Wednesday, October 1, 2014

A summary of our Vietnam holiday

Our trip to Vietnam for fully tree weeks in february/march 2011 was a magnificent experience. The trip was mainly about seeing National Parks and beautiful beaches, and we almost made it to one hundred prosent. In short our trip was as follows:

  • Two days in the Mekong River delta
  • Three days in Cat Tien National Park
  • Two days in Da Lat highlands
  • Four days in Nha Trang city
  • Five days in Hoi An World Heritage City
This short report is a short version of our incredible travel in Vietnam, and hopefully to some inspiration if you plan to go to see Vietnam, adding some hint to the planning. 

Tha main birding took place in Tram Chim National Park in the Mekong delta, Cat Tien National Park which covers the remaining lowland rainforest in the south, and the pine woods and highlands at the Da Lat platou. Most of the birding was hard, related to woodland and rainforest, with a very good birding guide really looking for the rare and endemic birds (beyond our need infact).

Mekong delta, where the river is the main road, here with houses and a restaurant,  Vietnam 2011

To reach Tram Chim NP we used a motorized boat through channels, and did see a lot of wetland bird species. We reached a station with a tower were we got above the canopy, telescope/lenses is needed except for landscape photography! Sarus Cranes were their prime species in here, although not many left. Herons, kites, and waterbirds were in abundance.

Pied Kingfisher, Tram Chim NP, Cochinchina, Vietnam 2011

Cat Tien NP is most infamous for having the last Java Rhino of the south-asian subspesiec. Shot into pieces, probably by its caretakers, in october 2010, four month before our visit. it was permanently EXTINCT! That sain, it was just a great place. Accomodation was below western standards, but you just do not care, living in this wilderness is just great. And the birdlife was terrific. All common and rare rainforest species may be found, but it is hard work and a lot of waiting, walking or just sitting might reveal the greatest and most colorful experience.

Lowland rainforest at the edge of Cat Tien National Park, Vietnam 2011.
Green Peafowl, in late day(bad light), Cat Tien National Park, Vietnam, 2011

Da Lat platou is not a park or reserve, and some parts probably should be. But here in almost 2000 meters hight we met pine woods and highlands totally different from the rain forest/lowlands. And this is the centre of endemic species for Vietnam, due to the reason that the platou is a very isolated highland. To us most species where new, even though some where in common with the Himalayas.

Da Lat highlands, almost 2000m above sea level, Vietnam 2011
Mrs Goulds Sunbird, in pine woods, Da Lat highlands, Vietnam 2011

Our planned beach days at Nha Trang was NOT as expected. The beach is totally destroyed by building it down under roads and hotels - almost nothing left. In addition some parts of the town starts to look more like Phuket in Thailand, attracting diferent kind of tourists than us. No need to go there actually. But as we flew out of Nha Trang on our way to Hoi An, we could see the enormous beach stretching out for 20 km as it once was, with sanddunes and less people, clearly sustainable beaches for a long time!

Hoi An is actually not on the coast, but short upriver, and the beach there was totally different. Indefinitely long, with a few lodges and hotels well pulled back from the sea, as well as local small fishing villages even furter back from the beachfront. The beach is actually 30 km long - and it's easy to stay alone! In Hoi An we actually did some birding as well. We rented a boat in the city, and travelled downriver into the delta, and had great views as well as some new species added to our list. Recommended.

Cua Dai Beach, with round "fishingboats" and great waves,  5 km east of Hoi An, C Annam, Vietnam, 2011

Great Egret, Hoi An, Vietnam 2011
Our holiday was just fantastic. And their culture and people added to that experience, A strange country (one of the last communist ruled states in the world), totally commerzialized by all means! And a very friendly people

If you need any advise, please get in touch.

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