Sorae Swamp Ecological Park, popular with birds and tourists

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A photo area at the Sorae Swamp Ecological Park (Lee Si-jin/The Korea Herald)

INCHEON — As the cold winter pulls away and the government eases social distancing rules, people are more interested than ever in traveling to enjoy spring.

But as the country experiences the worst wave of the pandemic, surpassing 10 million cases last week, many people are trying to enjoy simple outdoor activities in open spaces with few people.

Sorae Marsh Ecological Park, about 40 kilometers from Seoul in Incheon’s Namdong-gu, was established in 2009, replacing the old port of Sorae and its nearby salt farms, which were closed in 1996. The 1,561 square meter park has become a popular tourist destination and a habitat for migratory birds and marine life.

Visitors walk through the reed fields of the Sorae Swamp Ecological Park on March 18. (Lee Si-jin/The Korea Herald)

Areas of tidal flats are visible after crossing the Soyeom Bridge near the park entrance.  (Lee Si-jin/The Korea Herald)

Areas of tidal flats are visible after crossing the Soyeom Bridge near the park entrance. (Lee Si-jin/The Korea Herald)

Separated into four different areas, the Sorae Swamp Ecological Park has four trails that lead visitors to different areas of the park – Circle Trail, Salt Pond Trail, Reed Trail and Swamp Trail.

A 5-minute walk from the park entrance at Soyeom Bridge, an exhibition hall welcomes visitors.

Open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., the free permanent exhibition traces the history of the park.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, a cafe on the second and third floors of the building provided a place to enjoy panoramic views of the park.

The Sorae Swamp Ecological Park Exhibition Hall (Lee Si-jin/The Korea Herald)

The Sorae Swamp Ecological Park Exhibition Hall (Lee Si-jin/The Korea Herald)

The vast field of reeds and the salty pond create a spectacular view against the backdrop of mountains and high-rise apartment buildings.

While energetic cyclists pedal along the circular path that circles the park, some hikers and visitors head to the park’s wooden deck from where they can get a closer look at the reeds.

Although the autumn season has passed, the soft sunlight brings out the golden hue of the reeds which dance lightly with the gentle spring breeze.

“The place is a bit quiet today, but I see more parents with their children and couples hanging out at the park. We are approaching spring,” a visitor in her 60s told the Korea Herald on March 18.

“With the incredible views and wide roads where you can walk freely, I believe Sorae Park has many visitors who want to enjoy outdoor activities in a safe environment, including residents living in nearby apartments. , like me,” she added.

Visitors can enjoy another stunning view of the area from the top of a three-story observatory, which is a 15-minute walk from the entrance along the reed path.

A panoramic view of reed fields and swamps from the top of a three-story observatory (Lee Si-jin/The Korea Herald)

A panoramic view of reed fields and swamps from the top of a three-story observatory (Lee Si-jin/The Korea Herald)

While walking on an unpaved road between the reed and marsh fields, one can observe migratory birds resting in the ecological park.

There are six wooden cabins and a bird-watching deck that allow visitors to get a closer look at wildlife, with some windows lowered for children. Visitors are recommended to bring their own binoculars for bird watching, including mallards, lesser ringed plovers and great cormorants.

Mallard ducks swim across a small lake in the Sorae Swamp Ecological Park on March 18.  (Lee Si-jin/The Korea Herald)

Mallard ducks swim across a small lake in the Sorae Swamp Ecological Park on March 18. (Lee Si-jin/The Korea Herald)

After passing the two bird-watching bridges, a dirt road joins the circular path and brings visitors back to the entrance.

“Although interesting programs, including an outdoor footbath and a salt farm experience, are closed due to COVID-19, we are preparing to offer an interesting experience to our visitors, such as the installation of the bridge extra near tidal areas,” a park official told the Korea Herald.

Reeds sway in the gentle spring breeze (Lee Si-jin/The Korea Herald)

Reeds sway in the gentle spring breeze (Lee Si-jin/The Korea Herald)

“The completion date has not yet been announced, but we hope to complete the installation by the fall,” the official added.

By Lee Si-jin (sj_lee@heraldcorp.com)

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