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CUC PHUONG NATIONAL PARK

Cuc Phuong, opened in 1962, is the first National Park opened in Vietnam. It is 140 km South of Hanoi and 55km from Ninh Binh. It covers roughly 25,000 hectares. The botanical richness of the forest is impressive as it supports a wide variety of flora species and patches of primeval forest, including ancient trees with thick clusters of roots, and parasitic plants and ligneous creepers. Tree species come from Burma, India, and Borneo. Clusters of orchards grow near cave entrances where moisture conditions and light are ideal. Varieties of trees include thousand-year dracontomelum and parashorea trees which can be visited in a one or two hour hike. You can see coral, vanilla, snow-white and butterfly orchids everywhere. The park also has a large number of animal residents including panthers and bears which are rarely seen. But you will see monkeys, gibbons, flying squirrels and pheasants. There are also over 120 species of birds and many varieties of beetles that inhabit this beautiful park. In April and May you will be able to see swarms of butterflies. At night, million of cicadas create a deafening din and millions of fireflies flicker about. Because it is situate in a limestone area, there are numerous caves in Cuc Phuong. In the "Nguoi Xua" cave (Cave of Early Man), two ancient tombs have been discovered, along with Neolithic remains and evidence of stone implements. There have been similar findings in the Trang Khuyet (Crescent Moon), Thanh Minh, and Con Mong Caves. Hang Dan Cave is well-known for its bat population. When hiking in Cuc Phuong, you walk some kilometers of a beautiful trail, passing through old-growth forest with long vines wrapped around strangled trees. You can visit the caves, waterfalls and streams in the forest or stop over at a Muong ethnic village. Since the Park is located in between three provinces, it's easy to combine a trip to Cuc Phuong with a trip to Hoa Binh or Ninh Binh province, or you can depart from Hanoi, spend the whole day exploring the forest and spend the night at the Park's guest house..