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Thanks for this report @inyathi, extremely informative as always and it certainly shows what the country could offer if one plans well. 

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@inyathi thank you for a wonderful report in which your enthusiasm for the birds, mammals and for the country itself shine through. Excellent well researched writing and superb photos.

Thank you for taking the trouble to write it

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Definitely an off the beaten path TR.  A nice mix of nature, society and the past. Liked it very much. 

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Another different and very interesting report @inyathi, love all the history and in depth info.  Shame you were ill for a while, but still a great adventure.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks so much, @inyathi, another really informative and enjoyable report. Like I said before Vietnam never has been anywhere near my radar, but you are certainly making strong arguments for it as a birding destination. Primates as well of course, but I confess my interest in them isn´t as great as in birds. Thanks again for all the time and effort you put into research and writing all this, it´s very much appreciated indeed.

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Just caught up with this report. I’m amazed at what you saw. I’ve been to Vietnam and my experience was very much a bird less one, and certainly no doucs of any colour. At least now if I go back I will know what to look for and where. Thanks for the great report 

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On 4/16/2020 at 3:50 AM, inyathi said:

Day 9


When we had arrived at the hotel we’d pretty much had it to ourselves, but on our last night a group of six Asian bird photographers had turned up, from Malaysia I think, I could see at breakfast that they were well equipped for a day in the hides, with lots of camouflaged clothing and armed with some rather bigger lenses than mine.  I suspect the Da Lat, hides have become well known within the Asian bird photography community. 




I had thought I would wait till i finished the entire report before commenting but I knew I would have forgotten that I wanted to mention certain things. 


Such as this - Cat Tien and Vietnam birding is taking off among birders not only from Malaysia, but SIngapore, Thailand and HK. it's the pittas that is the biggest draw (and other birds of course, and after seeing all your species so far, Vietnam has crept higher into the target list for my husband and I )

and I'm so so pleased you got the pittas but I'm utterly completely, incredibly jealous that you saw FOUR pitta species!!


My friend had planned a Cat Tien trip for this year but I was committed to caring for our dog this year and wasn't sure if I could go, so I had planned to join him next year. of course , ultimately because of the covid-19 thing, the trip was cancelled and next year's trips are all up in the air.

But being the lazy person I am, I have now the luxury to stealing your itinerary and using your hard-work research as the template for our Vietnam birding in the future! 


The conversion of poachers into bird hides and tours is an incredible phenomenon which we birders in Asia are rejoicing in. IT is the same in Thailand, and the local bird guides are encouraging their businesses. I just hope the ex-poachers will have the stamina to sit out the lack of revenues and income due to the coronavirus lockdowns but will continue to maintain the hides because the Asian birders will be back as soon as they can.   


I'm just at p2 before you head to Da Nang, and I'll be very interested to read that section. My husband and I were scheduled to stay 5 nights in Da Nang in October last year for my landmark birthday celebration. we had booked a local birding guide for 1 full day at Son Tra to see the red-shanked douc langur and birding, as well as half a day at Bach Ma mountain to do a bit of birding. unfortunately, my dog fell seriously ill and we had to cancel the entire trip a few days before we were scheduled to fly out.  But now you've been there, I shall use your trip as a standard bearer when we finally get to there!


Looking forward to reading the rest of your trip. 

as Always, @inyathi, your trips are a great source of inspiration to me. they push me to take on adventures that I would otherwise be too scared to take. 

So, before i forget to do so, Thank You for that!! and keep going to explore the unexplored vistas and tell us about your adventures. 



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I’m very sorry to hear about your dog, that is always a horrible situation to have to deal with, trips can be rescheduled, but a dog is irreplaceable.


I’m glad that you are planning a visit to Vietnam and will find this report useful. I hadn’t entirely anticipated that I would see four species of pitta, the four I did see are all described as common in Vietnam and the hides now make scoring them relatively easy. There are more pittas, but they are either not around at the time of year that we went or aren’t common and are therefore not easy to see in Vietnam. I certainly didn’t foresee getting such prolonged views of them, it’s no wonder bird photographers are so keen to visit Vietnam. We were certainly quite lucky at Da Lat, having missed our first opportunity to see the rusty-naped pitta because of rain, to have a second chance and not have more rain, that’s where giving yourself enough time at the main sites pays off.


To see four different pitta species on one trip is pretty special, looking through some of Tropical Birding’s trip reports, they do occasionally see four species in Thailand, I think Borneo is perhaps the only place, where you could expect to see more species on a single trip, they often see six there. It goes to show what a great birding destination Vietnam now is.


If the weather had been a better, I could have very happily spend the whole day at Son Tra, if we’d had time to do that, it’s somewhere that I think most of the birding trips probably don’t go to, if seeing the red-shanked douc isn’t such a priority, they’d rather spend the time birding at Bach Ma, because it’s better for birding and if they get lucky and see the doucs there, great, but if not, they may not mind too much. I’m sure though, that there are more birds to be seen at Son Tra than the few that we spotted and if you manage to get there on a day when the sun is shining, you might if you are lucky get great shots of the doucs.       


The one thing about birding trips like this, is that they can be quite tiring, we agreed with our guide Ken that there is no such thing as a birding holiday, you really don’t have time to sit and relax, I don’t mind that at all, I wouldn’t keep going on trips, if I did. However, you do need to know your limits, ideally in Cat Tien, I would like to have gone out at night to look for slender lorises a few more times, as I’ve yet to see any species of loris, but you don’t want to be going on night walks every night and always ending up being late to bed, when you’re having to get up early. After Cat Tien, I suppose going out at night in Bach Ma, might have been an option to look for lorises and maybe owls and frogmouths, I guess you could also try this in Cuc Phuong, although I imagine lorises might be pretty rare in the latter park. Mang Den is probably the only other place where one could perhaps have gone out at night, to try and spot nocturnal wildlife, but I don’t know how worthwhile it would be to try and do so.       


I hope that you are able to visit Vietnam in the near future, although quite when might be anyone’s guess. Having pretty much got rid of the virus, it will be interesting to see if Vietnam can remain virus free, it seems that at the moment they have banned all foreign nationals from entering Vietnam, exactly how long they will keep this up, I don’t know. While the situation remains bad, in so many other parts of the world, I don’t imagine they’ll be too keen to open their borders, but I’m sure at some point they will do so.  


@Zim Girl


It’s still a bit of a mystery to me as to why I got ill and no one else did, I didn’t mention but the course of antibiotics wasn’t quite sufficient to kill the bug, and after a few days at home thinking I was almost better, it came back. I was starting to thing it must be something serious, and reluctantly decided I’d better see a doctor, I put off trying to do so, because of the damn virus, I wasn’t at all surprised when I phoned the local surgery and was told the moment I mentioned Vietnam, to try NHS 111 instead, I never got through to anyone on 111 and remarkably it then seemed to just clear up on its own. I now laugh at the fact that my local surgery didn’t want to see me because I’d been in Vietnam, when they’ve had no deaths at all over there and we’ve ended up in a such a mess.




On 5/19/2020 at 12:56 PM, shazdwn said:

At least now if I go back I will know what to look for and where.


After my first visit, my view of the country was exactly like your's, this trip totally transformed my opinion of bird-less Vietnam, this was one of the major reasons why I felt compelled to write this report, so I’m glad to hear that.  

Thanks to all who've commented.  

Edited by inyathi
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