Cuc Phuong National Park is in Ninh Binh Province of Vietnam. Cuc Phuong National Park is Vietnam’s largest national park and one of the most important sites for biodiversity in the country. It is homes to hundreds of species of flora and fauna. The park can be visited from Hanoi as a day trip or visitors can stay at the park’s lodging for a longer stay. Visiting the park is a terrific opportunity to get a close look at Vietnam’s nature and fees generated from tourism help protect the parks wildlife and improve the local economy. The best time of the year to visit the park is during the dry season, from November to February.
Located 120 South-West of Hanoi on 22,200 ha of rainforest, Cuc Phuong National Park is the centerpiece of Vietnam’s conservation efforts and one of the most accessible parks in the country. Vietnam’s largest and first national park, Cuc Phuong beauty and a few of its thousands of species of plants and animals can be seen with the help of a local park ranger. If you’re not interested in hiking up and down the karst mountains a good alternative is the easy but rewarding trip to the primate and turtle rehabilitation and breeding centers.
In 1960 Cuc Phuong was made into a forest reserve and in 1962 Cuc Phuong National Park was consecrated by Ho Chi Minh, who reminded the Vietnamese people that protecting the environment is protecting their future. But mankind’s relationship with Cuc Phuong began long before Ho’s visit. The remains of prehistoric man dating 7,000-12,000 years ago have been found in the numerous caves in the park. In 1789 the Quen Voi section of the park was the site of a major battle in the civil war between Nguyen Hue and Thanh Long. More recently, conflicts have emerged between the government and 2,500 Muong ethnic minority tribesmen who live, farm, and hunt in the park. In 1987, 500 Muong were relocated outside of the park. The government and international conservation groups have worked to alleviate poaching by employing locals in the park and selling Muong handicraft in gift shops.
Cuc Phuong is situated in the foothills of the northern Annamite Mountains. The park consists of verdant karst mountains and lush valleys. Elevation varies from 150 meters (500 feet) to 656 m (2,152 feet) at the summit of May Bac Mountain, or Silver Cloud Mountain. The limestone formations produced numerous caves, many of which are accessible for exploration.
Flora and fauna
Cuc Phuong is home to a huge diversity of flora and fauna. Inhabitants of the park include 97 species of mammals, most notable are the endangered langurs; 300 species of birds; 36 reptilian species; 17 species of amphibians; 11 species of fish; 2,000 species of vascular plants, and thousands of species of insects, most of whom do not bite. A number of species in the park are listed on Vietnam Red Book of endangered species.
Primates in the park include macaques, gibbon, Francois’ leaf monkey and slow loris. Other mammals including bats, porcupine, flying squirrel, small striped squirrel, belly-banded squirrel, and the rare giant black squirrel. In the past Asiatic Black-Bear bears, wild dogs, and tiger have been spotted in Cuc Phuong, but over hunting and lack of prey have jeopardized the existence of these species within the park. Leopard, clouded leopard and jungle cat may still stalk prey in Cuc Phuong.
Bird species include Bar-Backed Partridge, Scaly-Breasted Partridge, Silver Pheasant, Red Jungle Fowl, Grey Peacock-Pheasant, Laughing Thrushes, Red-Vented Barbet, Green-Eared Barbet, Scimitar-Billed Babblers, Brown Hawk Owl, Scarlet Minivet, Racket-Tailed Drongos, Racket-Tailed Magpie, White-Winged Blue Magpie. Migrant species include thrushes, flycatchers, tits, finches, pipits amongst others. Hornbills can also be spotted in the forest.
An endemic sub-species of sub-terranic cave fish is also located in the park.
Mosquitoes and leeches are present in the park, but they are not as bad as you may imagine and repellent keeps most of them away.
Flora in the park includes multi-layered canopy; trees up to 70m in height; flowers, including, orchids; ferns with amazingly tall leaves; and an abundance of lianes and cauliflory. The park also contains plants used for such practicalities as spices and medicines as well as edible fruits, nuts, and shoots