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Introduction
 
Following the last expedition of 2001, we planned to return to Quang Binh and spend the whole of the trip in this area. Our two main objectives were to visit Quang Ninh district, south of Bo Trach district where the Phong Nha and Hang Vom systems are located, and to attempt to get into the large area of unexplored karst to the east of the Chay river and Hang Vom system.
We had also been told of a cave Hang Giang Hai which we hoped would find a way into the undiscovered section of cave between Hang En and Hang Tong, and we hoped to be able to find a way into the missing section of the Hang Vom system between Ruc Caroong and Hang Vom. Therefore we had plenty of objectives for a four week expedition.
With the usual co-operation with the Geography Faculty at Hanoi University of Science, we soon had permission to visit all the necessary districts. We have to thank as usual Prof Nguyen Quang My and Mr. Phan Duy Nga for their invaluable help.
 
Quang Ninh district proved to have significant cave development. The longest cave Hang Cha Rao was explored for 2k but not completed. A fine river cave, with more than 1 kilometre of swimming.
Hang Giang Hai proved to be elusive, but several new caves were explored around Ruc Caroong with more entrances waiting to be investigated next time.
We were lucky to be able to find local guides who know the area east of the Chay river very well. They took us for several long walks in the jungle, and showed us many caves. Most of the entrances in this area are dry but clearly very active in the wet season. They are also at a higher altitude of about 450m and are quite vertical, unlike the Phong Nha and Hang Vom systems. The deepest, with an entrance shaft of 80m was explored to a depth of 170m. Most caves required some vertical caving equipment. With so many entrances all taking a large amount of water in the wet season, there is the potential for a large master system in this area. Possibly feeding the large resurgence on the east bank of the Chay river. As usual we took only limited ropes and SRT gear to Quang Binh, but a return to this area would require a team fully equipped for vertical caving.
 
Much information was gained from the excellent jungle guides and the next expedition would be light weight reconnaissance trips deep into the jungle to assess the caving potential. The area around Ruc Caroong near the Lao border could prove very interesting as well as other caves we have been told about between Hang Tong and the Khe Ry system. There is still much to be done in this fabulous Ke Bang limestone massif. The quality caves are still waiting to be found, and further expeditions will yield much more information about this wonderful area with its amazing people.
 
We would all like to thank all the people who we met during our expedition for all there kindness and help shown towards the expedition.
 
 

Howard Limbert

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