Son Doong Exploration Tour 5Days
Son Doong Cave, a cave belongs to the Phong Nha-Ke Bang grotto system in central Quang Binh Province, has been discovered to be the biggest in the world.
Son Doong cave discovered by a local 18 years ago, is more than 200 meters wide, 150 meters high, and at least 6.5 kilometers long, though the explorers said they were unable to explore it fully. Bristish explorers have recently discovered that So Dong is much larger than the world’s biggest known cave. The biggest section of Son Dong is five kilometers in length, 200 meters high and 150 meters wide, said Howard Limbirt of the British Cave Research Association team searching the area April 10-14, 2009. Son Doong is much larger than Deer Cave in Malaysia, currently considered the world’s largest, an explorer said (Deer is 90 meters wide, 100 meters high and 2 kilometers long). The Son Doong cave has replaced to take pole position as the world’s largest cave.
The Son Doong is situated below another cave in Phong Nha-Ke Bang, though its entry passage is very difficult to traverse. The exploration team said they had set foot on just 6.5 kilometers along the cave, as there is a large amount of fast flowing water inside Son Doong. It takes explorers six hours of walking through a 10 kilometer long forest path from Truong Son Highway to reach the mouth of Son Doong cave. The explorer added that the Quang Binh cave has beautiful stalactites and stalagmites that are not seen anywhere else. Phong Nha-Ke Bang grotto system belongs to the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. It is a limestone region of 2,000 square kilometers in Vietnam and borders another limestone area in Hin Nammo in Laos. When describing the newly-discovered cave, the team’s spokesman, Haward Limbirt, said that it was a thing of overwhelming beauty and grandeur. He added that each grotto has its own beauty, but he is impressed by Ca Xai. This cave is near the Vietnam-Laos border. It is very deep and has a big lake inside. Explorers measured the depth of this lake, but they had only 200m of rope and the end didn’t reach the lake bed. The British team suggested to the local authorities not to develop Son Doong Cave as a tourism site immediately to preserve its natural beauty.
Experience the World’s Largest Cave with a team of safety experts, professional guides and porters on this world-class tour of Hang Son Doong. This caving adventure is suitable for budding explorers, trekkers and photographers with a thirst for the ultimate adventure!
Explore the fascinating secrets of the newly discovered Son Doong Cave on this once-in-lifetime opportunity offered . In a small team of up to eight guests, you’ll trek deep in the remote jungle of Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park, cross stunning river valleys, meet the friendly Bru VanKieu minority people of Doong Village, and bear witness to incredible cave formations unlike anywhere else in the world.
More like a mini-expedition, a team of more than 16 porters, safety experts and guides will accompany you on your six-day adventure, with two nights camping in magnificent Hang En and three nights in the World’s largest cave, Hang Son Doong.
Safety is absolutely paramount on all trips and hence two of the very best caving experts from the UK will accompany each tour of Son Doong Cave. Ropes, safety harnesses, lights and helmets are necessary to enter Son Doong and these are all provided from European manufacturers such as Petzl and Mammut.
Camping gear is provided and will be setup for guests upon arrival at each campsite. A team of porters will carry all gear and assist you with your own gear to ensure you can comfortably maneuver your way through the cave on each day.
We are committed to cave conservation, and hope to preserve the beauty of Son Doong Cave for future visitors and have hence imposed a number of rules to ensure no damage is caused to any cave formations or the general cave ecosystem. Composting toilets are used at each campsite and all rubbish and waste removed at the completion of each tour of Son Doong.
Transfers to/from Dong Hoi (Hotel/Airport/Train Station)
Accommodation during Tour (2 nights hotel + 5 nights camping)
All food and drink during the tour (tea/coffee/drinking water/wine).
Expert cave instructors to guide on safety equipment and caving techniques.
English speaking Vietnamese guide to provide local knowledge about area and caves.
Experienced caving porters who will carry all the food, camping and caving equipment, set up camp and prepare meals.
Caving equipment: SRT Ropes, karabiners, safety harnesses, caving helmets and lights, trekking boots, drinking bottle.
First Aid Kit and Rescue equipment
Walkie-talkies and Satellite telephone
Camping equipment: tents, sleeping bags and mattresses.
National Park permit and entry fees
Value Added Tax (VAT)
The following is not included within the tour price:
Generator/Fuel for Charging Cameras etc.
Accommodation before and after the tour dates.
