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Things to do in Vietnam

Encountering endangered wildlife at Cat Tien National Park

Take a guided trek through Cat Tien NP, home to clouded leopards, sun bears, Asian elephants and many endangered primates species….

By Phuong DO
Inbound Manager, Asian Trails Ho Chi Minh City

Encountering endangered wildlife at Cat Tien National Park

Cat Tien National Park is loved for its biodiverse landscape and rescue centres that rehabilitate endangered animals from the illegal wildlife trade. Visitors can take guided treks through the park’s thick tropical rainforest to learn about flora and fauna in this UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, which is home to animals such as clouded leopards, sun bears and Asian elephants.

On a hike to Crocodile Lake, you’ll get to see giant Tung trees with human-sized root systems and if you’re lucky, animals such as langurs and critically endangered Siamese crocodiles, who live in a protected lagoon breeding area. A highlight was taking the boat to Monkey Island where we toured the Dao Tien Primate Rehabilitation Centre, which is run by the Endangered Asian Species Trust.

The centre is dedicated to recovering animals from the illegal wildlife trade, where they’re often killed for medicine, taken as pets or used as tourist attractions. Staff attempt to rehabilitate the animals in semi-open enclosures so they can be re-released into the wild. What’s great is that all fees for this tour go straight back into running the centre.

The tour includes an educational film and staff talk about how the centre works. It was set up by a British expert in 2008 and funded by two NGOs in collaboration with Monkey World in the UK. The centre focuses on rescuing four species of endangered primates: black-shanked doucs, silvered langurs, golden-cheeked gibbons and pygmy lorises. We got to visit some of the residents and observe gibbons from a tower as they played.

If you’re really interested in wildlife spotting, I’d highly recommend the wild gibbon trek at dawn, which is limited to just four people per day. A guide took us to the forest at 5am, which is when the park’s two families of golden-cheeked gibbons are active and sing beautiful duets. We were lucky to spot and track them in three different locations; it was magical to see these amazing creatures in their natural environment.


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Alfred & Phuong DO

Phuong has worked for Asian Trails for over 10 years and has spent most of that time exploring Vietnam to develop the best off-the-beaten-track experiences. He is keen to promote eco-friendly accommodation and authentic local tours, especially those that create a positive economic and social impact for local communities.
Phuong Do


Your journey will start with one of our UK team – someone like Pam, who's travelled extensively in Vietnam. They’ll shape your ideas into the trip of a lifetime. But they won't do it alone. They'll draw on the expertise of our contacts on the ground, connecting you to the people who'll make your holiday one you'll always remember – the vespa rider who’ll whizz you round HCMC for a unique foodie tour, the guide who’ll take you fishing with locals at Chuon Lagoon and the ranger who’ll guide you to golden-cheeked gibbons to hear their dawn duets.

Freephone an expert 01306 744 656