My phone is ringing, “hey Khoi, wanna backpacking to Bu Gia Map National Park?” – a friend asked.
“Yes” – I answered.
And that was how my first trip of 2016 started, after I thoughtlessly answer to my friend’s question. I just thought it would be excited, and my wanderlust spirit said it would be excited. Few days later, my friend gave me an excited plan of 10 people trekking through a jungle, camping beside a stream, having dinner with ‘bamboo rice’ and boar meat, and sleeping under the stars. ‘Having been going through bad days since the beginning of the year, this trip would start my better days’, I hoped.
Bu Gia Map National Park
The park is belonged to Binh Phuoc province, located right in the border of Vietnam and Cambodia. With the area of 26,032ha, Bu Gia Map National Park is the home of 724 plant species including 278 medicinal-valued kinds and various species of mammals and birds.
Before the Journey
You have to contact the managers of Bu Gia Map National Park (no.’s here: +84 6513724235 or +84 989 218 912). They will assign a tour guide to lead your group to the camping destination. Without the tour guide, the jungle rangers and border guards won’t allow you to access the jungle.
Things needed to prepare for the trip:
- If you go by motorbike, notice fuel for a long run.
- Bring a mask, there are much sand and dust on the way you go, especially at the entrance of the jungle.
- A good travel backpack, because you will need to carry many important stuffs for this trekking and camping right in the middle of a big forest.
- There is a long way in the jungle with many slippery stones, a suitable pair of shoes would be ideal to support you. Boots is great!
- Foods for breakfast, the tour guide and his assistant will prepare your dinner if you registered.
- Energy drink for trekking, alongside water you can order from the tour guide.
- Tent if you don’t want to hire from the jungle managers.
- Cooking tools: A pot, the tour guide may cook for you a special soup made by plants in the jungle. Chopsticks, folks if you don’t want to use your hands picking foods.
A Long Long Way to the Spot
Bu Gia Map National Park is about 240km away from Ho Chi Minh City. Hence, it will be ideal if you can go early in the morning, the weather is better for a long way. Our team started at 6a.m and tried to meet the tour guide at 1p.m. Unfortunately, we have lost about 50km so it was late when we arrived, and were more tired. ‘Can you image of a bad road with red dirt and a lot of potholes?’, it was how I found in the wrong road.
My experience from the lost: must remember preliminary the route before the trip, maps on smart-phones are quite trustworthy, and ask frequently and differently the locals on the way (they may guide you different directions).
Here is the route that you can go to Bu Gia Map National Park from Ho Chi Minh City by motorbike, or car:
From Ho Chi Minh City, you can follow highway 13 to Binh Duong City. At So Sao intersection near Dai Nam, turn right to Phu Giao. Heading forward to a roundabout, then turn left to the way with a sign leading to Binh Phuoc. Going straight to Phuoc Long town, you can ask the locals for the way to Bu Gia Map town or Dak O. Then, you will go 25km from Dak O to the central of Bu Gia Map.
Sleeping Under The Stars and Waking Up in The Heaven!
From Bu Gia Map Town’s welcome gate to the entrance of the jungle, the road is under construction so the main vehicle that can be used here is motorbike. You can contact the tour guide to hire ones.
2 hours trekking in the jungle is really excited to me. Although I have gone 290km by motorbike from Ho Chi Minh City to Bu Gia Map National Park, the tiredness can’t prevent me from the interest of camping beside the stream, sleeping under the stars, and waking up in a straight forest.
Night at the jungle comes very soon. At 8 p.m, without the light from my phone, I can’t see anything but the fire camp. That’s make my first time spending a night inside a forest more special. I found a place to lie down, looked at the sky filled with a lot of stars while listening to the song of the stream, then opened an e-book to read till my eyes got tired , and fell asleep.
The next morning was amazing. The jungle appeared like in the heaven. To elaborate, green trees, sound of the stream, fresh air, all the simple but very hard things that couldn’t find in the city, were surrounding me. It’s hard to describe the appearance of the forest in that morning, I will let the pictures do:
The Secret Waterfall
As the team hit the camping point late the day before, and we need to get out the jungle in the early morning, no one take bath in the stream. Instead of that, the tour guide took us to a secret waterfall after 2 hours quite tired getting out the jungle. Fortunately, it seemed that our decision of not taking bath in the stream was right. Although the way to the waterfall is quite bad and sandy, it is ideal to swim in the waterfall after you crossed that very red-sandy road.