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Back to south, full a mouth

VietNamNet Bridge - After making a trip to Ca Mau Province on the southern tip of Vietnam, tourists will never forget trekking to the Lower U Minh National Park, which is located 40 kilometers southwest of Ca Mau City and 400 kilometers from HCM City.

Lower U Minh National Park stretches over the communes of Khanh Lam and Khanh An (U Minh District), Tran Hoi and Khanh Binh Tay Bac (Tran Van Thoi District) in Ca Mau Province. When visiting the forest, tourists will be lost in the endless white color of reeds and the cajuput forest’s scents blowing in the breeze. You will sometimes see bushes of rhodomyrtus tomentosa flowers, with romantic purple color, contrasting with the deep green of the forest.

Covering an area of nearly 8,300 hectares, the park was established as a merger between Vo Doi Nature Reserve and part of the Lower U Minh cajuput forest. The park is divided into three sections, including the administrative service area, the ecological recovery area and the conservation area. It is a unique ecological system of wetlands on a peat layer. This area is home to such plants as cajuputs and many kinds of lianas, as well as a variety of animals such as fish, birds, snakes, monkeys, deer, wild boars, and many others.

Around the Lower U Minh National Park is a buffer zone of over 25,000 hectares, which was handed over to farmers for cultivation and for creating an ecological belt to protect the forest. The park is also a place to preserve and develop gene sources of many precious and scarce flora and fauna for scientific research, visits and tourism development.

In the Lower U Minh National Park, tourists can hire a boat to sail through the forest to catch fish. In the summer or on weekends, many visitors from HCM City and other provinces rush there to enjoy forest food and fishing for fun, at a cost of VND100,000 a ticket. And if you are lucky, you can easily catch many snakeheads or pangasius krempfi. In the park, there are abundant natural fish, but they are conserved very strictly.

You will feel excited when sitting under the cajuput leaves and enjoying roasted snakeheads or enhydrises dipped into unrefined salt with green chili pepper. Forest vegetables are quite varied, so tourists can pick their own stenochloena, green lotus leaves, water-lilies, sagittaria, water hyacinths, to name just a few.

When the night falls, sitting around the fire in the cajuput forest or lying on rattan chairs in the houses on stilts, tourists will have the chance to listen to the locals and the old men who have lived and worked for a long time in the forest of wild cajuput and reed trees telling their strange stories.

Southern specialties

On paddy fields in the Mekong Delta, the locals catch a lot of typhlops, enhydrises and other snakes. These are benign snakes which often live in forests, swamps, ponds, lakes and flooded fields.

Typhlops are grilled over the fire for roughly 10 minutes until their skins are swollen and split, then eaten with chili and salt, persicaria odorata, houttuynia and many Vietnamese corianders.

If you have the chance to take a trip to the wild and wide fields, and forests in the regions of U Minh, Dong Thap Muoi or Long Xuyen Quadrangle, you will enjoy the Mekong Delta’s particular reptiles which are not in the banned wildlife list and are used in many different dishes. These animals are good for your health because they can treat various illnesses. Tourists can find these dishes at many restaurants and eateries around the delta.