TK 06: CAO BANG TREKKING
is one of the finest hill tribe treks on offer. An unparalleled
opportunity to appreciate the village culture and follow mountain
trails that lead deep into the forested highlands of north-
eastern Vietnam. The area in which we trek is close by the
Chinese border and receives very few foreign visitors. The
cultural identity of the people here has remained largely
unchanged by the twenty first century. Starting in Hanoi we
journey north stopping at the spectacular Ba Be National Park
with its lush forests, gushing waterfalls and towering peaks.
The area around Ba Be Lake is home to the Dao minority and
the source of legend and folklore ever since people first
settled here. We can enjoy swimming and a boat trip on the
lake before heading to Pac Po
where Ho Chi Minh lived upon his return to Vietnam after 30
years abroad. Once in the hills we venture well beyond the
shorter tourist trails and visit a diversity of ethnic groups
not far from the Chinese border. The majority of this trip
will be spent on a very adventurous 8-day trek through mountainous
rainforest areas. We cover between 15 - 25 km a day and stay
overnight in homes of the local hill tribe people. This is
a truly authentic journey immersing you in the local culture
DAY 1: ARRIVE HANOI
arrival at Hanoi airport your guide will accompany you to
your hotel and assist with your check-in procedures. Whilst
there are no activities planned for today, your guide will
be on hand to offer any advice and assistance regarding your
free time, and this evening will take you out to dinner at
one of Hanois superb restaurants.
DAY 2: HANOI
we have a tour of the city's highlights including the Temple
of Literature, site of Vietnam's first university, dating
back to the 11th century. The temple is dedicated to one of
the world's most famous scholars, Confucius. Inside the temple
grounds huge stone stele rest on the backs of even larger
stone turtles (in Vietnamese culture the turtle represents
longevity). The stele recorded the names of the successful
candidates who would later go on to become mandarins in the
Emperor's court. We also visit The Ngoc Son Temple on Hoan
Kiem Lake and the vibrant Old Quarter. The Old Quarter's bustling
streets are home to hundreds of small thriving businesses,
each one identified by its name, such as Tin Street or Fish
Street. Following lunch we visit the Museum of Ethnology,
dedicated to the country's 54 ethnic minorities. This is a
must for us as tomorrow we embark on a trek into the homeland
of several minority peoples. The remainder of the day is free.
DAY 3: HANOI BA BE LAKE
an early departure from Hanoi we journey towards Ba Be Lake.
The drive of 270 km takes approximately seven hours as we
travel through the flatlands of the Red River Delta and up
into the mountain areas north of the capital. The further
north we progress, the more picturesque the scenery becomes.
Our scheduled lunch stop will be at Bac Can town. From here
it is only around 2½ hours to our destination. Arriving in
Ba Be town by mid to late afternoon we will check into our
guesthouse and then head out for a bit of an exploration before
DAY 4: BA BE LAKE
breakfast we board our private boat for a cruise on the lake.
Weather permitting you will have the opportunity for a swim
in the crystal clear waters before having lunch on board.
Following lunch we will work off our feast with a three-hour
trek to a Dzao village. Here we will see firsthand how life
in these remote areas has remained unchanged. Arriving back
at the jetty we transfer back to our hotel. Tonight we spend
our second night in Ba Be.
DAY 5: BA BE LAKE CAO BANG
morning we take to the road again for the 90km drive (2.5
hours) to Cao Bang. Here the H'mong, Zao, Tho and Nung ethnic
minority people live together in harmony. We will arrive at
Cao Bang slightly before lunchtime and spend a little time
learning more about the people and their culture. This afternoon
we take a short 1 hour drive to visit a traditional smith
village befor returning to Cao Bang.
DAY 6: VISIT PAC PO CAVE, TREK
TO NAM NHUNG (BLD)
morning we enjoy breakfast before departing Cao Bang for the
1½ hour drive to Pac Po, the hideout used by Ho Chi Minh when
he came back to Vietnam after 30 years of self imposed exile.
