Tan Hoa – Facing challenges while being blessed by nature?
About Tu Lan Cave System
Some of the most beautiful and top caves in Vietnam lie in the enormous Tu Lan Cave system. This cave system is made up of over 10 marvelous caves and the river caves in this system such as Ken Cave and Tu Lan Cave are young, about 3 million years old. The higher, dry caves (dry Tu Lan and Ton Cave) are older, and date around 5 million years old. The stalactites and stalagmites are enormous and truly breathtaking. One of Vietnam’s top caves, Ken Cave, in the Tu Lan cave system, even had it’s beautiful formations featured in National Geographic by world renowned photographer Carsten Peter.
Photo: Carsten Peter
Photo: Ngo Tran Hai An
Photo: Carsten Peter
Photo: Ryan Deboodt
Photo: Ryan Deboodt
Photo: Ryan Deboodt
Back in 2014, Tan Hoa was just a village in a deprived region of Central Vietnam, also a majorly flood prone area that suffered natural disasters year after year. Historical floods that shook the country have always been a nightmare for the local people here; they drowned out houses, swept away all the fields, crops and everything that the locals ever owned.
The idea of bringing a positive change – Oxalis steps up!
Asia’s leading adventure tour operator, Oxalis Adventure, is based out of the Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park and has always reinforced the idea of “collective growth” through its actions for the local community and one of its top priorities is “Community involvement and empowerment”. Community involvement is a key element in our business strategy and apart from this, Oxalis also incorporates “Environmental Conservation” and “Safety” as one of its top priorities while conducting adventure tours in remote areas.
The fact that Oxalis Adventure employs many locals from Tan Hoa as porters for the Tu Lan Cave System adventure tours, it has also worked towards bringing a positive change to their flooding issue. Hiring locals has proven to be a great step towards eradication of environmental damage, as they fully understand that “environmental conservation” would actually benefit them and their families in the long run. In a promising attempt to diminish the plight of the Tan Hoa locals and the rest of the local community, the Oxalis Foundation came into being.
The Oxalis Foundation was created by Oxalis Adventure and aims to bring bright shades of development to the local community through improved infrastructure, skill building and prominently making way for a better tomorrow through projects that and goals that can be achieved with Oxalis Adventure’s way of operating tours, along with the undying support of customers from around the world.
Oxalis Adventure will contribute VND 3 billion (USD 135,000) to the Oxalis Foundation to support the following projects in Quang Binh in 2019, worth a total of VND 3.9 billion (USD 175,000):
1. 1000 scholarships for children (VND 1,000,000 each)
2. 200 septic toilets throughout various villages (VND 10,000,000 each)
3. 30 floating houses for protection against floods (VND 30,000,000 each)
The remaining amount of VND 900,000,000 can be acquired with customers’ help. All the funds collected through the sale of Oxalis’ affordable tour related merchandise (t-shirts, trekking pants etc.) are transferred entirely and directly to the Oxalis Foundation.
Awarding scholarships for children
Building septic toilets
Donating floating houses
Floating Houses – Concept and functionality
The initial idea and plan of building floating houses came from Oxalis Adventure. Oxalis came up with the idea of building small houses that would help the Tan Hoa locals protect themselves and their belongings in the event of a harsh flood. These small houses offer comfortable shelter and are often built next to or relatively close to the locals’ individual houses for convenience, as at the time flooding, time plays a very crucial role. Oxalis aims to build as many floating houses as they can and make sure that all the inhabitants of Tan Hoa have a floating house in the near future!
Oxalis Adventure sends the designs of the houses to the machinists and helps them in discerning the size required. In terms of building materials; Oxalis uses inox for frame and heat insulation tole for covers and roofs. Empty barrels are ordered from Ba Don or Dong Hoi and are properly attached underneath the house to allow floatation in the event of a flood. The house also has two poles set on both sides, which keep it in place during the shake and break that a flood may cause.
