Cat Ba Natural Park & Cat Ba Biosphere Reserve
(Updated: 1/25/2019 12:30:54 AM)
Cat Ba - the pearl island is an well-known archipelago with a spectacular array of sea and island scenery. Situated to the North West of Cat Ba Island, Cat Ba Nation Park contributes to the rich flora and fauna collection of Vietnam
Location and Geography
Cat Ba - the pearl island is an well-known archipelago with a spectacular array of sea and island scenery. It covers an area of 20,000 ha in the North-East of Hai Phong, making it the biggest island out of the 366 islands on the Lan Hạ Bay. It takes about one hour by high speed hydrofoil to go to the island, or by land it is about 60 kilometres passing two ferries. Situated to the North West of Catba island, Cat Ba natural park contributes to the rich flora and fauna collection of Vietnam. The Park covers an area of 15,200 ha, including 9,800 ha of forests with splendid grottoes.
What to see and do
Right from the moment of setting foot on Cat Ba gangway, you will be carried away by the immense blue sky, flickering sight of mountains and fresh salty air from the ocean. This natural dose of massage is likely to relieve all the dizziness from your long trip.
If you are not on a package tour, make sure to call and reserve your hotel in advance, for the island accommodation facility is rather limited for the number of visitors, especially during the summer. If you can, try to get one that face the ocean and lean against the mountain.
Visiting the popular beaches of Cat Co and Cat Dua, one can enjoy the blue and warm water, and so clear that he or she can see the golden sand beneath. If you prefer something more quiet and calm, you can hire a motor boat or kayak to sail to the small islets, where there Cat Trai Gai, Duong Gianh and Hien Hao beaches are located.
The mountain adjacent to Cat Co Beach has a tunnel and several fascinating caves and grottoes, such as Hang Luon, Khe Sau, Trung Trang, Gia Luan and Kim Cuong. Unlike the well-lit caves of Halong bay, visiting these caves and grottoes give you a better feel of being an explorer or conqueror of natural wonder and mysteries.
Coming out of the caves and grottoes in late afternoon, you will be thrilled by the sunset over Lan Ha Bay. Against the background of golden horizon and the dark blue sea, the heaving islets become multiform, the white sea-gulls hover and sea-eagles make circles in the sky, an experience that you cannot afford to miss while on Cat Ba.
Biggest Gifts of Mother Nature
There are some 745 species of plants, including various species of rare wood trees such as Tri Ly, Lat Hoa, Lim Set, Gie Hoa, Kim Giao, white wood. Most notable is Kim Giao wood, the material to make chopsticks for the Kings. It is said that Kim Giao chopstick will show bubbles and turn itself into red when it touches poisoned food.
Cat Ba National Park is also home to 20 species of mammals, 69 species of birds, 20 species of reptiles and amphibians, 11 species of frogs. Many of these animals are listed in the Red Book and under tight protection. The most notable of all is Vooc (white faced monkeys), which can only be found on Cat Ba island. Another strange plant is Ma Tien fruit, an extremely toxic fruit. If a person eats Ma Tien he will die immediately, but the white-faced Vooc often survive on Ma Tien leaves and fruits.
Cat Ba Biosphere Reserve
Cat Ba Biosphere Reserve is an archipelago located in northern Viet Nam adjacent to the Ha Long Bay World Heritage site. It is internationally renowned for its limestone karst geomorphology and provides one of the best examples in the world of a fengcong and fenglin karst landscape invaded by the sea. The 366 limestone islands include landforms, caves and cave deposits that provide evidence of a long history of erosion and landscape evolution.
The Cat Ba Biosphere Reserve is considered part of the Indochinese rainforest biogeographical province. It includes tropical humid forests, wetlands, mangroves and coral reef ecosystem types. The northern coastal region of Viet Nam has a humid, tropical monsoon climate with distinct wet and dry seasons. The area suffers from a high frequency of typhoons with 28% of all typhoons impacting the Vietnamese coastline appearing in this area. There are 2,026 species found in the biosphere reserve including 199 phytoplankton, 89 zooplankton, 75 forms of seaweed, 23 types of mangrove, 160 corals, 475 zoobenthonic organisms, 119 fish, three seagrasses, 142 species of terrestrial fauna and 741 plants. Many species are endemic and rare, the most significant being the globally important Golden-headed langur (Trachypithecus poliocephalus), restricted in range to Cat Ba Island, the largest of the 366 islands, and found nowhere else in the world. The Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) found in the Cat Ba region is inscribed on the IUCN Red List, while the seahorse (Hippocampus spp.) is also rare and threatened. Mangroves and seagrasses on Cat Ba function as nurseries for life in the bay and as protective buffers for local inhabitants from storm surges and typhoons driven by climate change and sea level rise.
Cat Ba Island and its marine waters have a long history of human utilization for subsistence and cash crop agriculture, fishing, aquaculture and mariculture. Based on the evidence of archaeological remains, people have inhabited the Cat Ba area for at least 6,000 years ago. Two ethnic groups currently live in the area: the Kinh and Chinese-born Vietnamese. These ethnic groups are intermingled and not separated into different areas or communities. The main economic activities are agriculture, fishing and hunting, with tourism also functioning as a key industry. The biosphere reserve has 42 archaeological sites containing prehistoric relics with traces from the Pleistocene era. Cultural artefacts and monuments on the island of Cat Ba include the remains of the temples Cac Ba and Cac Ong, while ancient citadels of the Mac dynasty are found on Xuan Dam. A number of festivals are celebrated including the dragon-shaped boat race, the Sea God ceremony and several fishery festivals all of which constitute popular tourist attractions.
How to get there
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