As soon as we arrived in Son Trach we were told that a dry cave had been discovered approximately 100 metres above the entrance of the area’s main tourist attraction ‘Phong Nha’ show cave.

The officials from Quang Binh and Son Trach were interested in the potential for extending their show cave business by incorporating the dry cave into the tourist experience.To this end, before our arrival, a track had been cut up the very steep hillside above Phong Nha river cave.

The possibility of high level development could not be ruled out, so half expecting a short cave cum alcove a team consisting of Mick, Martin, Huey and Snablet was sent for a look.They surveyed approximately 400 metres of old large dry passage to a 10 metre pitch, all of which had been entered before by locals.

On the follow up trip Simon, Howard, Anette, Phai and Pete dropped the pitch and surveyed along a 20 metre wide flat sandy floored passage. This section of passage was virgin and before us stood two superb stalagmites shaped like cobras in a dance.The dimensions increased to 30 metres by 20 metres the sandy floor being the only obstacle.Very old stal and flowstone decorated this excellent passage, until after nearly a kilometre we entered a large chamber some 40 metres wide and 20 metres high.We searched for some time but no way on could be found; all leads were either choked with calcite or breakdown, so we called it a day and headed out.

As we neared the entrance it become clear that it was raining heavily outside as small stream now flowed in the previously dry passage.The cut path down to the river cave became treacherous in the wet as we surveyed down to link the two entrances.

The dry cave is a quality section of cave passage and hopefully the Vietnamese as they develop the cave will be ever thoughtful of just how fragile this environment is.

Quite how they plan to get the tourists up to the entrance without numerous heart attack victims remains to be seen.But no doubt the ever-resourceful Vietnamese will think of a way.

Peter O’Neil


2012 Report


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