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Cat Ba is an archipelago of 367 islands of various sizes. The main island, Cat Ba, is about 100sq.m in area, roughly 30km from the northern port city of Hai Phong. Cat Ba Island is linked to Ha Long Bay by a fascinating complex of islands and caves.
There are many beautiful cliffs in Lan Ha Bay, Dau Be and Van Boi Island and the Fish Cave, which are tourist highlights here. They are beautiful, romantic and not so challenging for beginners.
Beo Wharf, one of the main ports of Cat Ba Island, is the starting point of the ship that takes tourists to Lan Ha, adjacent to Cat Ba town. There are five rock-climbing routes here. The quality of the cliff is very good, but it’s difficult to climb in summer when it becomes slippery.
Dau Be is a small island in Ha Long Bay, about two hours by ship from Cat Ba. It has cliffs that are as steep as walls, and act as barriers to the large waves that pour into the gulf from the east. The mountains on the island are covered with greenery, create interesting scenery. Safety pitons are needed for climbing here.
Van Boi is located on the small island of Lan Ha, with challenging climbing points. One can use climbing ropes here.
Another popular mountain climbing site is the Fish Cave, also in Lan Ha Bay. It is well known for its three hidden lagoons where people can paddle around in kayaks. Fish Cave is an ideal compromise for a mixed group of climbers and non-climbers. The latter will enjoy kayaking in the lagoons. The routes are near the entrance and the exit of the first lagoon. There are five routes that can be accessed during low tide.
The favourite spot of climbers is possibly Tien Ong Island in Lan Ha Bay. It is a small island cave, along with rocks and large stalactites. This is an ideal spot to climb as there are low cliffs, and the climbing routes are simple and suitable for people who are afraid of adventure sports.
“I’ve often thought that ‘you are not special’ is a terrible thing to say to someone as it trivialises the human experience. But staring up at 30m of the raw Cat Ba Island mountain that you are expected to climb is a humbling experience, one that could make the most rock-strong of our brethren feel a bit trivial or even ‘unspecial’,” Matt Bender, a climber, said on wordhcmc.com.
He said Butterfly Valley, a 20-minute motorbike ride from Cat Ba Town, was the easiest place for experienced climbers (going with a trail guide) to venture out to. His favourite are the roots, rock and reggae routes, where the climber can move between the criss-crossing roots of an old tree and thick, palm-sized slabs of limestone.
Hanoian climber Viet Anh, who took part in a tour to explore the Fish Cave, said visitors needed to learn some mountaineering skills, prepare climbing equipment and hire a guide to explore the mountains. They could face risks if they tried to explore it themselves.
“I have trained in indoor rock-climbing for a long time, and so I feel confident and have all skills for outdoor climbing. But I and my friends still hire a tour guide to ensure safety. Adventure climbing needs a good guide. This makes your trip safer,” Anh said.
“You should test yourself and get the feeling of overcoming difficulties and steep cliffs, and then you can relax seeing the sunset. It’s wonderful,” he said.
Anh said adventure climbing was very different from indoor climbing, especially in terms of psychology. If you really want to discover the mountains in Cat Ba, you should try indoor climbing first. With the skills gained from conquering artificial cliffs, you will be ready to conquer the real ones.
The trip to conquer the cliffs in Cat Ba always creates strong feelings and helps visitors experience the challenges and improve their health. Moreover, climbing makes visitors feel the romantic and extraordinary nature of the trip.
With its fresh air, beautiful beaches and primary forests, Cat Ba has become the perfect destination where people can relax and experience the adventure of rock-climbing.