One of the most challenging trekking routes in northwest Vietnam is Nam Kang Ho Tao Peak, which is now in its most breathtaking season.
Vietnam’s 12th highest mountain, the 2,881-meter Nam Kang Ho Tao in Thao A Village, Ho Mit Commune, on the border between Lai Chau and Lao Cai Provinces is considered one of the most difficult peaks to conquer in Vietnam.
Nam Kang Ho Tao has been a favorite place to visit since the end of 2019, when the commune road system was upgraded. According to Lo Van Binh, vice chairman of the Ho Mit Commune People’s Committee, the mountain is being utilized for tourism through climbing tours due to its diversified and spectacular natural landscape.
In the climbing season, many local residents in Thao A Village act as porters to guide visitors up the mountain. According to Binh, the local government has dispatched residents to neighboring villages in the province to learn about tourism so they may put what they have learned to use in Thao A and Nam Kang Ho Tao communes.
“Nam Kang Ho Tao is a hard trekking route, with a difficult and complicated terrain that includes many cliffs, streams, and slippery waterfalls,” said Nguyen Ngoc Chung, a tour guide of a business specializing in climbing tours who has scaled 15 of Vietnam’s highest peaks.
Chung said that most climbers cannot reach the top of Nam Kang Ho Tao in a day and have to stay overnight to rest. This route is more difficult than other routes such as Putaleng and Ta Lien Son in Lai Chau.
The trek is arduous, but Nam Kang Ho Tao has its own beauty with a maple leaf forest and a bamboo forest, as well as many streams, waterfalls, and diverse flora.
Another feature of this route is the old po mu trees (known as Fokienia hodginsii), which are thousands of years old, and the azaleas and cardamom forests, where the trees are giant.
Despite its beautiful natural landscape, Nam Kang Ho Tao has many potential dangers due to the number of streams and waterfalls.
“The areas near the water source will mostly have hard rocks of all sizes, from big to small, and will be slippery due to algae and moss,” said Chung. “You may have an accident if you are not careful. In the rainy season, water coming down from the stream makes the water flow stronger.”
With difficult trekking tours like Nam Kang Ho Tao, the most important thing is that travelers should go with an experienced guide. There are no resting places along the way, so you need to bring your own blankets, tents, and camping equipment. You can hire a porter to help you transport your luggage.
“Even mountain climbers consider this to be a difficult trekking route, so it is hard for non-professional climbers,” Chung added. “Carrying bulky items will make you lose strength faster, and even lose your balance because of the slope, which may cause an accident.”
Le Van Trong Anh, a 27-year-old resident of Hanoi, was impressed by the majestic beauty of this mountain. To capture the lush green scenes of this peak, he traveled about 25 kilometers over three days and two nights from Lai Chau to Nam Kang Ho Tao.
There are areas on the way to Nam Kang Ho where you have to use ropes or wooden ladders to climb. “I know there is a shorter and easier route to Nam Kang Ho Tao from Lao Cai, but I chose Lai Chau because I wanted to experience the challenges and to discover my limits,” he said.
The best time to go trekking in Nam Kang Ho Tao is from September to April. This is the beginning of the most beautiful climbing season since the weather is bright and clear. The forest is blanketed in green, with a few maple trees changing the color of their leaves. March and April are the blooming months for azaleas.
After April, when the rainy season begins, climbing tours will be suspended to minimize risks for tourists.