Thunder in the hills

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Phu Cuong is a spectacular waterfall 45 kilometers southwest of Pleiku, the provincial capital of Gia Lai in the Central Highlands.

In the still of the night, the sound of the crashing water can be heard from more than two kilometers away as it reverberates through the surrounding mountains and forests.

Surprisingly beautiful wild flowers abound amid the lush green vegetation where song birds welcome the new day in full chorus.

The waterfall feeds into Ia Peet Brook just above the confluence with the crystal blue Ayun River.

It's a great place for swimming in cool currents, lying on green carpets of grassy banks and taking in magnificent scenery, and there are also elephant rides through the shady forest for the more adventurous.

At nearby Ayun Ha Lake, tourists can go boating to see the fishing villages along the shore and even use fishing rods themselves to catch a meal. The boats are equipped with coal stoves for grilling the catch of the day, which can be eaten while sipping ruou can (wine in a jar) through a communal straw.

At night by the campfire, members of the J'rai tribe sound their gongs and dance while the visitors drink more local wine and dine on grilled meat and com lam (rice cooked in a bamboo pipe), a local specialty. Dinner is followed by a talk on local culture and customs by the tour guide.

The easiest way to visit Phu Cuong Waterfall and Ayun Ha Lake is to book a tour with the Gia Lai Tourism Joint Stock Company, 215 Hung Vuong Street, Pleiku Town or phone (059) 387 4571.

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