From an early age, a local man by the name of Ho Khanh spent weeks on end trekking his way through the jungles found in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park in search of food and timber to earn his income.
One day while out on a hunting mission, Ho Khanh stumbled across an opening in a limestone cliff. As he approached closer he noticed clouds billowing out of the entrance, and he heard what sounded like a raging river coming from somewhere inside the cave. When he got close enough to feel a strong wind also blowing out from the cave, he decided to move on without further inspection. After his journey home a few days later, he had forgotten its exact location, and thought no more of the mysterious entrance.
Coincidentally, Howard and Deb Limbert, a couple and two members of the British Cave Research Association (BCRA), were conducting exploratory cave expeditions in Phong Nha. While chatting with locals, the couple came across Ho Khanh who mentioned his strange experience concerning the opening to what he saw as a cave.
Both Howard and Deb were intrigued. The couple strongly urged Ho Khanh to attempt and rediscover the cave. After many failed attempts and let downs or even close calls, the travel weary trivium began to believe the elusive cavern may remain lost in the jungle forever.
Fast forward to 2008. Miraculously, while out collecting in the jungle, Ho Khanh found the mysterious opening once again. This time he studiously took note of the path of how to get there. Finally, In 2009, Ho Khanh led Howard, Deb, plus a team of professionals to the cave for the first official expedition to enter what would later become known as Hang Son Doong, or ‘Mountain River Cave’.”
Nothing could have prepared the team for what they found after descending 262 feet below the entrance. Hang Son Doong is over 5km long, with sections reaching up to 200m tall and 150m wide. The cave is large enough to have its own river, jungle, climate, and ecosystem including bats, birds, monkeys, and much more. Its gorgeous bright green rivers are met with white sand beaches.
Formed on the edge of a fault zone, Hang Son Doong has been carved out by the mighty Rao Thuong River forming the enormous tunnel beneath the Annamite Mountains. The cave boasts Stalagmites up to 80m high, the tallest ever encountered. Some of this world’s rarest rocks are found inside Son Doong. The cave is part of a network of 150 or so caves in the Annamite Mountains, many of which are yet to be surveyed.
With a measured volume of 38.5 million cubic meters, the Son Doong cave surpasses Deer Cave in Malaysia, which, until this discovery, was the world’s largest cave. If you are inspired by this story and are feeling adventurous, make sure to visit the Hang Son Doong cave.
Photos of the cave are below:
The cave entrance.
242 foot drop into the cave.