The powerful Hang En Waterfall (also known as K50 Waterfall) is like a silver strip of silk sparkling amid the Kon Chu Rang Jungle in Gia Lai Province, Vietnam. Recently discovered by a group of backpackers, Hang En Waterfall with its magnificent, poetic and subtle beauty promises to be a must-see check-in for adventurous tourists this summer.
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From Pleiku, the chief city of Gia Lai Province, we crossed a more than 80-km stretch of road to arrive at An Khe Town, and continued to travel an additional 30 km to reach Kbang District. Going a further 60km over the pass with green, thick, interminable mountains and forests both sides of the road, we finally set foot in Kon Chu Rang Natural Reserve, located at Plantation 4 in Gia Lai Province.
Difficult trekking route could not prevent our exploration
After checking in with the reserve, our group was guided by two foresters. We had to conquer a 12km difficult-to-access stretch of road with very high and slippery slopes by motorbike. It seemed that any light rain could make us fall off the motorbikes. Although we had scarcely started our journey, we could feel its dangers and hardships.
After more than one hour, we reached Trai Bo. That is a vast grassland where local people erect their sentry boxes. We left our motorbikes there and, with our passion for neglected nature, began to conquer the waterfall. This is the starting point of our trekking, fording springs and crossing forests in Kon Chu Rang Natural Reserve.
It was March then, the most beautiful time of the year with warm sunshine and little rain. The spring was not too wet this season, but we still used tree branches as walking sticks for safety. We zealously waded across the stream for more than two hours. Some sections were swampy up to our knees, some were full of water up to our hips and slippery rocks made us sometimes fell down. Despite our exhaustion, we did not shrink from difficulties because the stunning waterfall was waiting for us ahead.
We could not suppress our happiness when the imposing waterfall appeared in front of us. We stood still for a while to contemplate the K50 Waterfall that looked like a silver strip of silk sparkling amid the forest and mountains. The area around the waterfall was also so magnificent, poetic and subtle. It seemed that all the quintessence of nature converged at this place in order to create a paradise in this world. As for me, the K50 Waterfall is more beautiful than a masterpiece, since it is a perfect artwork of nature, a valuable gift Mother Nature bestows on this neglected vast jungle of Gia Lai Province.
A watercolor painting amid the jungle
Our group decided to pitch tents at the foot of the waterfall. We were very lucky to be accompanied by experienced and enthusiastic foresters, who were at home in such terrain.
After that, some of us fetched firewood to light a fire and cook rice in bamboo tubes. The others caught fish and snails and picked vegetables. We finally had a simple but wonderful dinner that few people have an opportunity to experience in their life. In the silence of the night, and by the flickering flame, there was nothing more interesting than hearing the resounding sound of the waterfall. This happiness helped us get rid of the exhaustion of a long and hard trek.
In the next morning, we continued our journey to conquer the top of the waterfall. After a full night’s sleep, we felt strong enough to face hardships ahead. Although the stretch of path was less than 500 m, it was hard for us to climb the 60-degree slopes. Moreover, the path was wet and slippery. Terrestrial leeches were also a danger to trekkers. With a thick vegetation cover, this was an ideal environment for this species.
The dawn of a new day seemed to invigorate us to conquer the cliffs. Our eagerness gradually increased when the sound of the waterfall became nearer and nearer. We finally burst with happiness when contemplating this masterpiece of nature. The waterfall thunderously plunges down from a height of 50m, looking like long hair embellished with slabs of rocks full of green moss. It was hard for us to describe our amazement and admiration in the face of this harmonious arrangement of nature.
Standing on the top of the waterfall, we enjoyed the breathtaking and neglected natural sight of mountains and forests to our heart’s content and let our souls sink into the dance of nature and cool, fresh air. That was a wonderful and unforgettable moment in our life!
Returning to Trai Bo, we decided to continue to cross the jungle. We trekked across high slopes and sometimes had to stop and take a rest. Amid the forest of high trees, we felt how small we were. We seemed to be explorers in an adventurous movie. The feeling of adventure made us forget the sweat streaming down our bodies and tired legs.
If you are nature lovers and do not hesitate to face the challenges of trekking, please make a plan for conquering the K50 Waterfall this summer. Don’t forget to take physical exercise to improve your health and prepare necessary belongings for your journey. The “Paradise” of Gia Lai is always a challenge to backpackers. Backpackers should have a sense of joining hands to protect its pristine beauty.
