Bach Ma National Park Vietnam
Bach Ma National Park Vietnam in the Annamite Mountains is not the first place on anyone’s list for adventure travel when they think Vietnam. One reason for this is it is not near Hanoi or Saigon City. In addition, the park is 55 kilometers from Hué. Hué is a popular tourist destination, but the fact that the park is over an hour away makes it too inconvenient for most.
Since the park is not overwhelmed with visitors one needs to make an effort to get there as there are very few group tours. This can be easily done, but it will cost a little extra. Any moto-bike driver will be happy to take you there. It cost me $15.00 and surely more now to get a ride there and back. For those used to paying a $1.00 for a cab fare to pretty much anywhere this sound like a lot, but it is 110km round trip and takes the whole day.
Another option for the brave is to figure out the local bus routes as buses go near the entrance from Hué for only $2.00. The problem is the buses do not take you to the gates, so you will have to ask directions from locals once you depart from the bus. This could get tricky. On top of this Lonely Planet warns the buses are slow and arrive and depart at odd times, so I would suggest ponying up for a moto-bike ride.
Hiking Bach Ma
There is a paved walkway to the top and it is 16km straight up. One can pay another $20.00 to get driven up there or walk. I decided to walk. The first part of the walk it was so foggy I could hardly see, but at some point I emerged from the clouds and had some amazing views of the surrounding rain forest.
The flora and fauna are incredible here. There are over 330 species of birds in the park and a wide variety of mammals including tigers and leopards, but they are so rarely seen that their presence in the park is in doubt. I ran into an American couple bird watching with a guide, and they were the only other people I encountered in the park. I described a red bird that I saw and the guide consulted his book and identified it as a crimson sunbird. He showed me a picture and there was my bird.
There are a couple of short side trails that intersect the main paved road that leads to the top of Bach Ma Mountain. One reaches a waterfall that is only active during the rainy season and the other reaches a pool, which is a great place to take a dip and cool off after walking straight up a mountain.
At the top there is another side trail called the Summit Trail. It reaches an observatory with awesome panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and the rain forest below. The walk back down was much easier, but after almost 20 miles one will be exhausted.
For those that do not want to walk 20 miles in one day there are options. There are rooms available at guesthouses at the summit. Hike up to the summit one day and back down the next. A dormitory room costs less than $2.00 and camping only cost .25 cents so bring a tent. An English speaking bird guide only cost $10.00 a day, so this is a great option to learn the birds and animals from a local. All this information can be booked at the visitor’s center at the park entrance.
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