Vietnam is home to 25 species of wild primate, for such a small country with a huge human (not one of the primates included) population. This tour aims to showcase a few of these primate species, we will not see all 25, but we do hope to be able to see around 10 species (with some good luck). This tour travels from the south to the north and visits various locations which are among some of the only places where certain species still cling to existence.
Along the way we also hope to see a wealth of other wildlife including many other rare and elusive mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians.
Southern Buff-cheeked Gibbon
Pygmy Slow Loris
Cat Ba Langur
Ho Chi Minh City
On your arrival at Ho Chi Minh City airport you will be met by your zoologist escort (subject to availability) and your local guide and transferred to your accommodation, there are no further plans for today, however if you arrive early earl enough you can explore some of this famous city. (No meals included)
Cat Tien National Park
Today you will be collected from your hotel and taken directly to Cat Tien National Park which is roughly 150 km drive to the north (5 hours). Cat Tien National Park contains the largest remaining area of lowland tropical forest in southern Vietnam and an incredible diversity of mammals and birds. Cat Tien is home to three of Vietnam’s endangered primates; the Black-shanked douc, Annamese silvered langur and Southern buff-cheeked gibbon. Upon our arrival, we will check in to the lodge and you then have the rest of the evening to settle into your new surroundings. Subject to the availability and the time we arrive we may be able to book on the nocturnal safari drive that is managed by the national park. Cat Tien National Park covers 719km2 of lowland forest and swamp and is home to some of the highest biodiversity in South East Asia. Among the mammal species here are a number of primates such as the endemic southern buff-cheeked gibbon and the red-shanked douc, other mammals that inhabit the park include Asiatic black bears, Asiatic elephants, sun bears and gaur as well as around 100 other species. Over 350 species of birds have been recorded including specialities like Germain’s peacock pheasant, bar-bellied pitta and the rare endemic orange-necked partridge. The range of life found here is incredible with over 120 reptile and amphibian species, over 130 species of freshwater fish, around 460 species of butterflies and to date over 1,610 species of plants have been recorded. Tomorrow we will hope to see as much of this flora and fauna as possible.
Cat Tien National Park
For the next two days we will start very early in the morning and take a walk into the forest for time to observe the primates as they start their daily routines; our main targets here will be the endangered northern buff-cheeked gibbons. This species make territorial calls in the mornings and could be located this way along with black-shanked douc langurs and Annamese silvered langurs; we will also have a good chance of seeing various squirrel species and the common slender-tailed tree shrew. After seeing as many of these species as possible we will return for breakfast. After breakfast a car will then take us through 9km of lush, green forest towards Crocodile Lake (Bau Sau), we will then walk a little way to reach the shores of the lake. We will then enjoy the beauty of the lake wetland ecosystem stretches and its various bird life. The lake is over 13 hectares which swells to a massive 151 hectares when flooded. This lake plays an important role in the maintenance and conservation of the biodiversity in the region as well as the social and economic life of communities around the Dong Nai River Basin. We will also look out for some of the Siamese crocodiles that inhabit the lake, they were part of a 2000 reintroduction programme and have increased steadily in number since then. There are some small caves around the lake and its trails which we will explore a little as well. In the afternoon, we discover and enjoy the variety of trees and listen to the sounds of jungle as well as explore the forest again, before returning for lunch. In the evening we take part in a night safari. We begin by taking a car along the jungle trails to observe wild animals such as sambar deer, muntjacs, wild boar, Malay crested porcupines, gaur (rare) and yellow-throated martens. We will also hope for various civet species and maybe a pygmy slow loris after dark on the scheduled night safari and also be walking with your guide to areas known to be the habitat of pygmy slow loris.
This morning we will have one final morning looking for any wildlife that may have eluded us so far in Nam Cat Tien National Park, before departing for Ho Chi Minh city (4 hours) and its airport, from here we will catch our flight (~1 hour) north to the city of Danang (sometimes called Da Nang).
