(No.3, Vol.9, Jun-Jul 2019 Vietnam Heritage Magazine)

Text and photos: Tran Zuy Ngoan

Pu Mat National Park belongs to Nghe An Province. At 93,113 ha, it is the only remaining primeval forest in Northern Vietnam. One of the protected zones with the highest level of biodiversity in Asia, Pu Mat is currently affirmed to have 132 animal species, including 42 large animals, the most remarkable being elephants, tigers, Vu Quang bovines, northern white cheeked gibbons, red-shanked doucs, northern pig tailed macaques, Truong Son muntjacs, and Annamite striped rabbits It has also 295 bird species, 39 bat species, 12 lizard species, 25 snake species, 23 frog species, 82 fish species, 21 turtle species and about 400 butterfly species. There are 2500 vascular plant species (among which 68 near-extinct species are listed in Vietnam’s Red List and 41 species listed in the global Red List) including precious ones such as Fujian cypress, China-fir, Chicken feather fir (Dacrycarpus imbricatus), cycads, orchids, Hopea hainanensis, and Crown Conifer (Cephalotaxus mannii).

The most special tree in Pu Mat forest is a China-fir tree growing at the mid-section of the 1600m-high Pu Xanh Luom Peak. The straight bole, over-1000-year -old tree is nearly 80m tall, has a sparse canopy and a thick trunk, 5.5m in diameter and 23m in perimeter.

Conquering the way to the China-fir tree is quite a thrilling experience in life. It is a four-day hike (or 7 days 6 nights both ways) through rapid streams and perilous mountain passes, being exposed to leeches etc. that is very exciting at the same time.

Along the hike, you are rewarded with the sight of the treasures of Pu Mat National Park. Rich,dense,vibrant flora delights the eyes. Animals call to one another and creeks murmur secrets.. From time to time, an animal as rare as a bovid runs by. One encounters mysterious caves and majestic cascading waterfalls. You can enjoy the famous Mat fish of the Giang River at Pha Lai (aka Con Cuong) Dam. Go up the Giang River to feel the divinity of great primeval forests “at the beginning of time and space.” Overcome thick vegetation and precarious paths to suddenly see the Co Phat, Bung and Con villages of the Da Lai tribe. Let your heart throb when you see the Khe Kem (a.k.a. Boc Bo, meaning a white silk ribbon) waterfall rumbling down commandingly from 500m above sea level at the kernel area of Pu Mat. From here, skirting rugged rocky passes and crossing some streams, one comes to the tops of Khe Bu, Khe Thoi and Khe Choang and sees an endless Fujian cypress forest below and the mysterious Lun Forest above. There are plenty of other things to do, such as visiting the brocade trade village of Yen Thanh, Luc Za Commune; taking a dip in the cool Nuoc Moc Creek; exploring the Oc (Tham Hoi) and Nang Man Caves; contemplating the fabled Vuc Bong Gorge and the infinitely green guava grape myrtle forest of Tuong Zuong, a masterpiece of Mother Nature.

Homeward flight

The millennium old China-fir tree


Photos taken in Feb 2014 at the Pu Mat nature conservation zone, Con Cuong District, Nghe An Province.

Phone/fax no. 038-387-3374; Email: vqgpm@hn.vnn.vn; Bilingual (Vietnamese-English) Web HomePage at: http://www.pumat.vn.

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