The Kon Chu Rang Natural Reserve has 8 waterfalls, but the most beautiful and magnificent one is the K50 Waterfall (or Hang En Waterfall). The second one is the K40 Waterfall, or Ba Tang Waterfall. It is also one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the Central Highlands.
From Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) or Hanoi, you fly with Vietnam Airlines to arrive at Pleiku, the chef city of Gia Lai Province. From the center of Pleiku, traveling 80 km along the National Highway 19 in the direction of Quy Nhon City, you will reach An Khe Town. Going to the T-junction to Kbang, turn left and travel 30 km and you will reach Kbang Commune. Continue to go further 60km and you will come to the Kon Chu Rang Reserve (under the management of Plantation 4, Gia Lai Province). The K50 waterfall is within the reserve.
- You should call in advance to register and ask about the weather. Contact: Mr Hung 0978 035 772
- Prepare tents, sleeping bags, food and drink for 2 days, and terrestrial leech repellent because there are many leeches in the forest.
- Take shoes for climbing mountains and crossing streams, light coats, and items for a forest trip.
Places for sight seeing
The K50 Waterfall is quite far from the city center of Pleiku, so, in addition to the expedition to the waterfall, you should visit other places in the environs of Pleiku
T’nung Lake (also known as Sea Lake): It is located nearly 10 km from Pleiku City along the National Highway 14 to Kon Tum. The road to the lake is picturesque with pine forests that stretch as far as the eye can see on both sides. At the end of the slope is a beautiful house in the middle of the lake, where tourists can get some fresh air, pose for photos and contemplate beautiful flowers, especially at the end of September when wild sunflowers are in bloom in Pleiku.
Chu Dang Ya: It means “wild ginger” in the language of the J’rai people. It is a volcano that has stopped operating for millions of years, with a funnel-shaped crater. Chu Dang Ya Volcano hides itself amid the mountains that seem to extend endlessly. Though Chu Dang Ya is an extinct volcano, it is full of vitality and very fascinating. Standing on the top of the mountain, you will feel the serenity of pristine natural sights, specific to the Central Highlands, and contemplate the green plain at the foot of the mountain.
The road lined with old pine trees is a famous check-in in Pleiku. Two rows of old pine trees create a poetic beauty for this mountainous city. The road is more than 5 km from Sea Lake in the direction of Chu Dang Ya Volcano.
Charnel houses in the Central Highlands: on the way from Pleiku to Yaly Hydroelectric Plant, you will pass the villages of the Bana ethnic people. Charnel houses remain in this place. Sometimes you can see old craftsmen carving statues for the charnel houses.
Where to eat
Following is the list of specialties and restaurants in Pleiku and An Khe you should try.
- Chicken at Do Trac Street, Pleiku
- Đỉnh Coffee & Lifestyle at 375A Quang Trung, An Khe. You’ll wallow in a warm and comfortable space with very good food and drink. Please enjoy a tasty cup of pure coffee in a comfortable seat.
- Cafe Thu Hà will give you a chance to enjoy the special flavor of Gia Lai coffee.
- Phở Hồng at 22-24 Nguyen Van Troi, Pleiku: The restaurant is famous for dry phở, a must-try dish in Gia Lai. Local people call the restaurant “phở hai tô”, implying that phở is so delicious that you must eat 2 bowls to satisfy your craving. It costs VND25,000 – 35,000/bowl.
- Cơm gà (Chicken rice) Mỹ Tâm 2 at 6 Quang Trung, Pleiku.
- Phở bò viên (noodle with beef balls) Tàu Lý at 36 Tran Phu, Pleiku: This restaurant is very famous in Pleiku, so you don’t have to worry about its quality. It is not big but always full of customers. It costs VND30,000/bowl.
- Bún (Noodle) Hường at Kiot 16, Hoang Anh Gia Lai Stadium. It costs VND 40,000/bowl.
– Hoàng Anh Gia Lai Hotel: 01 Phu Đong, Pleiku
– Green Bamboo – Tre Xanh Plaza Hotel: 18, Le Lai, Pleiku
– Se San Hotel: 89 Hung Vương, Pleiku
– Pleiku Hotel: 124 Le Loi, Pleiku
– Khanh Linh Hotel
– An Khe Hotel: 572 Quang Trung, Tay Sơn Ward, An Khe Town.
- The best season in Gia Lai is from August to January, which is cool at night. It is very dry and hot from February to April. It is rainy season from May to July.
- However, An Khe is different because it is an intersection between the plateau and the plain, so the best season for sightseeing is from January to June.