With a rich and diversified flora and fauna ecosystem, this reserve might just be the northern province of Yen Bai's best-kept secret.
Beautful landscape of Nau Hau and unique cultural identity are advantages for Na Hau commune, Van Yen district to develop tourism.
The reserve can be reached from Mau A Town, Van Yen District. Following the Red River towards Dai Son Commune about 30km southwest, the Na Hau Nature Reserve is nestled in a large, ancient forest. It is majestic and mysterious thanks to the fresh and pure air that rustles through the trees. Na Hau Nature Reserve is spread out over four communes; Dai Son, Mo Vang, Na Hau and Phong Du Thuong, covering over 16,000ha. The core of the reserve however lies in Na Hau Commune.
The reserve resembles a basin, created by narrow valleys and high mountains with many streams. The average height ranges from 600m to 7,000m above sea level. The temperature and humidity here are good for the growth, allowing an abundance of plant and animal life to flourish.
The broadleaf evergreen forests are relatively intact and many streams and waterfalls flow all year round. The forest structure hasn’t been broken and the canopies and layers are divided clearly.
Surrounded by ancient forests, the reserve has a rich natural ecosystem which is typical of the northern mountains. Many valuable and rare species of animals and plants can be found.
The forest is home to 30 different species of plants including rare species such as fokienia hodginsii, which mainly grows at altitudes above 700m.
The fauna in the reserve is rich too. There are about 72 species of animals, 240 species of birds and 48 species of reptiles, many of which are listed in the Vietnam Red Book and the World Red List, such as chamois, bears, black gibbons, grey langurs and big-headed turtles.
In addition, the reserve is also home to many bird species with a narrow distribution, including some species threatened globally such as the great hornbill and pheasant.
When exploring Na Hau Nature Reserve we had the chance to immerse ourselves in Suoi Tien Waterfall, hidden in the forest. To reach the waterfall we had to overcome large rocks and trek through the forest.
Suoi Tien Waterfall is quite long and has three layers. Each layer has a relatively big height. It’s cool, blue water comes down from the top of the mountain with the white bubble all year round.
On summer days, Suoi Tien Waterfall attracts a lot of tourists to its cool, clear waters. The gentle melody played out by the falling water coupled with the wind and the birds create a tranquil space.
Na Hau is suitable for groups of friends who love trekking, camping and exploring. The reserve is also the home of the Mong and Dao ethnic groups.
One of the famous specialities in Yen Bai’s cuisine is small free-range pigs raised by the local ethnics. The freshly slaughtered pigs are cleaned, marinated with spices picked from the forest and then grilled whole, or boiled and then cut to the bones. Coupled with a glass or two of Na Hau corn wine will make visitors remember the typical flavour of the mountains.
Another famous culinary speciality of Na Hau that shouldn't be missed is the black-born chicken. Dishes are made from Na Hau black chicken, they are either boiled or grilled, or cooked with sour bamboo shoots.
The road from the centre of Van Yen District to Na Hau Nature Reserve is rather beautiful. On the journey to the reserve, visitors can stop and visit the cinnamon forests in Dai Son Commune. Van Yen cinnamon has the second-highest essential oil content after Tra My cinnamon in Quang Nam Province.
In fact, cinnamon is a major source of income in the household economy of the Dao people in Van Yen District, but the industry hasn’t been significantly exploited yet from an ecotourism point of view.
With natural potentials and unique ethnic culture, it is believed that, in a near future, Na Hau Nature Reserve will become a tourism magnet.
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