Located more than 50 kilometers south of Da Lat City in Lam Dong Province, Pongour Waterfall was once considered the most majestic natural treasure in the southwest Highlands jungle. But due to the recent construction of the Dai Ninh hydroelectric dam, the magnificent waterfall has all but dried up.
|Several years ago, the imposing Pongour waterfall was considered a natural treasure. (Photo: Khanh Huy)|
From 40 meters above, massive amounts of water once gushed down into a large swirling pool, mimicking the sound of thunder, especially in the rainy season.
The 13th and last king of the Nguyen Dynasty, Bao Dai (1913-1997), called the waterfall Nam thien de nhat thac (The most imposing waterfall in the South).
The province tasked the Dat Nam Tourism Company with managing, investing in and developing Pongour Waterfall tourism since 1998.
But in 2007, the Dai Ninh Hydroelectric Plant blocked the flow of Da Nhim River to keep water for its reservoir.
As a result, Pongour has run dry since 2008 while nearby Gougah and Bao Dai waterfalls now flood during the rainy season.
Since the dam began blocking the water, tourism in the area has also been seriously affected.
|The once-majestic Pongour Waterfall in Lam Dong Province is now completely dry after a hydroelectric dam was built upstream. (Photo: SGGP)|
Every year, during the full moon of the first lunar month, the Pongour Waterfall Festival takes place featuring musical performances by Highland ethnic minorities.
The traditional event attracts large masses of local and foreign visitors. In previous years, more than 10,000 people would turn out for the festival.
However, in the past three years, the event has attracted only around 6,000 tourists each year.
Earlier, ticket revenue from the waterfall festival was around VND1 billion (US$50,000) a year. However, the company earned just VND300 million ($15,000) in 2008 and 2009, said the director of Dat Nam Tourism.
To bring back the waterfall and the tourists who flock to see it, Dat Nam Tourism recently asked the province to build a dam that would serve to keep the waterfall active. The VND3 billion ($150,000) reservoir is intended to retain water at night and let water flow down the falls during the day.
Construction of the dam is hoped to finish in time for the next waterfall festival in the first lunar month
Another dam linked to the Da Nhim hydropower plant has also left the Lien Khuong Waterfall dry. The nearby Cam Ly Waterfall, meanwhile, which authorities want closed, has been polluted for several years.