Koh Ker is approximately 2 hours drive east of Siem Reap on the way to Tmatboey. It is a stunning and unique pyramidal temple built in 931AD, strikingly reminiscent of the structures built by the Central American Maya. Not only is the appearance unique but also the history, as this was the location that became the capital of the Khmer Empire away from the Angkor area for the only time in an otherwise uninterrupted 500 years.
It is situated in dry deciduous forest with some semi-evergreen forest and so also has an excellent range of birds, potentially including Black-headed and White-bellied Woodpecker, Velvet-fronted and Neglected Nuthatch, Rufous-winged Buzzard and Indochinese Bushlark. In addition our guides know the location of several pairs of the excellent White-rumped Pygmy-falcon (above), a key species to see while in Cambodia, and when searching for these you should also encounter the endearing Collared Falconet.
It is possible to combine a visit to Koh Ker with a visit to the fabulous ruined temple of Beng Melea, which is about half an hour back towards Siem Reap. Not only is this large temple thought of as almost the blueprint for Angkor Wat, being virtually the same layout if a bit smaller, it also contains good semi-evergreen forest. This gives the birder a chance to pick up some migrants from the Himalaya during December – March, often including the difficult to connect with White-throated Rock-thrush.