Trekking in Sapa, The People
Trekking in Sapa, or Sa Pa, which is about one hour driving from Lao Cai City, is a northwestern town of Lao Cai Province, Vietnam. Sapa is a famous tourist attraction of the northwestern region. It has such an epic and picturesque scenery with a wide range of hills covered in mist. Sapa is characterised by unique villages consisting of the local tribes. If you would like to experience interesting cultures and a truly diiferent Vietnam experince, trekking in Sapa is surely for you. Some ethnic groups regard Hoang Lien Mountain as their home, thus, they have lived and worked on the mountains for centuries. There are five main groups of ethnic minority which constitute 85% of the total region’s population: Xa Pho, Giay (or Zay), Tay, Dao (or Yao), and the Hmong. These ethnic minorities are hard working and toil on the sloping terraces growing corn and rice. If you are trekking in Sapa you will also see these groups selling beautiful and meticulous handicrafts in the market.
Trekking in Sapa, Understanding the Cultures
Numerous ethnic minority groups colonised the wide area of Sapa. The Kinh people (a majority Vietnamese group living in lowland area) resettled in this territory in the 20th century. In the 1800s, the French took control of this region and began to create military posts. After the hostilities of World War II, in the 1950s, almost all of the French colonial buildings were destroyed in Sapa. As a result in the 1960s residents from the lowland areas and the hill tribes started to re-inhabit Sapa. Nowadays, Sapa, as well as its surrounding regions, have experienced a large economic boom because of the large influx of tourists.
Trekking in Sapa, Expriencing the Wonders of Hoàng Liên Mountain
Sapa is well covered by the Hoàng Liên Mountain; therefore, the various altitudes make itself become an ideal environment for the diverse fauna and flora according matching the respective altitude. The higher you get the less variety you can find. At 2500m (or 8200ft), the forest turns into a “dwarf forest” or “elfin forest”. Due to the lack of essential nutrients and topsoil, only hardy plants like rhododendrons or conifers can survive. At 3000m (or 9850ft), only dwarf bamboo can be found. The highest peak of the Hoang Lien Mountain range is Fansipan at 3143m. Nearly all the Hoàn Liên Nature Reserve’s protected areas are at the height of 1000m (or 3280ft). Also due to a large number of slopes being so precipitous many are inaccessible. If you are trekking in Sapa you must remember the climate is seasonal. The wettest and the warmest months are from July to August. December and January are the coldest months of the year.