Ba Be National ParkBac Kan, Vietnam
Ba Be National Park is located in the district of the same name, in the northwest of Bac Kan Province, about 240 km northwest of Hanoi.
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Ba Be National Park is located in the district of the same name, in the northwest of Bac Kan Province, about 240 km northwest of Hanoi. The park covers a total area of 23,000 hectares and consists of limestone mountains with unique flora and fauna. Historical sources indicate that the park was completely covered by thick forests until late in the 19th century. Botanical studies have established the presence of more than 660 botanical species, 526 faunal species, 17 species of fish, as well as many species of reptiles and birds, many of which are endemic.
Ba Be Lakes
The name Ba Be means “three lakes”, although the lake is one continuous water body, 8 km long and up to 800 m wide. At an altitude of 178 m, Ba Be is the only significant natural mountain lake in Vietnam. It is up to 29 m deep, and contains numerous small limestone islets.
The site ranges in altitude from 150 to 1,098 m. The geology of the area is predominantly limestone, with numerous rugged peaks and deep, steep-sided river valleys. The limestone karst landscape contains many caves, the largest being the 300 metre-long Phuong cave, through which the Nang river passes.
Ba Be lake is fed by the Ta Han, Nam Cuong and Cho Leng rivers, which form the above-ground hydrological system in the southern part of the national park. The lake drains into the Nang river, which flows through the north of the park. The Nang river then flows southwards, eventually meeting the Lo river in southern Tuyen Quang province, before joining the Red River west of Hanoi.
Ba Be Forest
The forest at Ba Be can be classified into two main types: limestone forest and lowland evergreen forest. The limestone forest is distributed on steep limestone slopes with shallow soil, and covers a large proportion of the national park. This forest type is dominated by Burretiodendron hsienmu and Streblus tonkinensis. Lowland evergreen forest is distributed on shallow slopes with deeper soils. This forest type has a higher tree species diversity than limestone forest and has a richer ground flora.
With regard to mammals, the site is of particular interest for the presence of the globally vulnerable Owston’s Civet Hemigalus owstoni and Francois’s Leaf Monkey Trachypithecus francoisi, although it appears that only one group of 7 to 13 Francois’s Leaf Monkeys remains.
It is highly unlikely, however, that the globally critically endangered Tonkin Snub-nosed Monkey Rhinopithecus avunculus continues to occur within the core zone of Ba Be National Park. Information from Ba Be National Park staff suggests that the species may have occurred in the north-west of the national park as recently as 1997. However, surveys by BirdLife International and Fauna & Flora International on behalf of the Creating Protected Areas for Resource Conservation Using Landscape Ecology (PARC) Project, in 2002 and 2003, provided no evidence in support of the supposition that the species remains at Ba Be.
Ba Be national park is unique amongst Vietnamese protected areas for the diversity of freshwater habitats. This is reflected to some extent in the diversity of fish species found at the site. Although recent surveys by the PARC Project have documented the existence of several endemic fish species, more work needs to be conducted in this area.
Ba Be also supports a high butterfly species richness. During surveys in 1997 and 1998, a total of 332 species were recorded at the national park, of which 22 were new records for Vietnam.
Ba Be National Park Trekking
The area of Ba Be National Park offers easy day walks and 2-3 day trekking in the jungle. We at Lotussia Travel provided private guided Ba Be national park trekking tours from Hanoi.
The most popular trekking tour is the day trek that starts from Pac Ngoi village, taking you to the Hua Ma cave, and then to the Thac Bac Silver Waterfall. The day hike finishes either in the same village or at the park rangers guesthouse where you spend one more night.
The more challenging trek is the 4-day itinerary, taking you to Cam Thuong, Ba Be Lakes, Dau Dang Waterfalls, Ban Tau village, Tua Ban village, Bo Lu village. You spend two nights at local home (homestay) before trekking back to the main road where you will be picked up again and transferred back to Hanoi.
There is another two-day trek which is even more challenging as it has lots of up and downhill climbs. You can start the tour from either Pac Ngoi village or Ba Be guest house hiking uphill to Coc Toc village, and then to Na Nghe village where you will meet up with the Dao Tien. The next day, you follow a small hiking trail, go through the forest to Nam Dai village and then Dau Dang waterfall. Then take the boat trip to get back to the main road.
When is the best time of year to go trekking in Ba Be National Park?
The best time to do trekking in Ba Be National Park is during the dry season starting from late September until mid May. During this time, October and April are the two best month for traveling, hiking in north Vietnam.
In the wet season starting from June to September, there is sometimes big rain. In other days it is hot. The temperature goes around 38 – 40 degree C outside. Moreover the humility is very high in northern Vietnam, 70 – 80%.
In case you can only come in Summer, and that you would like to do trekking, we highly recommend easy short treks that are combined with homestay, boat trips.