If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of big cities like Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh city, Phong Nha probably is the place to be. You have heard about Vietnam with the beautiful nature and many long historical stories, you must be surprise with Phong Nha – known as World Heritage site because it has more than that.
In the end of last month (Feb 2019), I had a chance to join in a trekking tour of 4 days 3 nights, which leads me to explore deeply into the jungle. My team has 4 people and 4 porters, especially I am the only girl of this group. I have to say that, porters play an important role in our trip, because their mission is carrying all necessary stuffs for this trip, for example food, drink, helmet, life jacket (for swimming), etc. Can you imagine that they have to bring around 40 -50 kg backpack the whole trip with the long distance of hiking and climbing.
Start the journey from Ho Chi Minh trail – if you have chance to hear about Vietnam – American War before, you may know that this trail is so famous and has a long historical story behind it. Definitely, while hiking through the dense leaves, you will be provided all information about Phong Nha area and also traditional stories of Vietnam.
Deep in the heart of central Vietnam lies an ancient landscape made up of dense jungle, snaking rivers, and limestone karsts. Beneath all of it lies one of Vietnam’s most precious gems: its prehistoric cave systems. Phong Nha is blessed with them, some of which are so big they could fit skyscrapers inside them. The cave networks of Phong Nha are one of Vietnam’s best kept secrets.
And it is so much fun to do hiking in a mountainous area and is exciting than in the plains. Honestly, I am kind of person who love hiking, because hiking is exploration and it takes one near the allure of nature. The views of trees, bushes, streams, wild flowers, and different formations of caves is so pleasing.
My first stop is Hang Over, the first cave in Tiger Cave series adventure. We have to trek from the main road almost 7km to access this cave. Inside the cave, we saw the benefits of so much luxury being brought along the journey. The porters had set up a kitchen. Behind them, our tents were already set up, their bright green sides contrasting against the warm tones of dirt and clay. They were surrounded by elaborate rock formations reaching down from the ceiling and seeming to appear at random from the ground. A Vietnamese dinner style with a little bit white wine was perfect to close the first day in the jungle.
After having breakfast we started the second day with a walking to Tiger Cave. Eventually we scrambled up a hill, scrambled through a crevice, and, after another half a kilometer of scrambling on giant rocks, we found ourselves at the gaping entrance to Tiger Cave. Unlike some other caves in the area, Tiger Cave is still very rugged and unexplored, requiring challenging scrambles and low climbs to reach its dark inner births. To explore Tiger Cave, I have to use a life jacket, helmet and headlamp and start swim into the cave. The swim is a route around the cave exterior. After that, you will reach a shingle bank and by staying on the right hand side of the passage an easier way on can be found. The passage then splits in 2 and the left hand branch climbs up a boulder slope to a choke. However the right hand passage continues climbing over a number of house sized blocks and both passages meet up again in a spectacular dry passage around 50m wide and 30m high aptly named ‘Monster Passage’.
The best part of this trip is finding a new doline, which is located in other side of Tiger Cave. While recording some drone footages about the caves, our team realized exactly the location of giant collapse, and we decided to climb up and down a mountain slope on the other side of Tiger cave to get there, and do you know, that was crazy when I climbed up around 150m of erect mountain by my hands and foot. Finally, we reached the huge doline, and it was so excited and surprise because of the magical nature. The collapse with a skull shape and is covered by a lush vegetation. Absolutely, this place is perfect for camping spot if you guys have chance to conquer this awesome cave.
Last stop – also my favorite place in this journey – Hang Pygmy. Frankly speaking, Pygmy cave is “super large”, and when I accessed the first entrance of cave, I was totally shock and too surprise to say any words about this giant cave. Exploring this cave is really challenging when we have to use caving equipment or safety stuffs to abseiling or climbing inside Pygmy cave. However, when you get there, the other entrance of Pygmy, you’ll have the giant open cave system – replete with its own tropical jungle – all to yourself. And I may confess that camping inside that cave is so amazing, I can feel the fresh nature, hear the voice of birds and enjoy the sunset and sunrise with a view of huge mouth cave.
I had a great night in Pygmy cave, and woke up by the voice of birds in the next morning. Absolutely, this has been my unique experience so far. I will not never forget all details of this trip, it brings me to get closer to the unspoiled nature and get more knowledge about the wild life. You guys should check it one day in the future, I swear. <3
Thank you so much for reading. <3
Thank you so much #JungleBossteam to give me this unique chane!
Photos were taken by: @Justin D.Boulter - @Leo Nguyen and Mr. Dzung Le