South Korea's stunning landscape has played a big part in
creating a cohesive Korean identity. This is a country swathed
in green, prodding its stony fingers skyward, and the Koreans
are a people obsessed with nature (mountains in particular).
Wherever you travel, you'll see Koreans out in the open air,
clad in the latest adventure fashions, pushing ever onward
Situated near the DMZ and once an area of intense fighting
in the Korean war, Odaesan is a land of high craggy peaks,
lush forests, tremendous waterfalls, boulder-strewn white
water rivers, beaches and ancient temples. This is one of
the only parts of the country where native animals are still
in existence; if you are lucky you might see black bear
Being such a gorgeous attraction, the park is outrageously
popular, so don't go there expecting a solitary wilderness
experience, as the Koreans head there in their thousands every
weekend. At Odesan you can follow a trek or a bike ride through
a high arc of mountains and then down into a valley that shelter
a number of old Buddhist monasteries, including the Zen hermitage
of Sangwon-sa and then down to Woljong-sa (Moon
vitality temple), one of the best known and most beautiful
complexes in the country.
- During the spring and summer forest fires are rife in Korea
so be pre-warned that many peaks can be shut down for prolonged
periods as the vegetation is too dry to risk an errant matchstick.
However, if you call first to a local KNTO office they will
let you know where and what has been closed to visitors.
- A top tip for travellers is to drink some of the mountain
water when on the trails - these wells are delicious and
untainted and if you travel a bit beyond the beaten track
you will find a multitude of mountain springs to replenish