ST TK 06: CAO BANG TREKKING
This 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.
Cave 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 and landscapes.
DAY 1: ARRIVE HANOI (D)
Upon 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 Hanoi's superb restaurants.
DAY 2: HANOI (B,L,D)
Today 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 (B)
With 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 2.5 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 sunset.
DAY 4: BA BE LAKE (BL)
After 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 (B)
This 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)
This morning we enjoy breakfast before departing Cao Bang for the 1.5 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 20kms) (BLD)
Today 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) (BLD)
The 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 26kms) (B,L,D)
This 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 17kms) (B,L,D)
This 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) (B,L,D)
Today 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) (B,L,D)
Today 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 SON (B,L,D)
The 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 (B)
Today is free for further exploration of this fascinating city and to do some last minute shopping.
DAY 15: HANOI - TRIP CONCLUDES (B)
Group 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.
Accommodation offering in this trip: ( click to see hotel )
Your tour cost includes
- Service of a bilingual tour leader
- Additional local crew support including porters to carry your gear.
- Airport transfers if arriving on the first day and departing on the last day of the trip
- All accommodation in the cities and towns on a twin share basis with daily breakfasts
- All accommodation while on trek in dormitory style in home stays
- Other meals as indicated in the itinerary
- All 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 airfares
- International departure tax
- Meals & beverages not mentioned in the itinerary
- Personal travel insurance
- Personal expenses such as bar, telephone and laundry bills
- Tips and gratuities
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