Located a hundred kilometers southwest of Ha Noi, Cuc Phuong National Park in the easternmost part of a limestone range emanating from the Son La Plateau in northern Viet Nam. Cuc Phuong is a globally important example of a terrestrial karst ecosystem and the only remaining large area of lowland and limestone forest in northern Viet Nam. Just two hours south of Ha Noi, large shadows of the first karsts towers interrupt the reflections from the rice fields, signaling Cuc Phuong’s proximity.
In the spring, millions of white and yellow migrating butterflies surround visitors as soon as they enter the park. The eco-tourist’s destination should always be the Primate Rescue Centre and a conversation with staff members about their efforts to rescue Viet Nam’s most fascinating primates from the wildlife trade. Extinction threatens most langurs and gibbons; Cuc Phuong is the only place to see them without spending weeks in the forest. Gibbons call from a fenced hill. Across the path, Fauna & Flora International (FFI) and Education for Nature – Viet Nam (ENV), a Vietnamese non-governmental organization, have project offices to help the national park develop Viet Nam’s first park centre for visitors. Staff members there will introduce visitors to Cuc Phuong’s unique karsts eco-systems, including fauna and flora.
In the afternoon, visitors can take a walk on a marked, two-hour trail to see Cuc Phuong’s giant trees in a rare stand of primary tropical forest. An incredible diversity of trees, lianas, and ferns overgrows the karsts. An important archaeological site, which was a home of early man, is also home to seventeen species of bats. Visitors can watch endangered Owston’s palm civits, which are nocturnal, search for insects in their spacious enclosure at FFI’s small civit conservation facility. Some civits have successfully bred in captivity. It is a special pleasure to watch the baby civits.
Visitors who stay overnight can go birding in the morning chill at 6 A.M and might see bar-bellied Pitta birds and trogons just beyond the park gates. Silver pheasants and jungle fowl are plentiful. On the way home, travelers can turn left to visit Van Long, a small limestone outcrop surrounded by a wetland just before the function with Highway 1. Local villagers will row visitors in small boats so that they can come close to the rock. In addition, they can see Delacour’s langurs, a critically endangered primate endemic to the Cuc Phuong – Pu Luong Limestone Range. Protected by local people, the langurs cavort in the late afternoon as tourists watch.
(Source: Vietnamese Culture Book – Hữu Ngọc and Lady Borton Authors)