Danang is roughly in the middle of Vietnam and a great stop off as we will explore a couple of forests around here over the next couple of days. At the airport we will meet our new local guide and be taken to the hotel and the rest of the day is free for you to relax as you wish. Over the next couple of days we will hope for some of the harder to see species of the entire trip, the grey-shanked douc and some of the ungulates that inhabit the ‘almost’ mythical Annammite mountains such as the Annammite muntjac and the unusual with lottery like luck the soala. It is also one of the wettest areas in the world, and Bach Ma National Park is well known for its mist and rain, we will be travelling in the height of the dry season, but we will still need some luck for there to be no clouds or rain.
Son Tra National Reserve & Bach Ma National Park
This morning we will leave the hotel after an early breakfast and depart for Son Tra Nature Reserve, this is a small forest that still boasts populations of primates including red shanked doucs and rhesus macaques. We will spend some time here on our way to Bach Ma National Park and leave when the sun is getting too high and the temperatures increase. As well as the beautiful red shanked douc we will look for rhesus macaques, stump-tailed macaques, northern pig-tailed macaques and various species of squirrels. There are also 118 bird species recorded from this forest as well. For its size Son Tra is an excellent little reserve and well worth the half day here. From there we will travel on to the much larger forested park of Bach Ma. After driving uphill to our accommodation we will check into our hotel and then spend the afternoon exploring the park.
Whilst here we will try and search out the rare southern white-cheeked gibbon (one of the hardest species on this trip) as well as some of the terrestrial mammals such as Owston’s civet, large-antlered muntjac, Annamite muntjac and serow. If we are allowed (as the rules change so quickly) we will spotlight after dark and look for the pygmy slow loris and other nocturnal mammals.
Bach Ma National Park
Today is a full day exploring Bach Ma National Park, the morning will be spent listening out for the calls of the gibbons and then trying to locate them. The mornings are always the best time to see primates and particularly gibbons as the only call until around midday and then spend the rest of the day in almost silence. Bach Ma itself is 220km2 and harbours a great diversity of life, it is also up for consideration to be extended, the thinking being that the park could form a link from the coast through a protected areas in neighbouring Laos, and becoming a huge connected and protected ecosystem. This would be fantastic for Vietnam as the geographical position of Bach Ma (being in the overlap zone of the northern and southern Vietnam biomes as well as being part of the Annamite mountains) means its biodiversity is among the highest in the region. It is also one of the few places in Vietnam where wild Asiatic Elephants are still known from. Once again we will come back to the accommodation for our meals and if we are allowed we will head back into the forest after dark for some spotlighting.
Phong Nha National Park
This morning will be our last in Bach Ma National Park to look for any species that we have missed or if you wish we can have a relaxed morning. After breakfast we will depart and drive north to Phong Nha National Park and World Biosphere Reserve (5 hours), Phong Nha is regarded as one of the most beautiful parks in the region with a river that is bluer than blue and muddle of limestone karsts covered in very thick evergreen forest. In a country as agricultural as Vietnam is amazing that a place so wild and rugged still exists. There are some of the same primates here but also some new species such as Indochinese black langur, but we would look hard for these tomorrow morning. We would today check into our new hotel and then if we have time go into the forest in the afternoon.
Phong Nha National Park
Today will be a full day spent around the wonderful limestone karsts of Phong Nha National Park, our main target here is the range restricted Ha Tinh langur. Also found here are red shanked douc, southern white-cheeked gibbons and the rare Indochinese black langurs. We will of course be on the look out for all of these species with the Ha Tinh langur and Indochinese langur the higher priorities here. There are also some caves around the forest here which we could explore, bat species that are known from here include Leschenault’s rousette, trident roundleaf bats and many more. The largest cave here is the Phong Nha cave and we can take a small boat ride through the cave and see the stunning rock formations and reflections on the water. Again it is not always possible to spotlight here because of the park rangers lack of interest or just bad attitudes, but we will see if it is possible and if so the chances of Owston’s civet and pygmy slow loris would increase. In between our safari activities we will return to the accommodation for our meals.
This morning we will have a little free time before our guide will collect us from the guest house and drive us to the small town of Hue, from here we will fly to Hanoi. On arrival in Hanoi we will be collected from the airport and driven the 2 hours or so to Ninh Binh.
