A photo zone at the Sorae Marsh Ecological Park (Lee Si-jin/The Korea Herald)
INCHEON -- As the cold winter steps aside and the government eases social distancing rules, people are more interested than ever in traveling to enjoy the spring.
But with the country experiencing the worst wave of the pandemic, surpassing 10 million cases last week, many people are trying to enjoy simple outdoor activities at open spaces with few crowds.
The Sorae Marsh Ecological Park, about 40 kilometers from Seoul in Incheon’s Namdong-gu, was created in 2009, replacing the former Sorae Port and its nearby salt farms, which were closed in 1996. The 1,561-square-meter park has become a popular destination for tourists, and a habitat for migratory birds and marine life.
Visitors take a stroll across the reed fields of the Sorae Marsh Ecological Park on March 18. (Lee Si-jin/The Korea Herald)
Tidal flat areas are visible after crossing Soyeom Bridge near the entrance of the park. (Lee Si-jin/The Korea Herald)
Separated into four different areas, the Sorae Marsh Ecological Park has four paths taking visitors to different areas of the park - circular path, salt pond path, reed path and marsh path.
After a 5-minute walk from the park’s entrance at Soyeom Bridge, an exhibition hall welcomes visitors.
Open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., the free permanent exhibition details the history of the park.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, a cafe on the building’s second and third floors provided a place to enjoy a panoramic view of the park.
The Sorae Marsh Ecological Park’s exhibition hall (Lee Si-jin/The Korea Herald)
The vast reed field and salt pond create a spectacular view against the background of mountains and high-rise apartment buildings.
While energetic bike riders pedal along the circular trail that loops around the entire park, some trekkers and visitors head to the park’s wooden deck from where they can take a closer look at the reeds.
Though the autumn season has passed, the soft sunlight brings out the golden hue of the reeds that dance lightly with the gentle spring breeze.
“The place is a little quiet today, but I see more parents with their children and couples dating at the park. We are getting close to spring,” a female visitor in her 60s told The Korea Herald on March 18.
“With the amazing views and wide roads where you can walk freely, I think the Sorae Park has many visitors who wish to enjoy outdoor activities in a safe environment, including the residents living in nearby apartments, like myself,” she added.
Visitors can enjoy another sweeping view of the area from the top of a three-story observatory, which stands a 15-minute walk away from the entrance along the reed trail.
A panoramic view of the reed and marsh fields from the top of three-story observatory (Lee Si-jin/The Korea Herald)
Walking on an unpaved road between the reed and marsh fields, one can observe migrating birds taking a rest in the ecological park.
There are six wooden huts and a bird-observation deck that let visitors get a closer view of the wildlife, with some of the windows set lower for children. Visitors are recommended to bring their own binoculars to watch the birds, which include mallards, little ringed plovers, great cormorants.
Mallards swim across a small lake at the Sorae Marsh Ecological Park on March 18. (Lee Si-jin/The Korea Herald)
After passing the two birdwatching decks, a dirt road joins the circular path and leads the visitors back to the entrance.
“Though interesting programs, including outdoor foot bath and salt farm experience, are closed due to the COVID-19, we are getting ready to offer an interesting experience to our visitors, like the installation of the additional deck near the tidal flat areas,” a park official told The Korea Herald.
Reeds sway in the gentle spring breeze (Lee Si-jin/The Korea Herald)
“The completion date is yet to be announced, but we hope to finish the installation by autumn,” the official added.
By Lee Si-jin (email@example.com