It is past 9pm, and I’m feeling replete from a delicious homecooked meal by our wonderful lodge host. Everything is peaceful around me as I lie on a hammock in front of our lodge. The river is calm. Occasionally, I hear the sound of lapping waters and chirping crickets. In the background are the faint, faraway conversations of other lodge guests.
I’m mentally awarding myself a trophy for accomplishing a feat as strenuous as climbing Mount Everest. Okay, I exaggerate. In reality, I just trekked 15 km through the scorching Cát Tiên jungle. Give me some credit.
Fifteen kilometers don’t sound like much, but try saying that in the middle of a blistering jungle while steering clear of hanging thorns that will catch on to anything, i.e. your skin, and make you bleed profusely. They were everywhere. And despite having hiking boots, I felt like I clumsily stumbled through the entire 15 km.
We had a stonefaced local guide who carried a machete with him. His English was incomprehensible at first, but we quickly learned to decipher his accent. His stories were fascinating. He talked at length about the biodiversity of the national park, including illegal poaching that have rendered the Javan rhinoceros population in Cát Tiên extinct. They’re now critically endangered, with only one population remaining in Indonesia. 😦
We started our trek at 6:30am. By 3pm, we were exhausted to the bones. Thankfully, that was when we finally arrived at Crocodile Lake. And what.a.breathtaking.view:
Needless to say, the endless sweating and discomfort were totally worth it. We paused for an hour at this site to take in the serene beauty of this lake. Every once in a while, we saw a crocodile snout breaking the surfaces of the calm water. Hm…glad I wasn’t anywhere near this animal.
Seriously, after nearly 12 hours of trekking, not making a single peep about how frickin’ hot and difficult the trek was, I’m giving myself a pat on the shoulder. Well done, Liz.
Lodging mentioned: Green Hope Lodge