National park draws anglers to fisherman's paradise

14:08 | 10/04/2012

Every weekend, hundreds of people flock to U Minh Thuong National Park in the southern province of Kien Giang to go fishing for different kinds of fish far beyond their wildest dreams.

There is a long line of cars queuing up along the road that leads to the park, most of them from HCM City, 365km away.

For many people, fishing in this remote area is a way to escape from the bustle of city life and enjoy the primitive cajuput forest, where they are greeted by birdsong and chirping insects.

Proclaimed as a National Park in 2002, U Minh Thuong covers 22,918 hectares of freshwater wetlands, peat forest, seasonally inundated grasslands and swamps. The central zone of the park is surrounded by a canal and dyke system, creating an ideal environment for aquatic species.

One of the last significant peat forests remaining in Viet Nam, the park has also been recognized as one of the three highest priority sites for wetland conservation in the Mekong Delta.

U Minh Thuong is home to more than 250 species of plants and and 500 species animals, with nine species of birds that are listed in the Red Book as endangered. At least eight species of economically valuable fish have been found at the park.

In order to preserve and maintain the natural environment, tourists are only allowed to travel within a 500 hectare area of the park's central zone.

Most of the tourists like to fish under humble cajuput-wooden tents by Hoa Mai Lake which is the only place that offers food and other basic services.

Visitors pay VND40,000 for admission to the fishing grounds, which includes the loan of a fishingrod and bait.

Professional fishermen hire a wooden motor boat at VND30,000 per person to go deeper into the forest, where they can catch much bigger fish.

The number of boats is limited so tourists have to book them in advance through the park's management board.

While the boats glide through the water, visitors may see thousands of bats hanging on tree branches. If they are lucky, they may even spot some monkeys quickly fleeing deep into the jungle after catching sight of humans.

Many tourists look forward having a meal prepared with fresh fish and other indigenous vegetables right on the spot, and then lying in a hammock to enjoy the forest's tranquility.

Those who are not interested in fishing can climb to one of the several watchtowers and enjoy a panoramic view of the reserve. An immense green zone stretches as far as the eye can see, and the harmonious melody of the wind blowing and birds singing will purify and refresh anyone’s spirit.

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