Often when we plan to get out of the city, we look to the coast. It makes sense. The city is so congested and filled with so much pollution which leaves plenty of us city dwellers feeling pretty claustrophobic. A sea breeze always seems like the perfect antidote.
But if you’re tired of hitting the same old beaches or want to get in touch with Mother Nature, the Madagui forest comes highly recommended.
Halfway between Ho Chi Minh City and Dalat the forest is slowly emerging as a retreat for people in search of cool country air, who either don’t have time to make it to Dalat or are just looking for somewhere new.
The forest is nearly three hours from
the southern hub, but the long bus trip is soon forgotten as I step
into the primeval wonder of my surroundings.
Just like Dalat, Madagui forest boasts a fresh and cool climate and is also home to some breathtaking landscapes. Streams, rivers, caves and a rich, diversified primeval forest make for a nature lover’s paradise.
The diversified ecosystem includes rare and valuable plant species, ancient trees that are hundreds of years old as well as a number of endangered animals.
“This is not just a place to refresh
your mind but also a place to explore nature as well,” says Julie
Debenham a visitor to Vietnam from the US.
The forest is populated largely by the K’ho and Ma ethnic groups and is part of Cat Tien Park, an ecological preserve covering about 400ha, in Lam Dong province.
Visitors can stay at the Madagui Forest
Resort, which is located right at the foot of Deo Chuoi (Banana Pass).
The resort stays to true to its surroundings with a natural ambiance
but also boasts all the modern facilities you need for a comfortable
Guests can entertain themselves with horse riding, fishing, cycling, cave exploration or rafting on the river. The resort also has tennis courts, billiard tables, karaoke rooms, a sauna and massage services available, but personally I’m not here to sit inside!
Instead I wander up to the caves, under
the shade of the tropical rain forest. The views are a photographer’s
dream. The path to the Voi (Elephant) Stream is also stunning and much
to everyone’s delight at the top there’s a secluded spot to bathe.
If you’ve walked all the way up there, you can treat yourself to a well-deserved foot massage for VND50,000 (45 minutes) right by the stream.
For those who want to head to the hills
beyond, you can rent a jeep, while those looking to camp out can do so
in Tarzan-style-houses which have been built in the trees or in tents
next to Tien Stream. Legend has it that the fairies would bathe in this
stream there on full-moon nights and perhaps they still do (there’s
only one way to find out!).
But a rumbling stomach tells me I should head back down to check out what the restaurants Muong Xanh and Tra My have on offer.
After dinner we will join the local community for a campfire under a canopy of stars and the thought of traffic jams in the city will seem a lifetime away.
|The unique churches of Da Lat|
|Wandering in Dalat City|
|Into the wilds|
|The legend behind Darahoa’s massive rooster|
|Dankia in Dalat attracting tourism investors|
|Exploring night market in Dalat City Vietnam|
|Dalat tours www.mekongtours.biz|
|Tripping through the four seasons|
|Da Lat - City of Eternal Spring|