Sights & Activities
Xeo Quyt Forest NATURE RESERVE
Southeast of Cao Lanh and accessible by boat tour is the beautiful 52-hectare Xeo Quyt Forest (also called Rung Tram) near My Hiep village. One vast swamp beneath a wonderful thick canopy of tall trees and vines, it’s one of the final natural forests left in the Mekong Delta.
During the wet season a marvellous 20-minute canoe tour (15,000d) takes you past old bunkers and former mine fields along narrow canals filled with ever-present dragonflies and choked with water hyacinths (luc binh). It’s an wonderful experience but splash on the repellent and try to get out by 4.30pm when the mozzies begin swarming. During the sunny season you can discover this area on foot.
The VC had a base here, where top-brass VC lived in under ground bunkers, during the American War. Only about 10 VC were here at any given time; they were all generals who directed the war from here, just 2km from a US military base. The Americans never knew that the VC generals were living right under their noses. Of course , they thought about that patch of forest and periodically threw some bombs on it to reassure themselves, but the VC was still safe in their underground bunkers.
From My Hiep, you can hire a boat (around US$20, seating up to 10 people) that takes around 40 minutes to make the 2km journey to Xeo Quyt. Dong Thap Tourist includes a guided trip in a lot of its tour programs.
Tram Chim National Park NATURE RESERVE
( 7am-4pm) Tram Chim National Park is due north of Cao Lanh in Tam Nong district and outstanding for its eastern sarus cranes(Grus antigone sharpii). More than 220 species of bird have been identified within the reserve, but ornithologists will be most interested in these rare red-headed cranes, which grow to an impressive 1.8m high.
Seeing these birds, however, requires a considerable commitment (time, effort and money), so it’s strictly for enthusiasts.
Birds nest here from about December to May; from June to November they migrate to northwest Cambodia, so schedule your journey to coordinate with the birds’ travel itinerary if you eager to see them. The birds are early risers, so morning visits are advised. During the day, they’re engaged in the important business of eating.
Tam Nong is a sleepy town 45km from Cao Lanh. The one-way drive takes an hour or so by car. From Tam Nong it should take another hour by tiny boat (around 2,700,000d) to reach the area where the cranes live and another hour to return. Add to this whatever time you spend (perhaps an hour) bird-watching (bring your own binoculars), it will be a unique experience , and then the requisite two hours to return to Cao Lanh, depending on your type of travel . There are not many rudimentary guesthouses in Tam Nong if you decide to stay late or hit the park early. Tam Nong sleeps early so if you decide to eat dinner in Tam Nong , make arrangements not later than 5pm.