Each floating house costs about 30 million Vietnamese Dong and till date Oxalis Foundation has raised funds and built 58 floating houses for the locals of Tan Hoa. Oxalis often conducts fundraisers outside for this purpose and also gets a great amount of contribution through the Tu Lan Adventure Race every year. As part of Oxalis Foundation’s 2019 projects including building 200 septic toilets for local families, delivering 1000 scholarships for children in Quang Binh province, and building 30 floating houses for flooding in Tan Hoa commune. As mentioned above in the Oxalis Foundation section, this target will certainly be achieved with Oxalis Adventure’s determination and the unconditional support of its adventurers that visit from all over the world.
One day soon, the lives of the Tan Hoa locals will change for the best and everyone who visits Oxalis Adventure has the opportunity to contribute further to that; the same way Oxalis has done for years and continues doing so!
Oxalis Adventure Tours
ONE DAY TOURS
If you are seeking a taste of the caves and really don’t have enough time then we recommend a one-day cave and jungle trek. We currently have three tour options for you to select, each with a slightly different style and suitability.
• Phong Nha National Park 1-Day: Our family adventure in the Phong Nha offers a great taste of untouched jungle and impressive wild caves. It is the easiest level of adventure but there is still 5km of trekking and 2km of caving, and optional swimming during warmer weather into one cave. It’s suitable for kids from 12 and above with good fitness, and so this makes for a great day for everyone! It costs VND 1,650,000 per person (USD 72).
• Tu Lan Experience – 1 Day: This is one of our original one-day tours and still one of the best adventures in Vietnam. This one-day tour includes rock scrambling, 50m swimming through a wild river-cave, and up to 9 km of trekking through the lush jungles. You will also strap yourself in for a 15m descent down a ladder. It costs VND 1,800,000 (USD 78) per person.
• Hang Tien Discovery – 1 Day: This one-day tour is perfect for trekking enthusiasts eager to see the largest cave of Tu Lan but without time for the two-day experience. Hang Tien is a dry cave so no swimming required, but still includes up to 4km of trekking through mostly flat jungle and about 500m exploring this incredible cave that will no doubt impress with its grandeur. It costs VND 2,000,000 per person (USD 87).
TWO DAY TOURS
Our most popular cave adventures start from two-days providing an immersive jungle and caving adventure, each targeting a slightly different kind of adventure-seeker, or perfect for those who want to combine a couple of tours to see different caves and areas on one trip to Phong Nha.
• Tu Lan Cave Encounter – 2 Days: Our most popular tour exploring the famous jungle area of Tu Lan. On this overnight camping excursion, you will trek through a number of different dry caves, swim up to 500m through a couple of river caves, witness outstanding cascading waterfalls underground as featured in National Geographic, and spend the night at our jungle camp beside a gorgeous waterfall. It includes 12km of trekking and 3km of caving in total and is for those with a good adventurous spirit. It costs VND 5,500,000 per person (USD 239).
• Hang En Cave Adventure – 2 Days: For two days, this is our best-value-for-money tour that includes one of the most jaw-dropping natural landscapes you will see in this lifetime. This cave is considered the second largest cave in Vietnam and third largest in the World, and it also makes up one night of the original five-day Son Doong Cave Expedition being so close to the largest cave in the world. It includes visiting Ban Doong Ethnic Village, located in the jungle, and a magnificent campsite on a sandy beach inside the cave. It includes 22km of jungle trekking at times quite rocky, multiple knee-deep river crossings, and elevation change of 400m (the ‘hill’ you won’t forget), and 4km of caving. This is a level 3 adventure on a scale of 1 to 6. It costs VND 7,600,000 per person (USD 330).
• Hang Tien Endeavor – 2 Days: A two-day trek into the jungle to see the largest dry cave of the Tu Lan area, exploring 5.5km of this truly stunning cave, with a variety of karst formations. This 13km trek is suitable for those not too keen on cave swimming or too many hills, but still up for an adventure. This is a level 4 adventure between 1 and 6, with 6 being the most challenging. It costs VND 6,500,000 per person (USD 283).
