Ba Be was given the designation of National Park in 1992 in an effort to protect this stunning area of rich biodiversity and unique landscapes. As well as this, it also features as an ASEAN Heritage Park. The park itself stretches over 10,048 ha and has many different ecosystems within its borders.
The ground and surrounding mountains are made up mainly of limestone karst which is characteristic of the north of Vietnam, and the forests consist of mostly evergreen vegetation with bamboo growing closer to banks of the lake. In the heart of the park is Ba Be Lake which is the largest and highest natural freshwater lake in Vietnam. The lake is made up of three smaller lakes and surrounded by limestones karsts some of which open up into magnificent caves. The park also features many caves which have formed over years of erosion some, some of which have only been discovered recently.
Ba Be is also home to some ethnic minority communities. There is a large Tay population in Ba Be who make their living farming and fishing in the park and mostly live in traditional wooden stilt houses. This culture has been well preserved by the Tay community and can be seen throughout the park. There are also many local legends surrounding the various places throughout Ba Be which add to the magic of the park.
AREAS OF INTEREST
Puong Cave is 30m high and stretches 300 m into the base of Lung Nham Mountain. Over the years, the flow of the Nang River cut into the rock, gradually eroding the surface until it eventually broke through to the other side. The forces of erosion have also created some interesting rock formations within the cave. The craggy mouth of the cave opens up into a tranquil river with stalactites and patterned rocks overhead. From here the river flows through the cave and into Ba Be Lake.
Puong cave on Nang river
Hua Ma Cave
Hua Ma which was only opened to the public relatively recently is thought to be one of the most interesting and beautiful in the area. The legend behind the name of this cave is dark and mysterious much like its echoing caverns. Hua Ma which translates as Horse's Head refers to the story of an ancient king and his discovery of the cave. Upon approaching the cave on horseback with his men, the king's horse refused to past the mouth of the cave. The king asked the local people for an explanation, and they told him that the cave was home to lost souls who had not made it to the afterlife and whose cries could be heard echoing in the cave at night. As a way of freeing the souls, the king erected a temple and ordered his men to float horse's heads down the stream while he recited Buddhist scriptures from within the cave. If this story isn't enough to set imaginations running, then the cave itself will with its captivating display of stalactites and stalagmites whose forms echo that of magical scenes and mythical creatures. The cave is accessed by a 300-meter walk up to the entrance before descending the newly installed steps into the depth of the cavern.
Hua Ma cave on Leo Keo forest
Tham Phay or "Lo Mo" Cave
Lo Mo or Tham Phay Cave
was only recently discovered by Mr Linh himself
! He came across the undiscovered cave whilst trekking in the Hoang Tri Commune. It has a height of 40 meters and stretches roughly 3-5 km underground with two streams flowing through it. The years of erosion have created some incredible rock formations from the spikes of the stalactites and stalagmites to the smooth wave-like formations on the walls.
Tham Phay cave expedition - A river cave systerm
The Nang River
The Nang River is a tributary of a river originating in China which joins Ba Be at the north head of the lake. During the dry months, it supplies water to the lake and during the wet season, it drains the excess; this helps to maintain the lake throughout the year. Riding down the Nang by boat is one the best ways to take in the beautiful scenery of Ba Be National Park as it lined with tropical forests and karst mountains, even passing through Puong Cave at one point. The Nang is home to some species of river dwelling birds such as kingfishers, egrets and herons. The river also plays an important role in local life with people using the river for transport or planting crops along its banks.
The Nang river - Ba Be national park
Dau Dang Waterfalls
The Nang River also travels over Dau Dang Waterfall. The river cuts through the thick vegetation and flows over the large boulders which block its path creating a picturesque and refreshing scene. This site is also home to a rare species of fish known as ca chien, a type of catfish, which can grow to over 10kg in weight.
Dau Dang waterfall - the Nang's broken river
Fairy pond is a tranquil haven of still water surrounded by thickly forested cliffs. It is one of the areas steeped in local legend as it is said that it is believed that a local hunter came across some fairies bathing in the pool who cast a spell on him. The beautiful scenery does have mystical feel to it but you are more likely to spot either a local fisherman or some of the varied wildlife than the legendary fairies.
Fairy Pond - Ao Tien, a legend Fairy Pond of Tay's people
Widow's Island is another beauty spot famed for the folklore surrounding its origins. Small but beautifully formed, the island which is topped with a tangle of trees sit in the middle of the calm lake. It takes its name from a kind and courageous widow and her son who were said to have rescued the inhabitants of Ba Be from disaster. The gem-like silhouette of the island looks pleasing against the wild and craggy shapes of the mountains in the distance and makes for some great photographs.
Dao Ba Goa - Widow's island, an island house in the legend of Ba Be
Pac Ngoi Village
Pac Ngoi Village sits just off the south-east tip of Ba Be Lake. The stilt houses seem to blend effortlessly with the verdant blanket of trees which sit behind it, their wooden structures complementing rather than overpowering the scene. Here you can see the local villagers working hard during and returning to their houses in the evening to share stories over homemade food.
Pac Ngoi village - the habitation village of Tay ethnic minority
Cam Ha Village
In the north of the lake, where the Ba Be Lake meets the Nang River sits Ban Cam Village. The houses are nestled in a small valley next to the river and the local villagers can be seen fishing on the lake in their traditional dugout canoes. The narrow boats glide effortlessly along the surface of the river maintaining the peace and tranquility of the area.
Coc Toc Village
The village of the Tay people is the most pristine in Ba Be Lake. The shape of the village appeared and peeked through the forest. There are many houses of ethnic minorities. Peaceful is then the word to describe this place. The main work of the people is fishing. The people live a modest, friendly, and welcoming life. They greet their guests with food made from local ingredients. This is such a place where you can live an experience close to nature.
Bo Lu Village
Bo Lu village, where is home to the entire Tay ethnic group. The houses have their backs to the mountains and face the lake. Houses on stilts with newly built modern houses are scattered along the lake. Yet, people here still keep their fishing habits and rely on that advantage to study and develop tourism activities.