Cambodia: TONLE SAP LAKE
In the heart of Cambodia, in the Southern area of Siem Reap is the Tonle Sap Lake, named after the Khmer បឹងទន្លេសាប, (Boeung Tonle Sap) meaning "great river of fresh water", more frequently translated as "great lake". For Cambodians, it is a site of vital importance from an ecological, economic, social and cultural point of view.
A UNIQUE NATURAL PHENOMENON
The Tonle Sap serves as a regulator to the Mekong thanks to a world’s unique natural phenomenon: the water flow reverses during the year! During the dry season (from November to May) the Mekong River flows up the Tonle Sap, then during the rainy season (from June to October) the current reverses again. Indeed, the Mekong River, abundant by heavy rains and the Himalayan melting snow, surpasses that of the Tonle Sap River, which then flows into the southern sea. At this season the surface of the lake can reach 16.000km2 making it one of the biggest of the world!
A MAJOR ECOLOGICAL ASSET
Asserted as a biosphere reserve by the UNESCO since 1997, the Tonle Sap Lake is a major ecological asset for Cambodia. Indeed, the successive floods and downpours of the Great Lake gives birth to an exceptional biodiversity which is of capital importance for this small country. The Tonle Sap is home to over 300 species of fish, as well as countless reptiles and mammals. But it is also a real ornithological reserve where one can observe more than 100 different species of birds.
CAMBODIA'S FOSTER MOTHER
The Tonle Sap is a huge food reserve: it is indeed one of the most productive areas in the world ensuring food for a large part of the Cambodian population! More than three million people live around the lake and its flooded plains, more than a quarter of Cambodia's total population and 90% of them earn their living from fishing and agriculture or activities dependent of it such as market gardening or pig and poultry farming.
Most of these inhabitants live in floating villages on the lake. There are three different types of housing:
-Most frequent: houses on stilts (made of wood or palm leaves)
-Floating houses made mostly of bamboo (attached between them and movable)
-Fisherman boat houses
activities at TONLE SAP lake
wondering how you can enjoy the wonders of this beautiful lake?
Very simple: board a small traditional wooden boat!
1h, 2h, half a day or more. You can discover these famous floating villages and markets, visit the ornithological sanctuary, enjoy a relaxing moment or a dinner on board at sunset or even take the boat to Phnom Penh!