Located in southern Vietnam, Son Doong is known as the largest cave passage in the world, five times larger than the largest known cave at the time. As part of Truong Son mountain range, such cave is created by an underground river slowly eroded soft limestone massifs across hundred thousands of years. In this journey, The Finest will take you going through one of the most majestic wonders in the world.
The story started when a local farmer had found this cave in 1991 but it only became famous in 2009 when a group of British explorers discovered its entrance behind dense foliage in Phong Nha Ke Bang national park. Misty clouds cover the whole scene as a result of the cave’s own localized weather system.
A majestic landscape may be opened with a wide range of stalagmites in different shapes since visitors put the first footprint inside. The biggest chambers of Son Doong is more than five kilometres long and even enough for a Boeing 747 flying through it. The National Geographic even stated that a 40-story building can be fitted into the cave.
The first impression of the cave is the spectacular view of sunlight streaming through the skylight in “Hand of Dog”, which is a giant stalagmite represents the dog’s paw. Then, the barren, rocky ground transformed into a shimmering carpet of lime-green moss as visitors crossed the exposed section humorously known as “Watch out for dinosaurs”. A wonderful landscape of jungle underground is ensured to impressed all travellers. These are only visible inside Son Doong at certain times of the year, and to have clean skies at the right part of the day is a gamble. But the results are totally worth, since this is the best spot in Son Doong cave to take picture.
Meanwhile, the second doline which was known as “Garden of Edam” holds tall trees and a natural habitat similar to the jungle above which is more favorable for birds and other animals. Many of species were found in there are listed on the Red list of Threatened Species.
Scientists estimated the formation of this cave began from two to five million years ago in the Pilocene or late Miocene geological era.
The cave is also the jackpot of extremely rare cave pearls. This natural phenomenon has been formed for hundreds of year, when dripping water created layers of calcite that built up around grains of sand, and enlarging over time. Following the path passing the pearls, trekkers will reach the Great Wall of Vietnam, which is a 100-meter stalagmite wall. The wall is six kilometers deep into the cave and is praised as a masterpiece of nature by travellers, with its majestic view to the second doline, and its diversity in fauna. Various new invertebrates have been discovered in this passage, including white spider, woodlouse, some fish and shrimp species.
Climbing the Great Wall of Vietnam
From this on, hikers can choose to end the trip and get out through the Great Wall exit, or to return to the cave entrance in a slightly different route through a small passage above an underground river. On the way climbing down, trekkers will encounter The Fossil Passage, where you can witness 350 million years old coral fossils. On the way back to the entrance, you can take photo of the National Geographic‘s view point, which can be arranged for those who are interested in.
Setting foot on the wonderful cave is probably one of the most privileges that a few can afford, due to the requirement of health and budget. Currently, there is only one company has the license to offer tours to Son Doong cave, the local Oxalis company. The cave is opened to ten trekkers each time, and it will cost about US $3,000 for 5 days, and another US $1,000 for safety equipments and tour guides from the British Cave Research Associations. What a good price for an outstanding adventure.
Image source: Ryan Deboodt