April 2018. Having walked the town harbour, hung out on pretty Cat Co Cove 3 Beach, taken in the awesome views from The Cannon Fort and explored the eerie corridors of The Hospital Cave, it was time for me to tackle Cat Ba Island’s island’s main draw, the gorgeous World Heritage-stamped mountain trails of Cat Ba National Park.
April 2018. The park is home to some serious hiking trails, with various routes branching off at the end of this leafy lane. Before you set off there are a few shacks selling drinks and nibbles, plenty of grazing deer scattered across the rolling farmland, plus a somewhat sad animal enclosure housing a small collection of sick, golden-headed langurs, the world’s most endangered primate.
April 2018. Keen to cut straight to the chase for those amazing views, I took a rain check on the grueling eighteen-kilometer hike and headed up a direct one-hour trail to the park’s two big peaks. It was a humid day with light rain, so not the easiest climb at all. I found myself slipping and sliding on several occasions and swatting off the attention of all kinds of bothersome bugs.
April 2018. The first of the two summits is Ngu Lam Peak, where a gorgeous vista unfolds from the small wooden pavilion. Dropping onto one of the benches to get my breath back, I could see the park’s highest point was just another ten minutes or so up a steep, rocky path.
April 2018. Top o’ the park is a small rocky platform that can hold about ten people at a time. There are no protective rails of any kind, so you have to be careful. When I arrived there was a French group hogging the choice rocks and they showed no interest at all in giving up their spots for the growing line of patiently waiting hikers. Happily, my tolerance that day was limitless and eventually I got the platform all to myself for about ten minutes. Entrance to Cat Ba National Park is 40.000 VND (£1.30/€1.50/$1.75), while opening hours are loosely sunrise to sunset.
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