Cuc Phuong National Park - Ninh Binh
Cuc Phuong National Park - Ninh Binh

Cuc Phuong National Park, Ninh Binh

Consecrated in 1962, Cuc Phuong is the oldest national park in Vietnam. Cuc Phuong, 120km south of Ha Noi and under the administration of Ninh Binh Province authority, spreads its land area of 22,200 hectares into the territory of Ninh Binh, Thanh Hoa and Hoa Binh Provinces.

The terrain of the core zone of Cuc Phuong National Park includes a valley of 25km in length and 10km in width flanked by forested limestone mountains in the northern part of the Truong Son Range. The mountains around the national park rise up to 636m above sea level and surrounded by vast areas of forested plain. The mountains of Cuc Phuong National Park are of karst and marine formations which are estimated of 200 million years old. There are a myriad caves in the mountains of Cuc Phuong and some archaeological artifacts found in the caves show that Human Beings started inhabiting here some 7,000 – 12,000 years ago.

The cave of Primitive Men at Cuc Phuong
The cave of Primitive Men at Cuc Phuong National Park

Cuc Phuong is located in the tropical monsoon climate area with temperatures ranging from 5 Degrees Celsius to above 35 Degrees Celsius and humidity from 60% to over 90%. The average annual rain fall is over 2000 mm.

Rain water in the park area follows a complicated drainage mechanism absorbing through the limestone and emerging on the lower slopes of the mountains as springs and geysers. The only permanent water source of Cuc Phuong which supplies constant amount of water is the Buoi River which gets the water from the Ma River and discharges again into the same river.

The Endangered Primate Rescue Center
The Endangered Primate Rescue Center

Cuc Phuong has amazing diversity of flora and fauna. The vegetation of Cuc Phuong National Park is dominated by rain forests on limestone. In some places, the forest is stratified into five layers. Due to the terrain, the stratification is often unclear and broken. There are about 1983 species of trees in Cuc Phuong including Terminalia Myriocarpa, Shorea Sinensis, Tetrameles Nudiflora, Euphorbiaceae, Poaceae, Fabaceae, Rubiaceae, Asteraceae, Moraceae, Lauraceae, Cyperaceae, Orchidaceae and Acanthaceae etc...many of which could be used for medicinal purposes (433) and many are edible (229).

Many species of trees at Cuc Phuong are listed in the Red Book of Vietnam. There are also elements of flora originating from Himalaya, Myanmar and Malaysia found at Cuc Phuong.

The Thousand Year Old Tree
The Thousand Year Old Tree

Extensive surveys have identified three vascular plant species which by far are only found in Cuc Phuong: Pistacia Cucphuongensis, MelastomaTtrungii and Heritiera Cucphuongensis and not anywhere else in the World.

Cuc Phuong is home to over 2000 insect species, 110 reptilian and amphibian species, 65 fish species, 117 mammal and some 313 bird species, 280 species of butterflies. There are even the endangered Delacour Leaf Monkey, Trachypithecus Delacouri and the vulnerable Owston's Civet Hemigalus Owstoni at Cuc Phuong. Recently, the Leopard Panthera Pardus has been recorded at Cuc Phuong. Due to illegal poaching and contracting habitat areas at Cuc Phuong, the last individuals of some mammal species have disappeared such as Tiger Panthera Tigris and White-Cheeked Crested Gibbon Hylobates Leucogenys...There are about 40 species of bats at Cuc Phuong.

The bird species at Cuc Phuong National Park include some are listed as endangered ones such as the Short-tailed Scimitar Babbler Jabouilleia Danjoui.

 Stratifications at Cuc Phuong
Stratifications at Cuc Phuong National Park

To protect the flora and fauna systems of Cuc Phuong, some 650 people of the local community was relocated to the outside of the park area in 1990. Still there are some 2000 people living inside the park area along the Buoi River marked for relocation. There are also over 50,000 people living scatteredly in the buffer zone of Cuc Phuong who are dependent on the natural produce from the park. Threats to the bio-system of Cuc Phuong range from people collecting firewoods, collecting illegal logging and poaching. Also, Cuc Phuong has turned into a tourist destination and could fall victim of irresponsible travel and bad travel management.

Creepers at Cuc Phuong
Creepers at Cuc Phuong

Recently Ho Chi Minh Highway Construction is cutting off some 150 hectares of Cuc Phuong from the main area and more dangerously the highway separates Cuc Phuong from the ecosystem of the Truong Son Mountain Range and that in Laos. This makes Cuc Phuong more of an isolated park than part of a vast ecosystem. And in the long terms wastes, smoke and noise as well as commercial activities along the highway could pose huge environmental issues to the park as well as the surrounding nature.

Cuc Phuong has been the training and researching site for students and scientists whose study area involves archeology, geology, biology, geography... Various projects related to biodiversity conservation have been established at Cuc Phuong including the Endangered Primate Rescue Centre (EPRC) which rescues primates confiscated from illegal trades, breeds them and releases them back to their habitat; the Owston's Civet Breeding Project and the Turtle Conservation Center as well as co-operation with international organizations in the related fields for researching the bio-system of Cuc Phuong and raising environmental awareness programs among the public...

Paradissa Travel do offer eco tours into the Cuc Phuong National Park. But as part of responsible tourism, we only have small group tours of fewer than 12 travellers with activities of wild safaris, bird watching and eco trekking. All tours are escorted by our environmental awareness-trained tour guide accommpanied by a professional tour guide provided by the national park authority. All travellers are briefed on the environmental issues at the park, rules of the park and agree to follow rules strictly while in the area.

Cuc Phuong National Park can be combined into a trip to the many nearby tourist attractions in Ninh Binh Province such as Hoa Lu - Tam Coc, Trang An, Kenh Ga, Phat Diem Cathedral...