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SON DOONG CAVE: NEW UNDERWATER PASSAGE TO BE EXPLORED

Caving experts are preparing to dive a 600m unexplored river passage of Son Doong Cave with the hope of finding a connection between Son Doong Cave and a nearby river cave, clearly making this much bigger than its current title of World’s Largest Cave.

Son Doong Cave

Son Doong Cave

Oxalis Adventure Tours and members of the British Cave Research Association are preparing an expedition to explore an underwater passage discovered in Son Doong Cave. It is expected that this smaller passage will connect to nearby Thung Cave, which was explored back in 1994, and which also has a great river running through the cave.

Howard Limbert, a member of the British Cave Research Association, and Technical Director with Oxalis Adventure Tours, said about the caves, “when we discovered Son Doong Cave in 2009 and completed its survey in 2010, we realised that the final end of the river in the cave was just 600m in a straight line from the end of Thung Cave”.

The team spent the past eight years thinking about different methods to determine where this passage leads, but it was decided that only with a dive could they truly explore and map this section of the cave. A physical connection is the best way to prove these two caves are one. The date of the dive has now been confirmed for early April , 2019, when river conditions are expected to be ideal.

Limbert commented on the difficulty of the dive, “it will not be easy as it is a big river in a relatively small passage and hence the current will be strong”. Thus the team have invited four of the best cave divers in the world, Rick Stanton, John Volanthen, Jason Mallinson and Chris Jewell, who were all critical players in the cave rescue operation of the young boys in Thailand this past July, 2018. This diving team will also be joined by local caving expert Martin Holroyd, who is currently a safety guide on the current Son Doong Cave tourist expeditions, organized by Oxalis Adventure Tours.

In addition to the cave diving team, a number of support crew will join the trek, including 10 local porters, who will assist in carrying additional oxygen tanks, a compressor, and all equipment necessary to establish a mini-base camp inside Son Doong Cave. These local porters are all well trained having worked alongside with the BCRA team over the past 10-15 years exploring caves in the region.

Limbert added, ‘being the best divers in the world we really think they can be successful in joining these two caves hence making Son Doong Cave even bigger than before.

On the size of the cave, the present length of Son Doong Cave is 9km or 5.6 miles, with an average passage size of 67.2m, and an overall volume of 38.8 million cubic meters. Now, the length of Thung Cave is 3.3km or 2 miles, with a smaller average passage size of 22m, and an overall volume of 1.6 million cubic meters.

Therefore, the total volume of the cave if connected by this passage, would be over 40.4 million cubic meters in addition to the connection passage. Whilst Son Doong is already the largest in overall size, that volume would also be greater than any cave in the world at present, with Clearwater Cave in Mulu National Park being 39.5 million cubic meters in size, making Son Doong Cave the largest cave in the world by both its size and volume.

Participants of the expedition are all caving enthusiasts who respect and admire these underground marvels of nature. Strict guidelines will be followed to ensure the ecosystem of the cave is maintained and formations are not damaged in any way.

Oxalis is seeking partners to assist with this research expedition, particularly media partners who are interested in documenting this incredible discovery, and what may exist within this underwater passage between Son Doong Cave and Thung Cave.

Please send an email to [email protected] with an introduction to your company and how you might contribute to the project.

 

Phong Nha Ke Bang Cave System showing the distance between Hang Son Doong and Hang Thung

 

View original expedition by National Geographic below:

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-DayOur 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 DayThis 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 DayThis 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 DaysOur 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 DaysFor 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 DaysA 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 DaysA 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).

THREE-DAY TOURS

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 DaysThis 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 DaysThis 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 DaysYou 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 DaysBy 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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