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Dong Van rock plateau


Dong Van rock plateau

Located on an altitude of 1,000m-1,600m, belonging to 4 districts of Quan Ba, Yen Minh, Meo Vac, Dong Van (Ha Giang Province), the 2,350km-Dong Van Karst Plateau is one of Viet Nam’s special limestone areas, housing prominent imprints that depict the development of the earth’s crust.

Up to 80% of the karst formations of Dong Van Plateau are limestone formed by environment conditions and different development stages of nature. A survey conducted by the Viet Nam Institute of Geosciences and Natural Resources revealed the finding of 13 fossil – geological formations and 19 paleontology groups in Dong Van. The paleontology groups have helped scientists draw a complete picture of development history in terms of geology of Dong Van Karst Plateau.

From Ha Giang City, visitors travel on National Highway 4C for 43km to Quan Ba. Continuing on this highway through Can Ty Pass, pine forests, steep drops, deep ravines, and razor sharp turns, visitors will reach to Dong Van karst plateau.

Thanks to weather changes and Dong Van’s geo-diversity, the karst evolution has created “rock gardens” and “rock forests” of diverse forms in the area, such as Khau Vai rock garden (Meo Vac) where tourists can contemplate the peaks of rocks in the shape of different kinds of flowers, Lung Pu rock garden (Meo Vac) with animal-shaped rocks such as tiger and dragon, Van Chai rock garden (Dong Van) with round flagstones arranged like thousands of black sea lions leaning one another getting some rest on the beach.

However, the ranges of pyramid-shape mountains with sky-high rocky ascents are popular images making Dong Van Karst Plateau more majestic. The most typical one is Ma Pi Leng Pass area belonging to three communes of Pai Lung, Pa Vi and Xin Cai (Meo Vac District).

According to Quan Hoa language, Ma Pi Leng means “horse nose” to say about the dangerousness of the pass. In the past, the only means of transportation to over Ma Pi Leng Pass (with the 2,000m height of the peak) was horse. In 1959, the State decided to develop the road route named Hanh phuc (Happiness) connecting Ha Giang City with Dong Van and Meo Vac districts, of which including Ma Pi Leng Pass with length of 24km.

As one of four biggest passes in the Northern mountainous region, the area of pass is created by a series of sediment including schist, limestone, siliceous limestone containing fossils about 426 million years ago. French scholars have called Ma Pi Leng Pass a “Geological Monument”. The pass is beside Tu San deep canyon.

Tu San Canyon has a depth of about 800m, a length of 1.7km, cliff slope of 70-90o. Tu San is the deepest canyon in Viet Nam. Looking down Tu San Canyon from Ma Pi Leng Pass, tourists will admire spectacular beauty of mountains, deep green Nho Que River winding long pass foot, immense green corn fields or mossy stilt houses hidden in clouds and mountains…

With unique geological, geomorphology values, Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism recognized Ma Pi Leng Pass as national landscape site in 2009.

A system of 100 grottoes in Dong Van Karst Plateau is also products of karst evolution and has became typical tourist sites as Rong (Dragon) Cave in Sang Tung (Dong Van), Kho My Cave in Tung Vai (Quan Ba), En Grotto in Van Chai (Dong Van)…

The scientists have also evaluated Dong Van Plateau as having a unique and diverse mountainous geo-ecosystem. Primitive forests here have been rather undamaged, habiting many rare floral species, including Burretiodendron hsienmu (Nghien), Taxus Wallichiana Zucc (Thong do), Amentotaxus hatuyenensis (De tung soc nau), Cephalotaxus hainanensis (Dinh tung), Podocarpus pilgeri Foxw (Thong tre la ngan), Cupressus funebris (Hoang dan ru)… especially over 40 species of orchids. Dong Van Plateau also has a rich diversity of habitat for fauna as scientists have spotted over 50 species of wild animals, birds and reptiles in the site such as Capri conrnis sumatresis (Son duong), Rhinopithecus avunculus (Vooc mui hech), Sus cristatus (Lon rung), Garrulax canorus (Hoa mi)…

Besides geology, geomorphology, landscape values… Dong Van Karst Plateau also contains unique cultural values ??of 17 ethnic minority groups such as Mong, Dao, Lo Lo, Tay , Nung… Since long time, the ethnic groups in Dong Van has had rich cultural and spiritual life. It is expressed clearly through the cultivation method in the small rock caves or mountain sides. They also use rocks to build houses; hold water and land… To Dong Van, tourists can see the rock gardens dotted with green corn fields and golden rice fields

Impression of tourists about the karst plateau is not only pristine and majestic beauty, but also hospitality and honest of the locals. Ha Giang has invested to develop some culture and community-based tourism villages to attract more tourists as well as contribute to improving locals’ life as culture tourism villages of Sua Pa A Hamlet, Lung Cam Tren Hamlet, Pho Tro Hamlet (Dong Van District), Sang Pa A Hamlet, Na Trao Hamlet (Meo Vac District), Nam Dam Hamlet, Hop Tien Hamlet (Quan Ba District), Buc Ban Hamlet (Yen Minh District)… Here, besides experiencing daily activities with the locals as cattle breeding, cooking, art performance, tourists can learn about traditional crafts such as forging; casting; making Khen of Mong people; weaving, embroidering brocade of ethnic groups as Mong, Dao, Giay, Tay, Nung, Lo Lo…

A long attachment process of the locals with Dong Van Karst Plateau has also left distinct vestiges as Vuong Family Palace (Sa Phin Commune, Dong Van District) built in Qing Dynasty architecture (China), Dong Van Ancient Quarter with nearly 50 houses, typically 300-year old Luong family house… To Dong Van Ancient Quarter on every the 1st day and 15th day of lunar month, tourists will have opportunity to enjoy art performances and specific thang co dish of the highland. In addition, highland markets as Pho Bang, Dong Van, Lung Cu, Sa Phin… together with traditional festivals, cuisine… also contribute making the picture of Dong Van Karst Plateau more attractive and lively.

The best time to visit Dong Van is the spring. Tourists are hit by wonderful landscapes composed by yellow cai (kale) flowers and pink peach flowers in full blossom, mossy tiled roofs of stilt houses, dark green rocks and blue skies. Far in deep valleys covered by pure white plum flowers in full blossom hear remote sounds of khen (pan-flutes) of Mong people. The season covers rugged rocks and mountain peaks with its bright colors. All blend with each other to create a wonderful painting in the North pole of the country.

On 3rd October 2010, in Lesvos (Greece), Dong Van Karst Plateau was recognized as official member of Global Geo-parks Network (GGN) for its prominent values on landscape, palaeobiology, geology, geomorphology and local culture.

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