in the wild. The lake also provides a habitat for 13 different species of turtle.

With the continuous change of the water level, the people who live on the lake have to move their houses away when the water level goes down. Whole villages including schools, shops, churches and pig farms are getting pulled away to a place where the water is still high enough to float.


Climate

The best time to visit is the dry season, when the water level falls and the birds are concentrated in a comparatively small area, this is for whom would like to see the bird sanctuary but if you are in the purpose to see the beauty of Tonle Sap Lake, the best time to see, that would be from October to February.


Get in

The lake located about 15 km south of Siem Reap town; you can make your journey from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh by express boat or ferry crossing the lake and dock at the village of Chong Khneas. Its takes only six hours and the boat travels straight across the lake, but this trip we may recommend you during Monsoon season. In dry season the boat sometimes stuck in mud because the water is low. There are several ways to see the culture and wildlife of the lake area depending on the amount of time you have and your interest.


The passenger ferry between Battambang and Siem Reap (5 - 8 hours) crosses the north western corner of the Tonle Sap, but spends the majority of the journey on the Sangke River. It is considered by many as the best boat trip in Cambodia.

The Tonle Sap and its many floating villages can be accessed from Siem Reap, Kompong Phluk, Kompong Khleang, Phnom Penh, Kampong Chhnang, Kompong Luong, and Battambang. At all these locations on the lake, tourists are able to rent a boat and driver. Price varies, and is per person, or per boat.
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