• Hang Va Expedition – 2 Days: A technically challenging, but equally rewarding two-day caving adventure in the heart of Phong Nha National Park. This tour takes you deep into the jungle to one of the most spectacular river-caves, with formations not seen anywhere else in the world! It involves rock scrambling, wading through an underground river, bouldering and rope-traversing within the cave, to reach the rarest tower cone formations. This involves quite a lot of technical work due to safety, but is not overly difficult, it includes 10km of trekking and 3 km of caving. This is a level 4 adventure, with 6 being the highest. It costs VND 8,000,000 per person (USD 348).
Now, if you really want to increase the adventure and soak up the wild jungle of Vietnam, with plenty of time to relax and enjoy the area, we highly recommend a three-day caving tour of our Tu Lan or Hang Tien.
• Wild Tu Lan Cave Explorer – 3 Days: This tour incorporates the very best of Tu Lan with two different jungle campsites besides stunning waterfalls, 3km of cave exploring through a number of caves, 1km of cave swimming and visiting some additional areas not included on our shorter experiences. Our three-day tour is very popular and tends to be booked out so get in quick to enjoy this thrilling jungle adventure. It includes 17 km of jungle trekking and with quite a bit of swimming you will need to have a good level of fitness. It is not for the faint-hearted, but still only considered level 3 adventure level compared to level 4 of the Hang Tien 3-day tour. It costs VND 8,000,000 per person (USD 348).
• Hang Tien Exploration – 3 Days: This three-day tour stands out for combining a taste of Tu Lan with some river cave swimming, before crossing a mountain range to reach the valley for Hang Tien – the most astounding dry caves in the region, where you will enjoy trekking, bouldering over various rocky terrains to witnessing breathtaking patterned calcite walls & ceilings of Hang Tien. It’s challenging and definitely more suited to adventure enthusiasts who have trekking experience and prefer more challenging routes. It includes a total of 22km of trekking, 6.5 km of caving and an elevation change of 150m over one particular hillside. You will get wet, you will be challenged, but you will not be disappointed. Hang Tien is located adjacent to the Tu Lan area so you will enjoy the best of both worlds – a level 4 adventure out of 6 adventure levels. It costs VND 8,500,000 per person (USD 370).
FOUR & FIVE-DAY TOURS
For those looking for the ultimate adventure experience in Vietnam, and thriving for the real grand expedition of the world, you should opt for these 4-day journeys to explore the entire cave system of Tu Lan and the largest cave on Earth
• Tu Lan Expedition – 4 Days: You will also explore all of the extraordinary caves in Tu Lan, including Kim Cave and Secret Cave that boasts phenomenal natural falls and karst formations inside these two unbelievable river caves. Complete a trek through Hang Tien Cave – famed for its vastness and magnificent formations. Our secluded jungle campsites are spectacular and mostly different from those visited on our shorter treks in the same region. This is a perfect alternative expedition for those who are unable to do Son Doong Expedition, still it’s challenging and not recommended for those without experience. It includes an additional night at Chay Lap Farmstay before the tour to ensure you are well rested and ready to depart early the following day. Level 5 on our 6 adventure levels. It includes 30km of jungle trekking, 5 km of caving, about 800m swimming through caves and one abseil in a cave in the pitch black – highly adventurous! It costs VND 15,000,000 per person (USD 652).
• Son Doong Expedition – 4 Days: By now you would have seen some pictures of Son Doong Cave, and even they don’t do it justice. The record-breaking Son Doong Cave is hands-down one of the most stunning places on this planet Earth. The expedition is tough, but not too difficult so long as you have a strong resolve to achieve. It is surely one of the newest wonders of the world. Son Doong is not just another cave tour – it is life-changing to say the least. It includes 25km of trekking, 9 km caving including rope climbs, and the 90m ascent of the Great Wall of Vietnam using a ladder, elevation change of 400m and many river crossings inside and outside the cave. Level 6 on our adventure levels. It costs VND 69,800,000 per person (USD 3000).
STILL HAVE QUESTIONS? Visit our FAQs section where we have a lot of answers for your questions and concerns. https://oxalis.com.vn/faq-general/
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