14:38 | 06/05/2019 Society
(VEN) - Stone formations with stalagmites and stalactites, underground rivers and lakes, together with delicate flora and fauna have made mammoth Son Doong Cave in the central province of Quang Binh one of the world’s most captivating destinations. Recognized as the largest of its kind in the world by three international record-keeping organizations - Guinness, the Association World, and WorldKings, Son Doong excites visitors who love adventure travel, especially now that cave experts have just announced new findings.
For cave experts, Son Doong is still a mystery or big question to which experienced professionals really want to find an answer. According to British Royal Family’s cave experts, it is likely that Son Doong and Thung caves (discovered in 1994) are connected by a stretch of a 600 meter-long underground river. If this hypothesis is proved, Son Doong will become the world’s largest cave in terms of both size and volume.
Oxalis Adventure Tours and the British Cave Research Association’s (BCRA) cave explorers led by Howard Limberd, in coordination with the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park Management Board, invited world leading divers to survey the underground river to open new doors for scientific research, and help Quang Binh explore many underground caves in the river.
Divers said they had expected the river to be 50-60m deep but they didn’t see its bed even when they reached a depth of 77m. For safety reasons, they could not dive deeper, they said. Divers found a cave system at a depth of 60m inside Son Doong, and the deeper the cave system, the wider it is.
Cave expert Jasson Mallinson said it is impossible to predict how deep this river is, but there is certainly a mysterious world to be discovered there.
Promoting adventure tourism
In 2013, Quang Binh Province officially licensed Oxalis Adventure Tours to offer tours to Son Doong. Tours are also available to other caves in the province, including Phong Nha, Tien Son and Tu Lan, and trekking tours in the forest. Quang Binh is considering licensing cycling, mountain climbing and diving tours in the underground river system.
Tran Tien Dung, Vice Chairman of the Quang Binh Province People’s Committee said Quang Binh has necessary conditions to develop adventure tourism and the province is offering incentive policies for adventure tours while preparing plans to build Quang Binh into one of the biggest adventure tourism centers in Asia.
“The number of visitors, especially foreign tourists, to Quang Binh is constantly growing, offering opportunities for the province to develop adventure tourism. We have policies on facilitating the development of adventure tours and commit to creating favorable conditions for investors to develop these tours,” Dung said.
At a recent Hanoi press conference to announce the new findings of Son Doong, Nguyen Chau A from Oxalis Adventure Tours said cave systems and natural landscapes inside the forests and villages, which offer opportunities for adventure tourism development, are unique to Quang Binh. Tours to Son Doong are among the most sought after in the world, and discovering Son Doong is the dream of many people including those who have conquered Mount Everest, A said.
Located in the heart of Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, Son Doong Cave, which is175m in width, 200m in height
and approximately 9 kilometers in length, was explored by the British Cave Research Association during 2009-2010
and it has been open to the public since 2013. Its formation is believed to date back two to five million years.