The once mighty falls of Gougah have been tempered by the construction of a dam and reservoir nearby. As the water has subsided so too have the visitors. Today, Gougah is yet another abandoned tourist site: picnic tables lie covered in moss and fallen leaves, statues of ethnic minorities have toppled over, concrete figures on horseback stand proud but beheaded in the lush gardens, cows graze where tourists once gazed, and overgrown pathways no longer reach their intended viewpoints. But, this waterfall still possesses a roar, albeit muted, that makes a visit worthwhile. As with Bo Bla waterfall, I see the dereliction and decay of Gougah as a positive. When the falls were at full strength and tourists visited by the busload I would have turned my nose up at this site. Now that it’s forgotten, quiet and serene, I can enjoy this waterfall and its attractive surroundings in peace, while also wallowing in the – strangely appealing – sense of melancholy and nostalgia here. There’s something sad about a waterfall losing its vitality, of course, but there’s also something compelling about a deserted amusement area.
The waterfall is very wide but the water only flows down a fraction of its width. There’s a jade-green tinge to the water here which, from a distance, is very arresting, but up close appears to be a kind of slimy algae. Gougah waterfall flows into a large lake, hemmed in by a high wall of black rock. There are paths down to the lake shore which is a good spot for a picnic. Another path leads across the top of the falls, right at the edge of the drop. Nowadays, the flow is so gentle that it’s possible to traverse this precarious path, but 10 years ago, when the waterfall still thundered, several tourists lost their lives here. Gougah waterfall is 35km south of Dalat off Highway 20. The falls are signposted (but the faded sign is easy to miss) to the left (due east) a few minutes after passing through Liên Nghĩa. The turning is directly opposite a gas station called ‘Gougah’. It’s a fairly easy drive by rented motorbike from Dalat or you could hire a driver to take you here. From Dalat it’s just over an hour’s journey to the falls. [MAP]
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