Tra Su Forest and Stork Sanctuary
About a half-hour by motorbike to the southeast of Chau Doc, the square-shaped forest of Tra Su has become a favorite nesting spot for storks and other large water birds. A visit to the water-carpeted park is a popular excursion from Chau Doc, and for good reason.
Tra Su feels like an anomaly. In this flat region otherwise dominated by agriculture and fields of rice, a lush forest doesn’t belong. Or rather, it feels like it no longer belongs. Had the Mekong Delta been left to its own devices, it would probably all look like Tra Su: tall trees, wildlife and water everywhere.
A visit to the sanctuary consists of a couple boat trips, and the opportunity to scale a large watchtower in the park’s center. We parked our motorbike, paid the ridiculously low ticket price, and got into a motorboat, which brought us into the center of the park, where we would switch into a smaller rowboat.
This is when the tour becomes something truly special. Just minutes ago, we were driving through rice fields, in the never-ending flatness of the Mekong Delta. And now, we’re gliding through a watery forest, watching storks quarrel overhead? The contrast was so sudden, and with the sunlight filtering through the branches far overhead, the silence of our boat, and the clamor of the birds, it felt as though we had entered another world.
The tour was awesome. We saw both storks, and other large birds which we’re too ignorant to classify. The only problem with our tour was that it finished way too soon. We were dropped off in the center of the park, where we had the chance to get some lunch and climb to the top of a watchtower, putting us over the canopy, and providing an even better view of the storks’ nests.
Without your own transport, Tra Su is not the easiest place to reach, but it’s certainly worth the effort. Try and time your visit for the mornings, when the forest is at its most alive.