Ba Be can be described as a place of peace and serenity. The beautiful lake in the northern province of Bac Kan is listed as one of the world’s 20 largest freshwater lakes. Ba Be, meaning three lakes, was created by the confluence of river tributaries Pe Lam, Pe Lu and Pe Leng after earthquakes tens of millions of years ago. The lakes are part of Ba Be National Park. The earthquakes are also believed to have shaped the Nang River, an additional attraction in Ba Be National Park and a natural water way that leads you to a world of surprises. To get there you need to drive six kilometers from the administration center of Ba Be National Park to Buoc Lom Wharf, where you board a motored boat on the Nang River. The boat drifts through the bends of the river and past scenic high cliffs, mountains and crop fields on both sides of the bank. Some 15 minutes later, the boat is driven into the 300-meter-long, 30-meter-high Puong cave for you to explore the world of bats which fly just above the head and perch on stalactites. Bamboo creepers on the cliffs by the river make the tour special. Le Van Phuong, a travel guide from the park’s tourism center, says this endemic variety is a rare plant that only grows well in Ba Be National Park and is listed as one of the endangered floral species in Vietnam. The tour then takes in a small quiet village at the foot of mountain ranges, where 20 households of the Tay people live. You can see locals farming and buffalos grazing grass near them. The boat passes the waterway to Ba Be and continues its downstream move to a wharf on the Nang River. Here you will step onto the right bank and walk one kilometer downstream to Dau Dang Waterfall. The Nang River runs down 900 meters of stones and boulders, creating the striking waterfall. Orchids in the riverside trees sway in the wind to welcome visitors back to the crossroads between the Nang River and the way to Ba Be. You turn right into the tributary of light blue water and then head for Ba Be Lake. At this area, it is easy to differentiate the water of the river as it is full of alluvium. The tributary leads to Lake 3, which is the second largest lake. Surprisingly, there is a natural pond that is separated from this lake. Nestled amidst old trees and mountains, the pond is called Ao Tien (fairy pond) as a legend says it was a place where fairies used to bathe and play. The pond is never out of water and its water is as clear as the water of the third lake, which is why locals are sure there are underground links between this lake and the ponds. Leaving Ao Tien, the boat runs slowly through Lake 2 to Lake 1, which is the biggest lake. Birds sing in the trees and fly alongside the boat while monkeys sound out greetings. Many islets dot Ba Be Lake and their names are attached to legends or true stories which travel guides will tell you during the tour in this lake. Among the islets are Ba Goa (widow’s islet) and the islet on which a temple was built to commemorate the generals of the Mac family. If time is short, just take the boat ride along the Nang River and Ba Be Lake that is still and serene in the early morning, in the sunlight and at the sunset. Not many tourists visit Ba Be National Park so it still offers a haven of peace and tranquility away from the bustle of city life. In addition to the river and lake tour you can trek to local villages where Tay and Mong peoples live and keep their traditions. This park was established 16 years ago. Phuong of the national park’s tourism center says it takes three days to visit the attractions of the park, whose core area covers more than 10,000 hectares. The eight-kilometer-long, 1.7-kilometer-wide Ba Be Lake covers 500 hectares and is surrounded by a primitive forest on limestone mountains. It is home to 106 fish species and other diverse flora and fauna species, including rare ones. Ba Be National Park is nearly 300 kilometers from Hanoi and 50 kilometers from Bac Kan Municipality. The tour to this national park can be booked at travel firms in Hanoi.
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