Ninh Binh is a large province in the north west of Vietnam. It is known for its lush green valleys and many limestone karsts. It is the limestone karsts that have become the home to our second to last endangered langur we hope to see. But this is for tomorrow, today we will arrive at the hotel and check in and have the rest of the afternoon to rest and relax before our last day searching for Vietnam’s rare primates.
Van Long Reserve
After breakfast we will leave the lodge and travel the short distance to the “Cat Scratch” mountain – the only home of the critically endangered Delacour’s langur (Voọc in Vietnamese) these are some of the most critically endangered animals in the world with only 250 remaining in the wild. In order to see them we will travel to Van Long Wharf where we will take a boat trip along the reservoir of Van Long Nature Reserve. This is the largest wetland of Northern Vietnam and the mountain in the reserve is around 1km boat trip and it is these limestone cliffs that are the best (if not only) place in the world to see the Delacour’s langur. In the mornings and late afternoons these primates aggregate here and are quite easy to see despite their very low numbers. From here we will then depart back to the hotel for the night.
Cat Ba National Park (Ha Long Bay)
This morning after breakfast we will be driven from Ninh Binh to Hai Phong (3.5 hours) and then we will take a hydrofoil ferry from here to Cat Ba island check into the hotel. Cat Ba is the largest of the 367 islands spanning 260km2 that comprise the Cat Ba Archipelago, which makes up the south-eastern edge of Ha Long Bay. Approximately half of the island is covered by the Cat Ba National Park, which is home to the highly endangered Cat Ba Langur, which is only found on this island and there are only around 100 left in the world. The island is just one of the places where the langurs are found. In fact as the numbers increase (slowly) they are also seen on other karst islands. We will have the choice tomorrow of either heading out on a boat around the karsts and to try and see wildlife (including the Cat Bar langur from a boat) or hike into the forest on Cat Ba Island and try and see one here. We will make the decision based on what is the most likely way of seeing one when speaking to our local guide. Either way the langurs are very hard to find but we will see what we can find in the forests here as there are lots of wildlife on the island which we could result in a productive day.
Cat Ba National Park (Ha Long Bay)
After breakfast, we will further explore park or bay by either visiting Cat Ba National Park on the other side of the island. We will then walk in the park, looking for various species including the very rare and very hard to see Cat Ba langur. A particularly nice place to visit is the view point on a small hill. Along the way we will see the diversity of the different kinds of insects, reptiles and birds as well as keeping our ears and eyes alert to the sound of primates. We will visit a small village called Viet Hai. It is a local isolated village, separate from the rest of the island and home to many local fishermen. We then have lunch with a local family. Or we will head out on a cruise around the stunning karsts here and try and see the langur and other wildlife, before returning to the hotel in the evening.
Today we will have a relaxing morning and some free time before we get the ferry back to the mainland and then meet our driver and travel back to Hanoi (4 hours), on arrival in Hanoi we will go to our hotel, check in and you will have the rest of the day to rest and relax. If we have time and you would like we can go into the city and have our final meal in Vietnam here (dinner not included).
After breakfast you will be transferred to the airport in time to catch your return flight home.
Please note that the itinerary stated above is correct as our planned intentions for the tour. However adverse weather conditions and other local considerations can necessitate some modifications of the itinerary during the course of the tour; any changes will be made to make the best of the time and weather conditions available to us.
This tour is available on different date (subject to availability) please contact us for more details about running this tour on a date which suits you more.
The northern regions of Vietnam have a humid subtropical climate, with humidity averaging 84% throughout the year. However, because of differences in latitude and the marked variety of topographical relief, the climate tends to vary considerably from place to place. During the winter or dry season, extending roughly from November to April, the monsoon winds usually blow from the northeast along the China coast and across the Gulf of Tonkin, picking up considerable moisture; consequently the winter season in most parts of the country is dry only by comparison with the rainy or summer season. During the south-westerly summer monsoon, occurring from May to October, the heated air of the Gobi Desert rises, far to the north, inducing moist air to flow inland from the sea and deposit heavy
rainfall. The climate in the southern regions especially Ho Chi Minh City and surrounding Mekong Delta is predominantly Tropical savanna climate with high humidity and a distinct wet and dry season.
