Cuc Phuong National Park – Vietnam
With 25,000 hectares and 140 km South of Hanoi, Cuc Phuong is the first National Park of Vietnam which was established in 1962. The botanical richness of the forest is impressive as it supports a wide variety of flora species and patches of primeval forest, including ancient trees with thick clusters of roots, and parasitic plants and ligneous creepers.
Some tree species have been introduced from Burma, India, and Borneo. Clusters of orchards grow near cave entrances, where the moisture conditions and light are ideal. Varieties include thousand-year dracontomelum and parashorea trees which can be visited in a one or two hour hiking, and coral, vanilla, snow-white, and butterfly orchids everywhere. Large mammals inhabit the park including panthers and bears, but rarely appear, so the most popular animals you can see are monkeys, gibbons, flying squirrels and pheasants. There are also over 120 species of birds and many varieties of beetles living here, and April and May arrive swarms of butterflies. At night, million of cicadas create a deafening din, and million of fireflies flicker about.
Lying in a limestone area, Cuc Phuong includes numerous caves. At “Nguoi Xua” (Cave of Early Man), two ancient tombs have been discovered, along with Neolithic remains and evidence of stone implements; there have been similar finds at Trang Khuyet (Crescent Moon), Thanh Minh, and Con Mong Caves. Hang Dan Cave is known for its bat population. Hiking in Cuc Phuong is following some kilometers of trails and passing through old-growth forest with long vines wrapped around strangled trees, visiting the caves, waterfalls and streams in the forest or stopping over at a Muong ethnics village. Since the location in between three provinces, its easy to combine a trip to Cuc Phuong with a trip to Hoa Binh or Ninh Binh province, or you can depart from Hanoi, spend the whole day exploring the forest and overnight at the Parks guest house.
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