The U Minh Forest is a huge cajuput forest covering approximately 2,000 km2 of Ca Mau and Kien Giang provinces.
U Minh forest is a rich land, with hidden potential. It is waiting to being developed and preserved sustainably in order that it can become an invaluable resource in the southernmost area of Vietnam.The nature here is wild and grand. The name “U Minh” refers to something immense, very far, very deep.
Tourists can come to U Minh by waterway or by land, but the most convenient way is by motorboats from Ca Mau along Cai Tau river and Trem Trem river or from Rach Gia along the seashore. Formerly, U Minh was a wild forest with many mosquitoes and fierce animals. Nowadays, its landscape has changed more and more, and people have penetrated the forest and many villages have risen up along channels and rivers.
The cajuput forest has trees 10 to 20m tall. From a distance, U Minh is covered with the green of cajuput leaves and the blue of the sky. Sometimes it exposes a vacant space like a “gate of a town” made by a channel from the forest to the outside.
Cajuput forests’ structure differs from mangrove forests. The background of mangrove forests are vacant marshes without plants, as plants cannot grow there. But many kinds of plants can grow in a cajuput forest. The majority of plants are Mop (Móp) plant and Choai (Choại).
Every year, cajuput forest supplies hundreds of tons of Choai strings, which is a kind of creeper in water, and has durability and resistance like rattan. People use Choai strings to twist fish traps or use to make arts and crafts beautiful and firm. In cajuput forest, the Mop plant is also called a Cork. The root of the Mop plant is very slight and spongy, so it can be used to make lifebelts, fishing floats, and caps.
In summer, cajuput forest bloom, and honey-bees from other places to suck nectar. U Minh people prepare places for bees so they can nest. Each nest can produce several liters of honey in a flower season and each person who watches the nest can have hundreds of liters of good honey after the season of cajuput flowers. The honey of U Minh has the special flavor of cajuput flowers. This kind of honey has a yellow color and is transparent, and its color is constant and unchanged if stored for many years. Every year, U Minh cajuput forest supplies over 50 tons of honey.
The U Minh forest is also a “sea of fish”. Fish live in reservoirs and channels. In the flooding season, fish follow the water to enter the forest for parturition. When the water goes down, fish stay in the forest. Most of the fish are loc (lóc), catfish, anabas, and sac (sặc) fish. Fresh fish are caught and many people dry them or salt them to eat all year round.
The U Minh forest is also famous as a large yard of birds. You can hear birds’ voices fluttering in the vaults of green leaves. In afternoons, flocks of birds fly closely together in the sky. When the night comes, the forest seems quiet. However, some birds call their flocks to go eating at that time.
Many kinds of big birds like geese bend the big branches of trees under pressure. There is one kind of bird called “Giang-sen”, which weighs five or seven kilograms. It is a bulky bird whose beak is as big as our wrist. Many kinds of storks, dien dien (điên điển), cong coc (cồng cộc), teals, frogs, ravens, sea eagles, etc. gather into groups here for laying eggs, and giving birth.. Poisonous snakes also live here, so there are many people specializing in catching snakes and who are experts in creating medicine to treat injuries caused by snake bites.