Bạch Mã National Park

During my stay in Da Nang I met an Englishman and we got to talking about the best sights we’d ever sightseen. His greatest view was in Bạch Mã where there is a great big waterfall. Just one of the most jaw-dropping things, apparently. So after I got to Huế, I headed out once again to follow a recommendation.

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I made arrangements with a tour guide, as you can’t ride all the way up on your bike. In the morning I hopped in their van. Two older gents, one Aussie and one American, were also along.

Bạch Mã is between Huế and Da Nang so you can arrange to visit from either city. We drove back down the highway and then up a mountain road. It’s quite a drive to the top, around and around the hills. Near the top we got out and walked the rest of the way.

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The peak of this park has long been used as a military outpost, as you can observe a lot of movement below, including Da Nang airport. It was used by the Americans in the war, who also defoliated huge areas of the park. It was amazing to see some of the old photos with dead, balded hills in the background. The whole place seems to have grown back.

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Da Nang in the distance

From the top we headed down a different path, following a river through the forest. There were some tricky sections, but nothing to deter anyone with normal mobility.

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There were a few small waterfalls and we eventually stopped at a pool to swim. This pool was quite deep and the water was very crisp and cold. Normally it would have been too cold for me, but after the heat of that week I really, really enjoyed it.

Eventually we made it to the fabled waterfall.

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The guide said there was a path to the bottom but it was arduous – 600 steps, if I remember well enough. I said I wanted to try it, and he said we should go in forty minutes. He also said with that time, I’d have to hurry. The two older guys decided to stay at the top.

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I rushed down, which was a mistake. Going down those steep steps wore me out fast. I was sweating all over by the time I reached the bottom, and almost too out of breath to realise the view I had.

My wide angle lens was juuust wide enough to the waterfall in. With a polariser on and Velvia 50 in the camera, I didn’t need an ND filter.

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After about 10 minutes taking photos and resting, I had about 15 minutes to make it back to the top. The steps really were very steep and I had a tough time of it. Eventually I cleared the final one and even though I was more or less in time, I had to lie down for a little bit to recover.

Following that, it wasn’t long before we were back in the van and heading home. It had been an great little trip. The waterfall was impressive but that pool was the best part for me. It would have been even better if it came after my workout.

Bạch Mã is a big park and I’m sure I didn’t see most of it. However, I was now ready to explore the city – the forbidden one, that is.

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