Landscape and Wildlife



Landscape And Wildlife

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Vietnam is one of Asia’s most ecologically diverse countries. Habitats range from the cool mountains of the northwest, through the narrow coastal plains and high land plateaus of the center, to the delta regions of the Red and Mekong Rivers. Especially noteworthy for wild life enthusiasts are the expansive national parks of Northern Vietnam, filled with fascinating flora and fauna. For sightings of indigenous and migratory birds, the Mekong Delta offers some of the best opportunities, while offshore are numerous islands, some with pristine coral reefs.

The Deltas

The broad and fertile Red River Delta forms the heartland of Northern Vietnam, while Southern Vietnam is dominated by the rich alluvial lands of the Mekong Delta. Most of Vietnam’s rice is produced in these belts. However, while the Red River Delta is almost completely given over to agriculture, the Mekong Delta is also home to wildlife-rich marshlands and mangrove forests.

Butterflies of Vietnam

Vietnam is filled with the fluttering colors of butterflies – from elegant, broad-winged giants on azaleas in city parks, to the innumerable clouds of multicolored purple sapphires and knights at Cuc Phuong National Park (see p197) each April and May. At Tam Dao National Park in the north, more than 300 species have been identified, while at Cat Tien National Park (see p81), the count stands at 440 species. The butterflies’ names are generally as evocative and beautiful as their colorful wings. Some of the best-known species are the white dragontail, red lacewing, and jungle queen.

Central Highlands

Embracing the southern reaches of the Truong Son Range, the topography of the Central High- lands varies between craggy mountains to the  far west, and fertile plateaus towards the interior. The red volcanic soil around Pleiku and Kontum supports coffee, tea, and rubber plantations, while the mountains are home to jungles with many species of flora and fauna.

Central Coastline

The upper center comprises a very long and comparatively narrow strip of coastal flatland running along the choppy waters of the South China Sea. While the land is not as productive as the delta regions, it is home to some beautiful beaches, especially around Nha Trang in the lower half of the central coastline.

The Northern Mountains

The Northern Mountains all but encircle the Red River Delta on three sides. Sharp, jagged peaks rise above long mountain valleys, forming the most inaccessible part of the entire country. The  forest-clad slopes of the northwest once provided a safe retreat for flora and fauna, but today  new roads, logging, and human settlement pose an increasing threat to the area’s natural beauty.




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