Vietnam Travel Guide

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The Serepok’s emerald riverbanks

The Serepok River north of Buon Ma Thuot in Dak Lak Province has farmland on one side and the Yok Don National Park on the other.

The difference between the two river banks is striking, small cashew trees, tree stumps scorched earth and crops compared to Yok Don’s towering trees, bamboo, dry forest and birdlife.
You can organize 90 minute river cruises from the Yok Don National Park office in Ban Don for VND400,000. The sights and experience are well worth the outlay. The small wooden boat will come and pick you up at a crude wharf and ferry you eight kilometers down river to some roaring rapids. The boatman takes you the wilderness as he skillfully has a shaft mounted propeller to maneuver through small rapids and edge past emerald vegetation. Unlike entering the heart of darkness he slows for photographers to capture scenes.
The Serepok starts in the highlands and heads across the border to Cambodia to connect with the Mekong. It possesses arguably more mystery than the tributaries in the Mekong Delta provinces southwest of Saigon because of the wilderness it passes through. Ethnic minority people live along the banks and when they talk it’s in a guttural tongue that is not spoken in the city. Unfortunately the river is dammed east of Yok Don and in the morning the levels are quite low. Most days the flow is opened between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. making it more navigable.
The river forms the border of the eastern edge of the southern half of the park. When the boat reaches the rapids that’s the point where the river turns west and enters Yok Don before arriving in Cambodia 100km on the other side. The boatman stops there for passengers to explore and view the raging waters and the huge boulders that have been worn as smooth as glass over millenniums. The rapids are magnificent as are two giant trees on the bank. He said monkeys usually played there. A rangers station is just over a bamboo covered ridge.

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