Cat Ba island in Halong Bay (Vietnam) has a lot to offer as far as trekking is concerned. The treks range from easy to difficult. I find this particularly good for trekkers because the paths are then open for people with all kinds of experience. You can pick a trail that suits you quite easily. The Cat Ba National park has one such trek which is quite easy but it does get you up high enough to look down into the thickly forested valleys.
The trek that I am talking about is the trek to the view point. The alternate trek is supposed to be more difficult and takes you to the fishing village. Just remember that if you want to do the difficult trek you need to be there bright and early.
TIMING IS EVERYTHING
The park closes at 5 pm. The closing time is particularly important depending on which trek you want to take. The fishing village takes much longer and you need to start in the morning. We reached around mid-day and we were told that we would not make it through before sundown. That’s why we had to content ourselves with trek up to the view point.
The fees include a parking fee of 5,000 VND and an entrance fee of 40,000 VND per person. You can pay this at the ticket counter at the entrance. Don’t expect a map because they don’t provide one. You will have to make do with the Cat Ba National park’s sign boards.
A TREKKING WE WILL GO….
Don’t forget your map!
I don’t know if you can really call the trek to the view point a trek. It is a series of steps that takes you up to the top. It’s very easy but it does require stamina. Don’t forget to carry water. The heat can get exhausting and you will want to stay hydrated!
The final leg of the journey requires a simple and easy climb but you do need to use your hands to maintain your balance. This was the most difficult part of the trek and it is only a small stretch of a few meters so don’t get discouraged. Most people stop and are willing to give a helping hand wherever required.
One interesting thing that I noticed was that everyone kept telling you that you were almost there. Don’t give up. It was the little motivation that I needed to keep going. Needless to say, on my way down I made sure that I passed the good deed on.
THE CAT BA NATIONAL PARK VIEWPOINTS
A bird’s eye view from the man made view point.
Did you notice that I said viewpoints and not viewpoint? This is because there are two viewpoints even though only one is popularly advertised. The first viewpoint is a tall man made structure that you climb till the top. It gives an incredible view but I kind of liked the other viewpoint better. The second viewpoint requires a short walk. Take a peek around and you will find a small path that is hidden amidst the bushes will take you there. The path is easy so don’t worry too much and it is totally worth the walk!
FINDING OUR WAY THROUGH CAT BA NATIONAL PARK
I personally loved the natural view points a lot more.
Shawn just had to take this pic. I was not quite so brave!
I think it is fair to say that all of us use Google maps but Google isn’t very helpful when you are plodding through the jungle. It doesn’t show you paths nor does it tell you how to reach your destination. There aren’t many boards that help either. So if you are doing this without a guide then take a photograph of the map that is displayed at the entrance of the path. I was immensely grateful that Shawn thought of it.
THE OTHER ATTRACTIONS OF CAT BA NATIONAL PARK
The park has a number of attractions other than the trek. A museum, a small zoo, a rehab center etc are all part of the Cat National park world. Most of the attractions were closed because we visited on a Sunday but we still got to peep at the specimens in the museum through closed doors.