Ca Mau Cape on Vietnam’s southern tip was named a global biosphere reserve in 2009.
It has for long been an attraction as the country’s southernmost point, but people also say they feel vulnerable here since it feels remote and cut off from the rest of Vietnam.
To get to the cape one can take a speedboat from Nam Can Town, which is 60 kilometers from the province’s capital, also called Ca Mau.
From Nam Can to the cape is a additional 60 kilometers and takes around an hour. Passengers can enjoy the thrill of zipping along on the water, breathing in the salty air, and feeling the tranquility of the global biosphere reserve.
Speedboats are available for rent at around VND1.5 million (US$72) for 10 people each.
Tourists can also take a boat directly from Ca Mau.
Travel by road is also possible right up to the tip.
There is an observation station to see the tip of the cape and the ocean.
The Cape Hamlet with its low roofs amid the greenery is said to be a great place for seafood delicacies.
Taking photos by a large milestone marked with the cape’s name is popular among visitors.
But above all else is the biosphere reserve that spreads over 371,000 hectares.
Studies by the provincial Department of Science and Technology have revealed an unusually varied ecosystem in the coastal waters thanks to the collision of two currents – north-south and west-east.
The reserve itself comprises of two national parks – Ca Mau Cape and U Minh Ha.
The Ca Mau Cape National Park is home to 87 animal species, including the endangered long-tailed monkey and the silver langur.
The U Minh Ha National Park is home to several species listed as endangered both in Vietnam and globally.
It has more than 6,000 hectares of peat bog, and an alluvial area of tens of thousands of hectares created by the meeting of the two currents.
Locals said that dozens of meters are being added to the cape’s length every year, meaning the mangrove forests on the west of the cape keep expanding to become the biggest in the country.
There is a local saying that in the Ca Mau Cape “the land gets bigger and forests move (further).”
But since last year local residents and officials have begun to worry the blessing may not last long since the opposite phenomenon has begun.
They say several pieces of land in the cape designated for construction and tourism projects have just disappeared.
Ly Hoang Tien, a local Party and administration official, blames it on human activity.
He says the mangrove forests that form a protective barrier have been relentlessly logged.
Construction works have damaged the peat and alluvial areas, exacerbating the erosion, he says.
The authorities have built dykes along the coast but the construction has not been technically right, he adds.
Thanh Nien News (The story can be found in the September 14th issue of our print edition, Vietweek)
A man casts a fishing net off Cape Ca Mau. The region is known for its highly diverse underwater ecosystem recognized by UNESCO as a world biosphere reserve in 2009. Photo: Dongthap Tourist