Exploring the Tu Lan cave system

by Oxalis/ Mekong Capital/VNE27 December 2015 Last updated at 15:32 PM

VTV.vn - The Tu Lan cave system is located 70 km from Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park, a world natural heritage site in Quang Binh Province, central Vietnam.

Tu Lan cave system includes more than 10 caves, some of which were originally discovered and explored in 1992, and some of which were just found in the past couple of years.

Because the tectonic plates in this region are always moving and bumping into each other, the mountains are still rising and moving up. The rivers continue to cut into the bottom of the mountain, carving new caves over time. Hence, the river caves that are at a lower elevation are much younger than the higher, dry caves as they were more recently created.

The river caves in this system such as Ken Cave and Tu Lan Cave are about 3 million years old. The higher, dry caves (dry Tu Lan and Ton Cave) are around 5 million years old.

The stalactites and stalagmites are enormous and breathtaking. Ken Cave, one of the caves and its beautiful formations, was featured recently in National Geographic by world renowned photographer Carsten Peter.

In order to explore the Tu Lan cave system, explorers will have to trek through remote, untouched jungle; cross through buffalo fields; be surrounded by giant, looming, limestone mountains on all sides; and plunge into deep, cool, underground rivers that wind gracefully through mountains and river valleys alike.

The rewards for this exploration include watching flurries of butterflies surround camp; sleeping under the stars in a hammock, with the breeze floating lazily around you; sitting by a campfire telling stories, singing songs, and drinking rice wine; listening to the beautiful waterfalls gush around you; learning the words to popular Vietnamese songs, singing national anthems, and playing games; eating barbecue pork, fresh fruit, springs rolls, and more; and venturing through areas that are almost completely unexplored, boasting some of the greatest biodiversity in the country.

Aside from the beauty, it’s the adventure of swimming through the river caves that makes this tour unmatchable to anything else around. As you swim through each cave, you’re surrounded by gorgeous limestone formations, seen only by the light of your head torch, and the fading daylight of the cave entrance behind you.

It’s quiet and serene, and definitely an experience to have at some point in this lifetime. As you finish each swim and exit the caves, the view that you’re presented with will blow you away: beautiful blue lakes, green trees, and a small waterfall… tourists have described it before as paradise on Earth.

The campsites are spectacular to take in, with limestone mountains breaking out of the ground on each side, and gushing waterfalls sending bubbles frothing across the surface of the water that completes the feeling of this utopian scene. Hammocks swing gently between trees, leaving you rocked to sleep in the light breeze, under the canopy of trees and a blanket of stars in a moonlit sky.

Oxalis is the sole tour operator and investor in the Tu Lan cave system.


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