It was here that he organized his resistance army against
the French. We embark on an 8-day trek covering a distance
of over 140km through mountainous rain forest. We will be
sleeping and eating in villages of various ethnic minorities
and generally living as the locals do. Some of the hiking
is quite arduous as we follow ill-defined buffalo paths and
trails. There will also be some steep climbs over the mountain
ranges. We will be rewarded with some beautiful scenery that
the majority of travellers to Vietnam never get the chance
to experience. As we trek we will witness the hardships and
joys of people whose way of life has been virtually untouched
by modern times and despite their extreme poverty, the people
we meet are some of the friendliest and hospitable in Vietnam.
Please note that to respect the traditional customs of local
hill tribe people, men and women are not allowed to share
the same bed, even if you are married, when we are at the
home stays. From Pac Po we trek 12 km to Nam Nhung village
inhabited by the Nung minority people.
DAY 7: TO TONG COT VILLAGE (Trekking
is our first day of full trekking and we will cover 20 km.
Most of the walking is along dirt roads, passing many villages
of Tay and Nung people along the way. After approximately
3 hours we arrive at our accommodation for this evening at
Tong Cot village. There are few vehicles here and most travel
as we do, by foot!
DAY 8: TO NA MA (Trekking 22kms)
terrain today is very similar to yesterday, following dirt
roads and passing many villages of different minority groups,
a great opportunity to experience the different cultures living
in the area. Na Ma village, our home for the evening, is one
of the smallest villages in the North of Vietnam and consists
of only two families.
DAY 9: TO QUAN UYEN (Trekking
is the longest day of the trek at 26km, however the terrain
is not too arduous and the scenery is diverse.
DAY 10: TO THA MENG (Trekking
morning we have a 30 minute drive in our support vehicle before
we continue trekking to Tha Meng Village. Once we arrive at
Tha meng Village we can cool down and refresh our bodies by
swimming in the nearby river.
DAY 11: TO TA LUNG (Trekking 20kms)
we continue our trek along a river to Ta Lung, a small border
town. We expect to arrive by early afternoon.
DAY 12: TO BAN LA (Trekking 17kms)
is more challenging than the previous trekking days as the
terrain becomes more undulating with some steep sections.
Our trail winds through primary forest and is a beautiful
part of Northern Vietnam. This is where your pre-trip training
comes in handy. This afternoon we have a well deserved rest
at La village.
DAY 13: DRIVE TO HANOI VIA LANG
trek concludes today as we bid farewell to our porters and
camp crew. From here we drive to the border-trading city of
Lang Son. We enjoy lunch and a visit to the local markets
at Lang Son before our afternoon drive back to Hanoi. On arrival
we can freshen up at our hotel before embarking for a celebratory
meal at a Hanoi restaurant. Overnight in Hanoi hotel.
DAY 14: IN HANOI
is free for further exploration of this fascinating city and
to do some last minute shopping.
DAY 15: HANOI TRIP CONCLUDES
arrangements conclude after breakfast. If you are departing
Vietnam today, a transfer will be provided to the airport.
NB: The hotels we stay in may
change from those listed in the itinerary above. The
itinerary may alter due to weather
or local conditions.
offering in this trip:
( click to see hotel )
tour cost includes
Service of a bilingual tour leader
Additional local crew support including porters to carry your
Airport transfers if arriving on the first day and departing
on the last day of the trip
accommodation in the cities and towns on a twin share basis
with daily breakfasts
accommodation while on trek in dormitory style in home stays
Other meals as indicated in the itinerary
transfers by private A.C coaches with reasonable supply of
water in ice boxes
Sightseeing as indicated, entrance fees and permits
Your tour cost does not include
International departure tax
Meals & beverages not mentioned in the itinerary
Personal travel insurance
Personal expenses such as bar, telephone and laundry bills