Thứ Năm, 1 tháng 10, 2015

Around Ca Mau

U-Minh Forest
The town of Ca Mau borders the U-Minh Forest (admission 10,000d; 6am-5pm, closed Mar-May), a vast mangrove jungle which covers 1000 sq km of Ca Mau and Kien Giang provinces. Residents make use of  certain species of mangrove  as a source of timber, charcoal, thatch and tannin.

When  being an important habitat for waterfowl, the U-Minh Forest – the  largest mangrove jungle all over the world beyond the Amazon basin – which was a favourite hideout for the VC during the American War. The Americans responded with chemical de foliation, causing enormous damage to the jungles. The heavy rainfall slowly washed the dioxin out to sea and the forest is returning. People have also planted many eucalptus trees  because  they have proved to be relatively dioxin-resistant.

Unfortunately the mangrove forests are being further destroyed by clearing for shrimp-farming ponds, charcoal production and woodchipping, though the government has tried to limit these activities. In 2002 an area of 80 sq km was preserved as U Minh Thuong (Upper U-Minh) National Park.

The forest is  famous  for its birdlife, and  visitors  will  enjoy a boat trip around Ca Mau, though  the feathered flocks aren’t nearly as common as the swarms of mosquitoes. Thirty-minute boat trips around the forest cost 100,000d.

Ca Mau Tourist can arrange  a boat tour for around US0, but  try to find better deals with locals down at the ferry pier at which  you can get a speedboat to Thu Bay (two hours), followed by a motorbike to U-Minh Forest for 70,000d.

Ca Mau Nature Reserve
Sometimes  known as  Ngoc Hien Bird Sanctuary, these 130 hectares form one of the least developed and most protected parts of the Mekong Delta region. Shrimp farming is banned  here. Access is by boat.