Khanh Hoa province is famous for its turquoise water, golden sands, coconut trees bending in the breeze, traditional music and dance, and traces of old cultures and attracts huge numbers of visitors for a few days and often much longer.
In addition to regular tourist services, it also offers a host of environmentally-friendly ecotourism activities away from the crowds in Nha Trang. On weekends and holidays, many travellers, especially younger ones, take trips to new areas and beautiful natural sites. During one such sojourn we got to know Mau Springs - Bau Waterfall.
Mau Springs - Bau Waterfall is about 6 kilometres from the newly-built road from Khanh Le to Da Lat and some 60 kilometres from Nha Trang. Bau Waterfall remains pristine compared to other more popular waterfalls in Khanh Hoa such as Ta Gu Waterfall, Da Trai Waterfall, Ba Li Waterfall and Yang Bay Waterfall.
We headed out from Nha Trang at 6am and reached Khanh Thuong commune in Khanh Vinh district after more than an hour on our motorbikes. A family of the friendly Raglai ethnic minority people allowed us to park at their house for free and then showed us the way to the waterfall. The one-hour motorbike trip was nothing compared to the hike up to the waterfall, which is great for anyone interested in hiking.
To reach the waterfall we had to cross Mau Springs three times at an altitude of 700 to 800 metres, with water bubbling and creating a cool breeze all year round. After reaching the far bank we continued on for about 4 kilometres, at times seeing other Raglai people carrying baskets full of produce on their backs.
Along the path are rocks of different shapes and sizes on which to sit and relax once in a while. The smooth path is then followed by a path across a forest of tall bamboo trees that produce a musical sound in the winds. Here and there, birds flitter from one tree to another and sing. At this point the sound of the waterfall begins to be heard.
After almost two hours of crossing the forest and climbing over rocks, the reward for visitors is the beautiful and pristine Bau Waterfall, at a height of almost 30 metres. There are ponds of different sizes and depths in spots up the waterfall. One is about 150 square metres with cool clear water suitable for swimming. On both sides of the waterfall are large clearings where 30 or so people can have a picnic.
Bau Waterfall is full of water all year round. The natural surroundings are beautiful on both sides, with a green carpet of various plants. On some trees are orchids of different shapes and colours while there are several types of fish in the springs.
There were 20 people in our group that day, and most of us are very young. Upon seeing the cool clear water we chose a place with a suitable depth and jumped in. After a swim we began to cook some lunch. We had brought several things with us. Our group leader, 26-year-old Nguyen Minh Tim, cut down a bamboo tree to cook lam rice (rice in a bamboo tube) and some meat. The rice and meat smelt delicious and we also caught some fish and smoked them over a fire.
The air in the forest is so fresh. We sat by the spring, eating and talking while listening to the sounds of the waterfall and the forest and enjoying the beauty of Mother Nature, which we see so rarely in our daily lives. There is yet another waterfall further up, and while not as large as Mau Waterfall it is just as mesmerising.
In addition to its beautiful natural features, Khanh Thuong commune is also home to most of the Raglai ethnic minority people. They have significant cultural traditions, customs and ceremonies and musical instruments such as lithophones and the Ta-cung flute. Tourists can visit their villages to learn more and the Raglai are a very hospitable people.
As it is far from towns, reaching the area is still not easy. The only tourist service now available is bicycle tours provided by Vietnam Bicycle Tour Co. at 84 Hung Vuong Street in Loc Tho ward, Khanh Thuong commune. Guides often take tourists - mostly young people and also the occasional group of foreigners keen on hiking - up to Bau Waterfall.
‘Mau Spring - Bau Waterfall is still pristine,’ said Mr. Pi Nang Coi, Deputy Chairman of the Khanh Thuong Communal People’s Committee. ‘We hope we can attract the attention of investors who can provide ecotourism services like those available at Yang Bay Waterfall. This would contribute significantly to raising living standards in the area.’
To get to Bau Waterfall, visitors can ride their motorbike from Nha Trang to Khanh Thuong commune then walk to the waterfall. They can also contact hiking guides in Nha Trang for VND100,000 per person per day. Note that water levels rise substantially in the wet season and paths become quite slippery. Care should be taken on the hike at any time of year.