Most of Cat Ba Island in Vietnam is designated as national park, with jungle clad limestone karsts that are home to hundreds of species of flora and fauna, including the rarest primate species in the world: the Golden Headed Langur (Cat Ba Langur).
From Cat Ba Town you can take a lot of different tours to Cat Ba National Park where you can hike through the jungle. The longest trail is around 18km and takes all day. It was scorching hot when we were there, so we settled on a short half day tour to the park which included a stop at the Hospital Cave, and a 4km hike to the top of one of the mountains inside the park.
From the Cat Ba National Park entrance, our guide took us along a flat concrete path that leads up towards the mountains. As we started hiking, we quickly entered the jungle where the already humid air became even worse. The climb at this stage was gentle and steps made the ascent fairly easy.
The sounds of the forest surrounded us as we turned right at a fork in the trail and continued to climb. The sweat was already pouring off me when we came to a section of ladders that we had to climb up to get past some small rocky cliffs.
The climb was now becoming much steeper and the draining heat didn’t help. More ladders led us up to the final steep section near the top of the mountain. The path was now just rocks rather than dirt and steps, and the jungle was leaving us open to the scorching sun as we neared the rocky summit.
The final climb was quite exhausting, but when we finally made it to the top it was all worth it. The view was stunning and all I could see before me was an endless landscape of limestone karst mountains covered in jungle.
At the top of the mountain we were completely open to the scorching sun, so we couldn’t linger long in the heat and began our descent back down the mountain. This proved to be a lot more difficult than the climb up as the rocky steps are high and steep, and a fall could be very dangerous.
It took quite a while to make our way down to the easier parts of the trail, where steps had been put in to make the descent easier. By the time we reached the bottom I was completely drenched in sweat, and the cold drink that I bought was like a gift from heaven.
Despite the heat, our hike in Cat Ba National Park was really interesting and the view from the top was stunning. Definitely worth the effort, and we had certainly earned ourselves a beer when we got back to Cat Ba Town.