By Thanh Giang
Nà Hẩu Nature Reserve might not be well known, but could be soon. With a rich and diversified flora and fauna ecosystem, this reserve might just be the northern province of Yên Bái’s best-kept secret.
The reserve can be reached from Mậu A Town, Văn Yên District. Following the Red River towards Đại Sơn Commune about 30km southwest, the Nà Hẩu 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.
Nà Hẩu Nature Reserve is spread out over four communes; Đại Sơn, Mỏ Vàng, Nà Hẩu and Phong Dụ Thượng, covering over 16,000ha. The core of the reserve however lies in Nà Hẩu 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 Việt Nam 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 Nà Hẩu Nature Reserve we had the chance to immerse ourselves in Suối Tiên Waterfall, hidden in the forest. To reach the waterfall we had to overcome large rocks and trek through the forest.
Suối Tiên 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, Suối Tiên 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.
Nà Hẩu is suitable for groups of friends who love trekking, camping and exploring. The reserve is also the home of the Mông and Dao ethnic groups.
One of the famous specialities in Yên Bái’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 Nà Hẩu corn wine will make visitors remember the typical flavour of the mountains.
Another famous culinary speciality of Nà Hẩu that shouldn’t be missed is the black-born chicken. Dishes are made from Nà Hẩu black chicken, they are either boiled or grilled, or cooked with sour bamboo shoots.
The road from the centre of Văn Yên District to Nà Hẩu Nature Reserve is rather beautiful. On the journey to the reserve, visitors can stop and visit the cinnamon forests in Đại Sơn Commune. Văn Yên cinnamon has the second-highest essential oil content after Trà My cinnamon in Quảng Nam Province.
In fact, cinnamon is a major source of income in the household economy of the Dao people in Văn Yên 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, Nà Hẩu Nature Reserve will become a tourism magnet. — VNS