Activity: Trekking, caving, river crossings, underground camps
- Operating: from Feb to Aug (closed from Sep to Jan)
- Duration: 5 days / 4 nights (plus 1 night before and 1 night after the expedition)
- Adventure Level: Difficult (50+ km) for physically active guests.
- Availability: Weekly Departures
- Small Group Tours: max 10 guests per departure
- Minimum Age: 18 years
Dong Hoi – Safety Briefing – Local hotel in Phong Nha
Arrive in Dong Hoi by no later than the afternoon (no later than 4 pm) of the briefing day where you will be met by a member of our team and transferred to Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park.
You’ll be dropped off at TLV Home hotel or Ho Khanh Homestay where you’ll have the rest of the day to rest, relax and wander around the village. You will be required to purchase your own breakfast and lunch on this first day.
Around 5:30 pm you will congregate in the hotel restaurant where you’ll meet your cave experts and guide team for your safety briefing and equipment check.
Please have all belongings you’ll be taking on the trek prepared before the safety briefing, as immediately after the briefing we will collect everyone’s belongings in individually labeled large plastic bags, and send them to our porters to prepare for the following day.
You will receive your belongings each evening once you get to your campsite. Therefore, anything you want to take with you during the day you should keep in a separate backpack (e.g. cameras, tripods etc.).
Before dinner, you will be given your helmet for the trip; the helmet will then be your responsibility for the duration of the tour. Enjoy dinner with your team at around 7:30 pm at TLV headquarter, after which you will be transferred back to your hotel for a good night’s sleep.
Day1: Phong Nha – Ban Doong Village – Hang En Cave
Enjoy breakfast at 8:00 am with your guide before departing at 9:00 am for the first leg of the expedition. You’ll leave extra luggage and any valuables at the TLV headquarters before heading to pick up the porter team and setting off for adventure.
After a 45 minute drive along Road 20 of the Ho Chi Minh Highway you’ll reach the trailhead, where you’ll start trekking for approximately 1 hour downhill through the forest, which is quite steep at times.
Walk for half an hour along a small stream to the minority village of Ban Doong, which is a real highlight for many on this expedition. Learn more about this unique ethnic group of people and enjoy lunch beside a small river.
After this point, you will be in the sun all afternoon with about 2 hours along a river, with very little shade. You’ll cross the river many times and so please expect to have wet feet for the whole day. In the summer, the water is only usually knee deep, but Gore-Tex boots will fill and hold the water so therefore they are not recommended.
You’ll then reach the entrance to Hang En Cave, home to thousands of swifts. Here you’ll be given your headlight and you will trek/boulder approximately 20-30 minutes to your campsite inside the cave.
The group should arrive at camp by 3:00 pm where you can enjoy swimming and washing within the underground river. Dinner will be served at the spectacular campsite with numerous photographic opportunities.
Anyone who is unable to complete any stage of this first day comfortably will be turned around to Phong Nha and will not be permitted to continue the expedition. This will be the decision of the cave experts on your tour. Should you be turned around, all tour costs will be forfeited.
Day2: Hang En Cave – Son Doong Entrance – Hand of Dog – SD Camp 1
You’ll again begin your day with a delicious breakfast at around 8:00 am. You’ll be in for a very tough day today so its best to enjoy a big breakfast, as you’ll need your energy!
Start your trek at 9:00 am through Hang En Cave for about 30 mins to reach the magnificent exit, made famous by many photographers over the past few years. You’ll scramble down to the river valley and then it’s an hour walk through the river, so your boots are going to be wet for most of the day; it is unavoidable, yet part of the fun!
You’ll then start climbing a steep hill for about 45 minutes with some rocky sections to start. At the top of the hill you’ll enjoy lunch, a safety briefing and fit your safety harness and prepare for your big journey underground! A steep descent with a couple of short rope climbs brings you at last to Son Doong entrance.
With your safety harnesses, you’ll then start the 80 m descent into the cave by making a number of short climbs, using ropes and safety lines with your guides’ assistance. There is no rappelling or abseiling at any point during the expedition. You’ll then enjoy a few more climbs and bouldering to reach the first and second river crossings inside the cave, which are no more than knee-to-thigh deep depending on the water levels. You should have a wash here, as it will be the last washing place for the day.
