BIRDING IN CAMBODIA AND LAOS DECEMBER 2018 - JANUARY 2019
Thursday 27th December 2018
Ascent of Mount Aural, Cardamom Mountain Range
Got up at dawn to start the long climb to Mount Aural. This is the highest mountain in Cambodia, and part of the Cardamom mountain range. The target here was the endemic Cambodian Laughingthrush, and it is necessary to climb this mountain to see it.

We didn’t know what was ahead of us, which is just as well because none of us would ever have started! Our transport to the mountain trail at the bottom of the mountain 7km away, was a trailer attached to a ‘walking tractor’. After the first 100 metres we got stuck in the wet mud, and one of us was flung out from the trailer. The rest of us were sitting precariously at a 45 degree angle. We carefully got out one by one to prevent the whole thing toppling over on us. After two more hours of a bone-shaking journey, we eventually reached the area where we would begin the long walk up the mountain.

The first few kilometres walking were not too bad, a gradual ascent along rutted tracks, but we had mistakenly taken a wrong track so had to go back down and start climbing again. After we found the correct track, we continued climbing. It was getting tough now as it was quite steep, and it was getting hot. We stopped for lunch when Chea cheerfully informed us that the steep bit was actually yet to come! He was right - the next bit was horrendous. An extremely steep part about 200 metres long up a narrow dry stony track. At about 900 metres, we started to descend through some high undergrowth. We thought we were close enough to the camp, but when we looked up through a gap in the trees we could see another part of the mountain way up. "That’s where we’re going" said Chea gleefully! A small flock of Dusky Broadbills took our minds off the climb, briefly.

After about 1100 metres up we reached the camp. Or so we thought. Chea informed us that this was the ‘old’ camp, the new one is further up. At this stage we were in zombie mode, so we just kept going. At 1172 metres (3845 feet) we saw what we thought was a mirage, the building at base camp. We made it just before dark, but it was a very tough climb.
December 17th, 2018.Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom and Ta Prohm Temples
December 18th, 2018.Tonle Sap Lake
December 19th, 2018.Bengal Florican Grasslands / Tmatboey Forest
December 20th, 2018.Tmatboey Forest
December 21st, 2018.Tmatboey Forest / Boeng Toal Vulture Feeding Station
December 22nd, 2018.Boeng Toal Vulture Feeding Station / Kratie Wetlands
December 23rd, 2018.Kratie Wetlands / Kampi and Mekong River / Mondulkiri and Keo Seima
December 24th, 2018.Dak Dam Forest / Keo Seima Forest
December 25th, 2018.Jahoo Gibbon Camp, Keo Seima / Dak Dam Forest
December 26th, 2018.Drive to Mount Aural via Cambodian Tailorbird site
December 27th, 2018.Ascent of Mount Aural, Cardamom Mountain Range
December 28th, 2018.Mount Aural Forest
December 29th, 2018.Descent of Mount Aural / Drive to Pursat Grasslands
December 30th, 2018.Pursat Grasslands
December 31st, 2018.Phnom Penh, Cambodia / Vientiane, Laos
January 1st, 2019.Vientiane, Laos / Ban Na Hin
January 2nd, 2019.Ban Na Hin, Laos - Km 33 to Km 50
January 3rd, 2019.Ban Na Hin / Dragon Cave / Vietnam-Laos border
January 4th, 2019.Ban Na Hin / Vientiane
January 5th, 2019.Vientiane / Mekong River at Thailand - Laos border
Dusky Broadbill (Corydon sumatranus), Mount Aural, Cardamom Mountains, Cambodia.
Dusky Broadbill (Corydon sumatranus)
Mount Aural, Cardamom Mountains, Cambodia. December 27th, 2018.
Getting our transport ready to drive to the mountain trail at the bottom of Mount Aural (and it's not the jeep!), Cardamom Mountains, Cambodia.
Getting our transport ready to drive to the mountain trail at the bottom of Mount Aural (and it's not the jeep!)
Cardamom Mountains, Cambodia. December 27th, 2018.
Travelling on the 'walking tractor' to get to the base of Mount Aural, Mount Aural, Cambodia.
Travelling on the 'walking tractor' to get to the base of Mount Aural
Mount Aural, Cambodia. December 27th, 2018.
View of the mountains on the way up, Cardamom Mountains, Cambodia.
View of the mountains on the way up
Cardamom Mountains, Cambodia. December 27th, 2018.
Castor butterfly, Mount Aural, Cambodia.
Castor butterfly
Mount Aural, Cambodia. December 27th, 2018.