In the heart of Vietnam’s Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park – listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO – is a three million year old cave, which was discovered not long ago. At a length of approximately nine kilometers, Hang Son Doong is believed to be the largest cave in the world. It is funny that more number of people have climbed the tallest mountain on the planet than have experienced the fascinating beauty inside this cave. Earlier called ‘Watch out for Dinosaurs’, a visit to this place is a must for every adventure seeker.
When translated in English, Hang Son Doong means Mountain River Caver. The cave was first discovered by a local farmer named Ho Khanh in 1990, who seeked shelter from a storm in the jungle. Inside the cave, he saw clouds and heard river gushing down. He found it pretty strange, so he reported to the British Caving Research Association (BCRA), stationed in that region. When he leaded the team to to show them the cave, he was unable to find the particular location. But the official discovery was postponed, not lost.
18 years later, whilst hunting for food, Ho Khanh again stumbled upon the entrance of the cave. He returned in 2009 with two officials of BCRA. The exploration process was started with immediate effect, and in the following year, it was determined to be the largest cave ever discovered.
Hang Son Doong was opened for public for the first time in 2013. Oxalis is the only company which runs the adventurous expedition. The government’s decision to limit the number of tour operators to just one has protected the cave from rapid development. Every week from February to August, one tour takes place. Each tour comprises of not more than 10 people. The expedition, which lasts for four days, is certainly not for the faint hearted. However, it is worth the money and time.
The expedition begins with a two-day physically demanding trek across a jungle and crossing a river to enter the cave. Once inside, trekkers have to climb, crawl, swim, and abseil to reach the end of the cave. The total trek is of more than 50 kilometers in length. While the entire expedition is quite difficult, guests are taken care of.
They are provided with two chefs, two caving experts, three local guides, two park rangers, and 20 porters. The safety of the guests and the welfare of the environment is of utmost importance to the trip organizing company.
The 4D/5N expedition costs USD 3,000 per person, the experience of a world inside a world will leave you absolutely enchanted with its ethereal beauty and raw adventure.