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Cat Ba National Park, Ha Long Bay, Halong Bay Overview

Cat Ba National Park is acknowledged as a biosphere reserve located in the northern part of Vietnam. The National Park is a world heritage site and is administered by the nearest city of Hai Phong. Geographically, the park is located in an archipelago which has 367 other islands adjoining the Ha Long Bay. Trekking at Cat Ba National Park is known to be an indispensable activity for enthusiastic visitors. The forested limestone view after the trek magnetizes the young crowd across the globe.

One other unique feature about the Cat Ba National Park is that it is home to the Cat Ba Langur or the white-headed langur, which is known to be a critically endangered primate and one of the rarest as well. Not only this, if you are lucky then you can come across thirty-two different mammals and seventy bird species too. Limestone karsts, waterfalls, countless streams, the conquered Ngu Lam Peak, and ancient rocks adorn the Cat Ba National Park and add to the visual treat.

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Cat Ba National Park, Ha Long Bay

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Cat Ba National Park Hike

The terrain of the Cat Ba National Park is pretty insane, and thus it provides a never-to-miss opportunity for people who love hiking and trekking. There are about four to five routes for hiking. The most popular and recommended course is by the Frog Pond- Viet hai Route which is approximately eight kilometers long. The first half of the hike involves a 100 meters uphill climb. It is a little tricky as you will have to navigate through high rising stones and some big trees. You shall complete this half of the trek within two hours.

After climbing the slope, you will find a large mass of water stretched out before your eyes. This is the Ao Ech, i.e. the Frog Pond. You can sit, relax near the pond and listen to the croaking of frogs. Know that this is the only isolated wetland in northern Vietnam. The pond is spread in an area of 3.2 hectares and is situated 80 meters above the sea level. Make sure to look into the water to experience a crystal clear view of the deep water world. The Frog Pond is 4 km from the forest gate and 4 km away from the Viet Hai fishing village.

You will also find thousands of Va Nuoc trees which cannot be found anywhere else. Enjoy the beauty of the canopy laid by these rare trees. After this, your can head to the limestone mountain cliffs. This half ought to test your strength and endurance. Amidst the hike, you will find vines interwoven along the ground. After the 8 km hike in the National Park, you will reach the Viet Hai fishing village. To get to this place, you can either take a ferry or again climb mountains as you did previously. In the end, you can get on a boat to get back to your hotel in Cat Ba.

Cat Ba National Park Viewpoints

Interestingly, there are two viewpoints at the Cat Ba National Park. To reach the two viewpoints, you need to cover the 18 km hike up to the lush green heaven. You will come across a massive number of steps everywhere in this hike. It is more of climbing the huge boulders than small steps so be prepared to save up your energy for this hike.

It can take more than one hour to reach the viewpoints. The first viewpoint provides a 360° view of the Cat Ba peaks. You can soon conquer the highest peak of the park, the Ngu Lam Peak. This is the second viewpoint which is only a five-minute extra hike from where you have reached. You will also find direction boards leading to the peak. It is at a height of 210 meters above sea level.

To reach this peak, you need to face an arduous trek as the roads become narrower and slippery as you move up. After two hours, you will reach the Ngu Lam Peak. Now you can immerse yourself in the majestic view. People find the second viewpoint more impressive than the first one because of the stunning picturesque view from the top.

Flora & Fauna

Cat Ba National Park is a center of high biodiversity value as per the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The National Park is known to be a home of several precious and rare species of plants. According to the records, there are around 745 species of plants found in the Cat Ba National Park. The ‘Cay Kim Giao’ tree is of unique presence in the National Park. It is said that the light color of this wood will turn black when in contact with anything poisonous. The National Park primarily consists of tropical rainforest and mangrove ecosystem. These two ecosystems nourish the abundant species of trees and around 102 species of seaweed existing in the surrounding.

The Cat Ba National Park has around 130 species of animals which are ‘rare’ and included in the Red Book of Vietnam and also the world. Besides this, there are 76 species recorded in the IUCN Oxford rare item and 21 endemic species. As mentioned earlier, the Cat Ba Langur is now an endemic with only 53 individuals existing in the National Park. To add in the list, there are 62 species of reptiles and amphibians which include 12 of the rare and endangered species, 155 species of native and migratory birds. In birds, the Emperor’s Cup species is included in the IUCN Red List.

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Cat Ba National Park is between April and November when the temperature does not go beyond 31 degrees Celcius and is ideal for trekking in the mountains.

How to Reach Cat Ba National Park

Cat Ba National Park is located 15 km northwest of the Cat Ba town in northern Vietnam. Due to increasing tourist activities, there have been provided several options to reach this place. Usually, tourists prefer going to the Cat Ba Island from Hai Phong city and Ha Long Bay. First, you can get to Hai Phong City by a flight, train, or shuttle bus. After this, you can get to Cat Ba Island by:

Boat: At Hai Phong city’s bus station or airport, you can get to Binh Pier by taxi. From here, you can opt for a speedboat or a hydrofoil and get to Cat Ba Island. The ticket will not cost more than VND 240,000 (INR 722).
Tan Vu Bridge: You can also opt to reach the island on your own by a car or motorbike. First, get to Got Pier by Tan Vu Bridge and then take the boat to the island. This saves quite a lot of time for the tourists. You can either take a ferry for VND 7,000 (INR 22) or a speedboat for VND 50,000 (INR 150).

The second route is from Ha Long Bay. You can get to the National Park from Ha Long Bay by Tuan Chau Ferry. This can cost between VND 60,000 to VND 360,000 (INR 180 to 1083). The last way is from Cat Ba Town. You can take a taxi or a public bus to reach the Park. If not, then you can also rent a motorbike, a private car, or a travel bus (in case of a group trip) from the car rental centers in the town.

History of Cat Ba National Park

Cat Ba National Park was established on the 31st of March, 1986. Following the decision of the then Council of Ministers of Vietnam, the park was created with a major purpose of saving the endangered Cat Ba Langur or the white-headed langur. Demand for traditional medicine, logging, and developmental activities led to the near extinction of the langurs. The number of langurs drastically fell from 2,600 to only 40 in 2003.

The National Park now covers around 263 sq km in which 173 sq km is land, and 90 sq km is inshore water. The forest includes tropical evergreen, freshwater, marine, and mangrove ecosystems. Realizing the importance of the ecosystems, this Park is not recognized nationally and internationally as a significant biosphere reserve.

Tips

1. Since the visit to the Cat Ba National Park involves a hike, it is advisable to carry enough food and water because the humidity may get on your nerves and disrupt your hike.
2. Since the journey uphill gets slippery, wearing waterproof trekking shoes is the best option.
3. Carry anti-mosquito cream and wear long-sleeved clothes as trees and insects of various kinds will surround you. You will not want to be bitten by one of them.

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