Bushwalking in Bach Ma

Nga Do
Like any city folks, with a hope of being away from the city and in midst of nature, we went trekking to Bach Ma National Park, 40 kilometers from the center of Hue City. 

For all those who are dedicated bushwalking fans, I recommend Bach Ma as a great place to recharge the batteries and revive the spirit with fresh air, picturesque landscapes and challenging trails. It took us about two hours to travel from the city center to our mountain destination on a small tour bus. The noise of the city, the blaring horns, the construction sounds, vehicles revving - all these sent us into the mountains with a positive mindset and a great amount of anticipation.

As we learned at the national park’s information center, the area used to be a French-era hill station, reaching an altitude of 1,450 meters. Now there are virtually no remains of the old colonial structures. Nowadays it is known for eco-diversity, mild weather and splendid vistas. The winding road up to the peak offers great views of valleys, jungles, lagoons, and beaches in the distance.The bus stopped at about three-quarters of the way and then we set off to do some bushwalking. 

All we needed were light helmets, trekking shoes, some bottles of water and cameras. As the tour is for both professional and amateur trekkers, the path includes mostly mildly smooth sections, some steep ones and quite challenging stretches equipped with ropes. Our jungle trek more than met our expectations. Along the journey, we were introduced to many wild flowers and species by the local guide - a very professional young man from Hue. We were totally fascinated by the surroundings on the top of the mountain, from where we could take in a panorama of Ho Truoi Lake and Ninh Van Bay. It really satisfied our thirst for living on the edge - in this case of an impressive escarpment.

On the roof of a former French meteorological station that survived the decades, we had tea and coffee. Off towards the west we could see the mountainous border with Laos. Below us were jungle supply trails strategic in the battles of the 1970s. It was a sort of eagle’s nest and also a former helicopter landing zone. After half an hour we walked back to the bus and began our long trek that eventually led to the spectacular Do Quyen Waterfall. At the halfway point we stopped for swimming in the ice cold water and had delicious packed lunches. The pure, cold water was much more refreshing than any hotel pool.

The trek continued towards the final destination - a waterfall leaping over a sheer escarpment. Unluckily it was about to rain, so further descent was not advisable.  That did allow us to sit on the rocks and more fully appreciate what lay below and before us. We backtracked past a lone Buddhist shrine and soon were back in our tour bus, a group of fully satisfied bushwalkers from all over the world. Except for the threat of rain towards the end, it had been a perfect day - no mishaps, lovely scenery, great swimming and a really competent tour operator. We got a glimpse into the past and enjoyed the good documentation of the region’s history both at the welcome center and the weather station on the peak.

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