On your way to the first campsite in the first large passage of the cave, you’ll have to be extra careful as there are a number of big drops and scrambling over boulders along a rocky path before reaching one of the most spectacular views: Hand of Dog and daylight streaming through the cave thanks to the first doline! You will then scramble down to the first campsite of Son Doong around 3 – 4 pm and have the afternoon to soak up the views and rest your weary bodies. You’re in for another big meal with your team before turning in for the night.
Please note that there are no washing facilities at camp on this day.
Day3: SD Camp 1 – Watch out for Dinosaurs - Great Wall of Vietnam – SD Camp 2
Your day begins with a hearty breakfast with your team before a 9:00 am departure towards your second campsite in Son Doong Cave.
You’ll start with some rocky climbs, which are quite steep in some places, as you reach the first jungle within the cave at Watch Out for Dinosaurs. It will take about 1.5 hrs to travel within the cave from Camp 1 to Watch Out for Dinosaurs. After a short break you’ll be trotting down the rocky path to reach the enormous Green Gours, one of the most magnificent and famous photography spots on the tour!
A light lunch is provided with an incredible backdrop of the first doline. If you are lucky you may even catch some sunbeams, which make for truly spectacular photos!
It is then an easy walk through the cave past gigantic formations and plenty of cave pearls towards the light of the second doline and main jungle within the cave. Follow the path past the beautiful foliage reaching towards the light, to reach the underground jungle, unlike anything you could experience on the planet! Cross the jungle for around 45 minutes to reach the steep and sometimes slippery path down to your second campsite within Son Doong Cave. You will reach camp around 2 – 3 pm.
After a short rest at your campsite, you are back on your feet and heading deeper within the cave towards the Great Wall of Vietnam. You’ll pass through a very large dry passage with huge stalagmites and great views back to the second doline. Many new creepy crawlies have been discovered within this passage including white spiders, fish, woodlouse and shrimp species, so be sure to keep your eyes open.
You will reach at this point either a very large beautiful underground lake (where you’ll then paddle to reach the Great Wall of Vietnam) or you will find a fantastically adventurous muddy pit (at which you will need to trudge your way through for a few hundred meters to reach the wall). It is entirely optional if you wish to go further and reach the actual wall, as you will get very dirty in the mud and there are no bathing facilities on this day at camp (pack plenty of wet wipes if you decide on the plunge!).
You’ll be back at camp again around 6 pm to enjoy a sensational dinner with your team and delight yourself with an evening of games and entertainment, or simply relax and soak up the views at what is quite possibly the very best campsite in the world.
Quick note: you may use a pair of dry boots on this day, as aside from the mud, there are no water crossings!
Day4: SD Camp 2 – Fossil Passage – Nat Geo View Point – Hang En Cave
After refueling with another hot breakfast you’ll pack up camp and start heading back to the first doline, with a slightly different route through a small oxbow passage above the underground river with a very steep drop, where you will need to use a rope and safety line.
Once you have reached the first campsite around 11 am, you’ll have time for a short break before climbing down to the ancient fossil passage, where you will witness 350 million year old coral fossils! Enjoy a small wash in the pools and a hearty lunch before descending back to the main passage, crossing the river twice and proceeding to climb up to the entrance, again strapped in with your harness and safety lines.
Your group will appear out from the entrance of Son Doong around 2 – 3 pm, at which point you’ll have a chance to enjoy a small break and some snacks. Then head back towards the river valley, where you can enjoy a well-deserved and refreshing wash. Walk along the river back to Hang En for your final evening and celebration with porter team at this underground campsite. Feel free to bring any entertaining games or fun activities such as Jenga, a frisbee, card games, etc for everyone to join in together.
Day5: Hang En Cave – Ban Doong Village – Phong Nha
Wake up early and start your 10 km trek back to Road 20 after breakfast. You’ll follow the river along the valley and back through Ban Doong Village. You will enjoy snacks and fruit along the way before starting on what is quite a difficult climb back up the mountain for the last hour of your big adventure. Cold drinks await you at the top of the hill before a 45 minute drive back to Phong Nha. You will have a brief stop at the office to collect your luggage and valuables before transferring to a local hotel in Phong Nha.
You can then enjoy the shower you’ve been awaiting for so long, or you could even go for a dip in the river. In the evening, you can enjoy a group farewell dinner with your fellow expedition team members.
Please advise our sales team in advance of your departure time for the following day so that they so they can arrange the logistics of your transfer back to the airport or train station. If you would like to extend your holiday in Phong Nha, let our team know so that we can assist you in booking extra nights at the hotel.
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