Cat Ba Jungle Trek

On our third and final day on Cat Ba island, Pete and I decided to do a three-hour jungle trek with Asia Outdoors. We weren’t sure if this was a great decision, given the relentless heat. However, we had such a good experience kayaking with their company the previous day, and part of the reason we came to Cat Ba was to explore the lush scenery in the heart of the island, so we pulled the trigger. Our Cat Ba jungle trek was an incredible, insane experience – I couldn’t wait to write about it!

Here’s the summary: an adorable Vietnamese man took us on a 3-hour trek through the jungles where he grew up. He pointed out cool stuff (edible berries that he showed us how to eat, crazy looking bugs, historic landmarks, etc.). Afterwards, his family cooked us a fabulous dinner. Pete and I were the only ones on this tour, so it was just us 3.

The Good, Bad & Ugly

Let’s start with the good. It was truly an “off-the-beaten-path” experience that we will never forget. Trekking through the dark, wet jungle for 3 hours showed us a different side of Vietnam. Being guided by a man through jungles he’s known since a child was awe-inspiring. He knew exactly what to show us to give us a fantastic experience. I (naively) smiled for the first 30 minutes of our trek as our guide hacked away brush to create a path, knowing we were going places others hadn’t in a while.

What about the bad & the ugly? The following statements are truths and not exaggerations:

  • We spent 2.5 hours sweating more than we’ve ever sweat in our lives.
  • We worried for our lives on more than one occasion.
  • Besides the first and last small strips of deliciously flat land, the entire trek entailed scrambling up sharp limestone rocks and scrambling back down them.
Spotted: Tarzan! (jk it’s Pete)
  • Stopping meant getting eaten alive by mosquitos.
  • The spiders we had to pass through were the size of Pete’s hand.
  • We also saw stick-bugs almost as large as my forearm, red crabs, and massive snails.
Who knew red jungle crabs were a thing?
  • Pete may or may not have experienced his first panic attack (you’ll have to ask him to confirm).
  • Falling was not an “if,” but a “when.” When we weren’t crawling up sharp rocks, we were stepping on muddy leaves that caked up our shoes and took away all hope of traction.
  • Both Pete and I left the jungle soaking wet, muddy and bloody. Besides bleeding from the frequent tumble onto sharp Limestone, Pete’s ear was bleeding from getting pricked by a thorny plant.
Yep. The ugly.

We made it!

When we broke through the trees and stepped onto flat pasture, I whooped and cheered much to our guide’s delight (but honestly, he wasn’t surprised at all – we had been driving the struggle bus for a while).

Our fantastic guide

The scenery felt like a hallucination after being under the dark, wet jungle canopy for so long.

We made it! (Barely)
This bull was judging us
This cow was judging us


 After this fun mix of amazement, mud, pain, terror and (yes, occasionally) delight, our guide’s family cooked us a fantastic meal. We were worried we wouldn’t be able to stomach the food since we were pretty riled up, but after some quality time in front of the fan, we were ready to eat. The food was outrageously good – fried fish being the highlight.


Spring rolls, veggies, omelette and fried fish

While we were chowing down, the family’s puppies were enjoying their own tasty treat: the sweat pile Pete produced.

Yeah, that happened

Another highlight of this trekking tour was the motorbike ride back to our hotel. Pete and I each got on the back of a motorbike and smiled ear-to-ear the entire way back to Cat Ba town. We had so much fun that we decided to rent a motorbike in Phong Nha (post to come!).

Would we do it again? Yes. Would we recommend it to anyone? Maybe. Only if they’re fully aware of what they’re getting into. It was one of the coolest, craziest, most intense things we’ve ever done, and it only lasted a few hours!

Have you trekked through some crazy areas before? We’d love to hear your stories!

8 Comment

  1. Janice says: Reply

    FANTASTIC!! I Love LOVE your posts! Can’t image you with hand sized spiders ????! The last, and only time, someone other than my brother in a field near home cleared a path for me with a machete was in San Salvador -and you were there!! I think the ride/dance in the open air top of bus to get there was crazier than the actual hike. Loved that excursion.

    1. Brittany says: Reply

      That was such a fun one! Yeah…I kept my cool for a while until a spider descended right in front of my face. I instinctively screamed and the guide looked at me like I was crazy…and we continued on!

  2. Trevor says: Reply

    Woah that sounds like such a cool adventure! Can’t wait to see more pictures. I’m so glad you guys are willing to try crazy new things. Keep having exciting and safe travels! Miss you guys

    1. Brittany says: Reply

      I kept thinking the whole time that this was something you’d love! You should definitely check it out some time 🙂 Miss you too!!

  3. Caren says: Reply

    What a great job you are doing,the pictures and your details are amazing! Can’t say all you met up with in the jungle would tempt me ,just terrify me! Love the posts,and keep having save and fun adventures. Love Grandma

    1. Brittany says: Reply

      Thank you! We’re trying our best to convey what it was like 😉 xoxo

  4. Giov says: Reply

    Omgsh I love the sweaty pic of you guys! Hysterical

    1. Brittany says: Reply

      Hahah glad you enjoyed it 😉

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