Annual rainfall is substantial in all regions and torrential in some, ranging from 1,200-3,000mm (47-118 inches). Nearly 90% of the precipitation occurs during the summer. The average annual temperature is generally higher in the plains than in the mountains and plateaus. Temperatures range from a low of 5°C (41°F) in December and January, the coolest months, to more than 37°C (98°F) in August, the hottest month. Seasonal divisions are more clearly marked in the northern half than in the southern half of the country, where, except in some of the highlands, seasonal temperatures vary only a few degrees, usually in the 21–28°C (69–82°F) range.
People from the North, the Central, and the South will experience different types of climate appropriately throughout the year. While the North has a cold winter because it is close to the Tropic of Cancer. The temperature can drop to 10°C (50°F). The Central of Vietnam experiences the hot and dry winter from mid January and mid August while the South’s climate remaining hot and humid throughout the year.
As we are travelling from the south to north of Vietnam on this trip we will experience a variety of weather in Vietnam, but it will all be hot and relatively more wet and humid than the other countries visited on this trip.
Temperatures will be in the mid to high 20’s and the humidity and rainfall will be the highest it has been so far as the coastline here receives the monsoon first when compared to the other countries further west.
Everything mentioned in the itinerary is included. Including three meals per day (breakfast, lunch and dinner – where mentioned). There will be an amount of bottled water (approx 1ltr) available for each guest each day. We have our own private vehicle to be driven by a local guide for transfers when needed.
All our excursions including guided walks, vehicle safaris, hide use, camping fees and park entrance fees and anti-poaching patrol fees also included; we also include all fees for our camping team including cooks, assistants and translator.
We recommend you bring along your own binoculars or spotting scope as well as appropriate clothing; which should be both light and durable walking clothes as well as a sunhat, sunglasses and warm weather clothing. Broken in and comfortable, waterproof walking boots are essential. Any medication, books or other items of a personal nature is of course up to you to bring along. Oh and please bring plenty of memory cards or film for your camera.
We provide a comprehensive species list of all the vertebrates present in the areas we are visiting as well as some of the best field guides and reference books for the areas we are visiting. There is usually a spare pair of binoculars but in a group of 4 people these do not stretch too far. We also provide a spot light for nocturnal viewing (this is subject to local condition when we arrive). Where camping all camping gear is included as well as camp cooks and assistants where needed.
Nearly everything is included in this tour. The only things not included are international flights, travel insurance (contact us for more information one what is required from your insurance policy), any food bought outside of the three main meals, drinks outside of any offered with the meals and the bottled water provided each day and any items of a personal nature such as souvenirs and tips. Any applicable departure taxes and not included (but maybe included in the cost of your flights). Please check before departure.
As we are based in Manchester we recommend flights from Manchester International Airport
We recommend KLM or Air France as a good airline for flights to Vietnam. One of the best websites to search for the best fares for these flights is www.odopo.co.uk; who are IATA accredited this is a link direct to their site. Please check our terms and conditions regarding booking flights.
Please contact us for more information about flights and we can provide you with a link direct to the flights from another supplier; in which case you only have to enter the passenger information and payment details. By using the above link you will leave our site and we at Royle Safaris hold no responsibility for the content on the site.
All UK passport holders and most other nationalities are not required to have a visa for Vietnam, if staying in the country for less then 15 days – which is applicable for this tour (without any extensions pre or post the trip). The easiest way to find information is by visiting https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/vietnam/entry-requirements (be aware that this link leaves our site and we at Royle Safaris hold no responsibility for information on the site). For longer visas you can apply for a e-visa.
There are no mandatory vaccinations needed to visit Vietnam, but it is recommended to be protected against Yellow Fever, polio, typhoid, tetanus and hepatitis A & B, Japanese encephalitis, MMR, Rabies and diphtheria. Please consult your GP about your individual requirements for visiting Vietnam as soon as you have decided on this trip.
Mrs. M. King - Kent, UK
Mrs. R. Boyer - Michigan, USA
Joe Boyer - Mighican, USA