World's Largest Cave, Son Doong, Prepping For First Public T

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World's Largest Cave, Son Doong, Prepping For First Public T

Postby DirtDoc » Sep 9, 2013 6:40 pm

World's Largest Cave, Son Doong, Prepping For First Public Tours
Cavers should watch this Huffington Post video - the reporters don't have a clue ------

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/0 ... 73341.html

News Releases from Phong Nha - Ke Bang National Park, Vietnam

First foreign tourist group explores Son Doong Cave
Thursday, 29 August 2013 06:02 This is the first foreign tourist group to have fully explored the world's largest cave. The group comprised of six members from USA, Russia, Australia and Norway. After spending seven days and six nights inside the cave, the foreign tourist group returned to Son Trach Commune. On behalf of leaders of Quang Binh Province, Tran Tien Dung awarded certificates to the six member group.

Vietnamese woman spends US$3,000 to see Son Doong Cave
Thursday, 29 August 2013 05:58 To mark her thirtieth birthday, a Vietnamese woman spent US$3,000 on a tour of Son Doong Cave--the world largest cave. Nguyen M.H, a freelance advertising executive working in Ho Chi Minh City, was determined to do something extraordinary to mark her thirtieth birthday.She decided to spend US$3,000 on an adventure tour of Son Doong Cave in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park with other Japanese and Canadian holidaymaker and US photographer Ryan Deboodt to see the inside of the world’s largest cave. Earlier, a foreign tourist group had been the first to explore the Son Doong Cave.

QUANG BINH (VNS)--
Sunday, 16 June 2013 09:11 The People's Committee of the central province of Quang Binh has approved an experimental adventure tour to Son Doong Cave suggested by Howard Limbert, expert of the British Cave Research Association. Limbert recommended that due to unexplored nature of cave, the trial tours, to be held twice a month should consist of a group of only seven or eight visitors. Son Doong Cave, found in 1991 in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, is considered the largest cave in the world. It contains a large fast-flowing underground river inside its walls. A group of British scientists from the British Cave Research Association, led by Limbert, conducted a survey in 2009. Limbert also stated in addition to ensuring the safety of the tourists, authorities and travel companies should protect the primary site and the surrounding ecological environment. Exploration of the cave is preferential in dry season, between February and August. The trial tours will be launched next year before operating officially.

Good images:
The photo gallery on the site of the cave itself:
http://www.sondoongcave.org/

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COMMENTS:

Some of you know that we have been over there the last two years, although we did not actually get into "The Big One". It was not permitted at the time as political and practical realities were shaking out. We do know the country and many of the people.

It will be interesting to see how many takers they have at that price, especially after the first rush of adventurers. It is a unique resource, after all. The advertised price is $3000 per person for a minimum group of 6. Included is all training, supplies, transportation, guides, and equipment for 6 days. You do have to pass some physical tests in order to go in. The first group of "adventure tourists" went in August 2013. The Park officials have limited visitation to 220 permits for 2014. You can do the math ------.

For a couple of years, in the dryer season (February-April), they have been offering three day treks to Son Doong. It's about 15 km trek through the jungle to another big cave (Hang En), where you sleep . Next day hike over to the entrance of Son Doong and look in, but do not enter. Then walk back to Hang En for a second night. Hike out the third day.

The planning to open the cave to "all comers" on a week-long trip has raised considerable concerns, not only about operating inside a World Heritage Site and protecting the cave, but to assure the safety of the visitors. The last few years has seen the training of competent Vietnamese guides under the tutelage of Howard Limbert, the Brit who has been exploring there for the last 20 years. (Howard met with our group of cavers last November and reviewed the history of his explorations - we also met some of the guides.)

For more details about the guide services and offered trips, see the Oxalis web site: http://www.oxalis.com.vn/ Oxalis also offers other cave and karst tours at lesser cost. It IS phenomenal karst country.

The comment about a 80-100 meter entrance rappel is also in the National Geographic video that aired a couple of years ago:

The National Geographic 45-minute video special in HD, found at:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWaKRjTbZdI

If you have trouble viewing that, it is also available at lower resolution in three parts on YouTube:
Segment 1:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uUXw40R- ... re=related
Segment 2:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vi-6MflQ ... re=related
Segment 3:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FkmeHBqG ... re=related

Yes, you CAN enter the cave that way. However, a careful reading of Howard Limbert's description of their taking the National Geographic crew into the cave reveals that they were able to rig the entrance as a 60 meter down-climb without actually using SRT. It is unclear how the adventure tours are going in and out of the cave. It is probable they will rappel in (Wheee!) and climb out via the non-SRT route.

The behind the scenes discussion of caving and making the National Geographic video and article of Son Doong from a caver's perspective has been posted: http://www.vietnamcaves.com/report-2010

If you want to review what we were doing poking around the karst of SE Asia in 2011, you can read it on the Cave Chat Blog: viewtopic.php?f=8&t=13148

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