Author Topic: 2 days caving adventure with Oxalis Adventures - Hang Nuoc Nut & Hang Va  (Read 590 times)

Offline JoshW

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I woke up in my hostel in Phong Nha, Vietnam, full of excitement that my caving adventures were about to begin and hopefully rescue my Vietnam travels (that had been rather underwhelming at this point, at least in comparison to Thailand and Cambodia).

Pickup from my hostel was at around 8am and I quickly realised my fellow cavers for the weekend spoke very little English between them. The guide asked if anyone had caved before, they didn't understand, but I explained that I caved fairly regularly in UK.

Upon arrival at Oxalis' headquarters, a safety briefing was given by my tour guide, before we packed some bags together ready to go. Whilst packing Howard Limbert came over and we discussed caving in general, and discussed a bit of history about the caves in Vietnam as well as our own caving histories.

Fast forward an hour and we were dropped off at the roadside and handed a lid to put in our backpacks. I discussed what it was like to be a cave guide with our guide and I think he appreciated that at least one of the people on the tour could hold a conversation with him.

We arrived at a large entry to Hang Nuoc Nut, and settled down for a very early lunch that our porters/chef had prepared. We headed into the cave and several photo opportunities occurred, and I assisted in various bits of lighting (once a flashmonkey, always a flashmonkey). We soon were swimming in chest deep water across various streams, which was great fun. The wide open spaces a total change from the mendip squalor I was used to.

There was some very very impressive formations in this cave, but we were assured better was yet to come. We eventually reached the sump at the end of the cave, and turned and headed back to the entrance. A quick refill of bananas, biscuits and water and we set upon trekking to our camp the other side of the mountain.

The spaniards were clearly not as confident climbing and descending as I was, even in my gripless racing slick shoes, but we reached our camp, and started setting up harnesses with cows tails ready for the traverse line down into Hang Va. We also got knitted up in a life jacket, as apparently there was a fairly significant swim we'd be doing in deep water.

I shot down the traverse line, that in a non-commercial setting would probably just be left as a climb, and turned round to see the others struggling, but getting there.

Once at the bottom is didn't take us long to be in knee deep, then waist deep, then chest deep water, before finally being out of depth and just swimming. It was a strange feeling caving in rolled up hiking trousers, a thermal top and trainers, but a nice one. We continued until we reached the downstream end of the cave, taking photos en route before heading back to the camp to dry out the best we could.

After a lovely dinner I went for a quick nap at 5pm before waking up at about 7am, feeling very much refreshed, clearly the excitement the night before had prevented me from getting any meaningful sleep.

Today we'd be checking out upstream of Hang Va where there was to be further traverse lines, more challenging this time, as well as checking out the sump at the far north of the cave.

Going to the sump first involved some interesting climbing sections that almost reminded me of the entrance boulder choke to Eastwater, I felt much more at home in these tighter conditions!

Some photos were set up in some of the waterfalls with some underwater lights that the porter was carrying and I assisted where I could.

The traverse lines were indeed slightly more testing, but still feel that in a non commercial setting no line would be set up.

At the far north on the upper level of the cave was what can only be described as a forest of stalacmites. It was absolutely awe inspiring just to walk in between them and think about how long these had taken to form.

Whilst the caving hadn't been remotely challenging and this left me slightly disappointed, the formations at this part of the cave more than made up for it.

We headed back out and after an hour walk crossing streams trying not to get wet as most my clothes were all dry for the first time in the weekend, we got to the meeting point of the minibus that had kindly bought beer and water. We headed back to the centre for showers and to try and get the final bits of moisture out of our socks and shoes - wearing sandals as the guides did was looking more and more appealing.

Whilst the caves were more expensive than the rest of the tours in Phong Nha, having access to caves that nobody else did and the sight of the formations made it totally worth it, and I can't wait to return.

Offline Roger W

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 :thumbsup:  Sounds good!
"That, of course, is the dangerous part about caves:  you don't know how far they go back, sometimes... or what is waiting for you inside."   JRR Tolkein: "The Hobbit"

Offline PaulW

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Nice bit of lunchtime reading.

Look forward to having you back in the squalor of mendip :lol: