Ninh Binh: Cuc Phuong National Park
Cuc Phuong National Park is one of the most chosen destinations in Ninh Binh. It is really interesting for the tourists love the nature. They can explore there a large reserve of many caves, diversity of flora, fauna and animals.
Cuc Phuong is Vietnam’s first National Park and one of the country’s largest nature reserve. This forest spans parts of Ninh Binh, Hoa Binh and Thanh Hoa province. The diversity of its fauna and flora, the beauty of its nature and its many cultural and historical features make the area an attractive destination for tourists.
Covering an area of 22,200 hectares, Cuc Phuong National Park nestles against Tam Diep mountain. Leaving national highway 12A and following a steep path for 15 km, one kilometer before the entrance to the forest, you can already breathe pure, fresh air and hear the sounds of animals. Cuc Phuong has about 2,000 plant species and 2,600 animal species, many of which are listed in the Red Book of Vietnam and the world. This is one of seven centers of great plant diversity in Vietnam.
To help tourists enjoy the wild nature, the Cuc Phuong National Park’s Center for Ecotourism and Environmental Education offers various tours. According to Luong Van Viet, a tour guide at the center, the ideal time to visit Cuc Phuong is from late autumn to early winter, between September and December. But in every season, this forest has a different beauty that deserves to be discovered. Viet says: “Summer is the season of insects, the most beautiful of which is the butterfly. In April and May, 400 different species of butterflies appear about the same time. The forest becomes a huge garden of color. Summer is also the productive time of different types of reptiles. In the evening we organize sporting tours in which tourists can hear the sounds of a variety of insects”.
Tourists can choose a one-day, two-day, or three-day tour. They can walk or cycle to the rescue center for primates and turtles, the garden for preserving valuable plant genes, ancient caves, ancient trees, and White Cloud Mountain which rises to 648m above sea level. Do Hong Hai, Director of the Center says: “Tourists are invited to follow paths in the forest leading to ancient trees and caves where traces of prehistoric men 7,500 years ago were discovered. There is a skeleton of a reptile which is between 200 and 230 million years old. This is one of earliest skeletons discovered in Southeast Asia”.
The most popular activities for tourists are camping in the forest, observing wildlife, hiking in the heart of the forest, learning about the 300 plus bird species, and boating or kayaking on Mac Lake or Yen Quang Lake. Tourists are often accompanied by a professional guide who ensures their safety. Luong Van Viet said: “Visiting the caves and sleeping in a tent in the forest are popular adventure activities, for which you must be fit enough. The organizer is responsible for tents and food. One enters the forest on deserted tracks. Depending on the weather you can sleep on top of the mountain or in the valley. At night, we go out to look for animals such as civets, squirrels and night insects”.
Cuc Phuong National Park welcomes over 10,000 visitors a year, mostly foreigners. After five hours of hiking through the forest, tourists return to the park entrance to buy souvenirs. Mr. and Mrs. Hyam are from Britain. They are delighted to have been able to observe plants and animals they had only seen on TV or in magazines. They were overjoyed to see a cobra. Ms Jacky Hyam said: “We didn’t realize there is so much you can eat in the jungle. So many foods you can eat: the leaves, the fruits, the root and water. It’s very interesting. We were fascinated that people used to live there so many years ago. How could you live there? It’s really very interesting. It’s good that there’s no light or electricity there. We had a torch and we could turn the torch off. We see how dark. It’s really worth coming to see it”.
Ruben Heimans, a Dutch tourist, says Cuc Phuong is a place of relaxation: “We saw some insects and butterflies. There are some caves. It’s a beautiful place, beautiful nature. It looks very quiet, green, a nice place to relax and to look to the nature”. The grandeur and richness of Cuc Phuong National Park makes tourists appreciate nature more and makes them more aware of their responsibility to protect its beauty.