In a dense Central Highlands jungle, a cascade thrills
It’s not easy to get to the Hang En Waterfall, but the journey and destination make for an unforgettable adventure.
Getting to the Hang En Waterfall is a challenge. If you accept it, you have to take the assistance of a local guide because the path is very dangerous for outsiders to navigate on their own.
The waterfall is located in K'bang District, Gia Lai Province. The waterfall marks the origins of the Con River.
In mid-March, a group of Gia Lai photographers and colleagues set out to reach the Hang En Waterfall with the guidance of forest rangers with years of experience in guiding tours of the Kon Chu Rang Nature Reserve in the same area.
The reserve has about 15,900 hectares of special-use forests, a transition ecosystem between the east and west of the Truong Son Mountain range. It is home to rare, rich and diverse flora and fauna. The buffer zone of the reserve also hosts several homes of the Ba Na ethnic minority community.
There are more than 10 waterfalls in the reserve, but Hang En stands out. Visitors need to register with the management board of the reserve to visit Hang En, but this is a fairly quick procedure.
Before starting out on their adventure, the group had to prepare tents, sleeping bags, food and water for a two-day-one-night journey. The must-have items are mountain climbing shoes or stream shoes, forest walker stick, and a light jacket. The weather is also something to keep an eye out for. Between March and June is an ideal time.
Phan Nguyen, a photographer in Gia Lai, said that from the Forest Ranger Station, it took about three hours to travel in a tractor to the Trai Bo area (pictured above), a large meadow fashioned out by the locals. This is the starting point of the actual journey to the waterfalls.
The tractor truck can "sweep" away every obstacle in the dangerous jungle path. This bumpy experience is a memorable part of the journey. From time to time, some members screamed out when an insect, worm or beetle fell on them from branches above their heads.
Exploring the Hang En Waterfall means tackling many trails between the dense trees in the middle of the forest and wading through dangerous streams or steep rocks. Along the way, snakes and leeches are a common sight. The distance from the Trai Bo area to the Hang En Waterfall is about 5 km.
Photographer Tran Bao Hoa of Dak Lak Province said the most strenuous part of the journey was a 500m plus slope with an inclination of 60 degrees.
In swampy, wet areas, the visitors found that that though they members were equipped with tight-fitting clothes, leeches could still latch on to them and suck their blood. The picture above shows a bloated leech on a tree after it gorged itself on a member of the group.
After a day in the forest, the group set up camp at sunset. The overnight camping experience was a breath of fresh air for people from urban areas, cut off from wifi connections.
The group cooked rice and grilled meat over a wood fire. It was a good time to enjoy the windy, late night chill under a canopy of stars.
Early in the morning, the sound of the waterfall was a pleasant sound to wake up to. Everyone cleaned after themselves and made sure no trash was littered. They ate ramen noodles for breakfast and walked along the mountainside to the foot of the waterfall.
During the dry season, the flow is mild, adding tranquility to the majestic beauty of the landscape.
The Hang En Waterfall is a "work of art" in itself, many say and photographers cannot get enough of it.
The waterfall is 50m hign. During the dry season, it has a width of about 20-30 m. The play of water with sunlight creates a lot of rainbows.
Photos by Phan Nguyen