By DEAN HORVATH
“Where No Man Has Gone Before”
There are precious few adventures left in the world where you can truly go “where no man has gone before”. Even the peak of Mount Everest, once thought to be unobtainable, is so well traveled that there’s even been a wine tasting on the route up the mountain.
The caves at Hang Son Doong in central Vietnam, on the other hand, still fit that description. This is the largest cave in the world, and up until August 2013, no tourist had ever seen the inside. Visitor numbers to the cave are strictly limited to 244 per year and we’re one of only a handful of travel companies with access to the local tour guides.
A Saudi Prince Visits
The Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Sheikh bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan was the first person to visit the cave in 2014. He described it as “the most meaningful trip” of his around-the-world tours.
Discovered in 2009
Hang Son Doong (“Mountain River Cave” in Vietnamese) was originally discovered by a local village boy named Ho Khanh who stumbled upon the cave in the early 1990’s. Twenty years later, in 2009, he assisted the group of researchers to locate the long-forgotten entrance.
Up until August 2013, the cave was closed to everyone but scientists and journalists. Since then, a very limited number of visitors have been allowed camp inside the cavern while exploring the abyss.
Visitors enter the cave via a 262-foot vertical drop, repelling down the mouth of the cave. It’s like entering a secret, mystical world with 600-foot cliffs and giant stalactites. There’s even an underground jungle, dubbed the “Garden of Eden” filled with the sounds of monkeys, hornbills, and flying foxes.
Camping in the Cave
This thrilling 7-day mini-expedition includes two nights at a local hotel in the village of Phong Nha, two nights camping in the lush grounds of Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park, and an incredible three nights of camping within Hang Son Doong itself.
You’ll be accompanied by a team of 16 – from porters, to safety experts, to guides, who will ensure your utmost safety and fun. All gear is provided and the camps are set up and taken down by the porters, leaving you time to enjoy your surroundings.
Once-In-A-Lifetime Trip for a Bargain
As far as ‘Once-In-A-Lifetime’ experiences go, this one is ridiculously inexpensive. So cheap, in fact, that virtually anyone can afford it..
Of course, there is a downfall. An experience like this has to have a catch. Due to the strictly limited number of visitors, there is a minimum wait time of 6-9 months before we can get you in, if you can even find space at all.
If you can wait that long, you too can have a trip fit for a prince.
For more magnificent photos of Hang Son Doong, you can visit John Spies’ Son Doong photo collection. John took part on one of the first public trips and captured some amazing scenes.
What about you?
Would a few days in a cave be a walk-in-the-park or would it feel like the walls are closing in on you? Let me know in the comments below!