during May 2022 I had the chance to explore the 4th largest cave in the world whose the name are Hangover Pygmy.
These caves are in Vietnam and are located in Phong Nha national park which belongs to Dong Hoi province, it is situated in the centre-north of Vietnam.
In order to reach them you need to go for a long strenuous trekking through a muddy and wet jungle, the trail itself is generally recommended for people who have good health conditions because not only are you supposed to watch your steps but also deal with lot’s of uphill with huge stamina, if you don’t have good physical condition then you’d better off!
That being said, if you feel in a shape, then you need to prepare yourself with some equipment and precautions:
- Bring long sleeves t-shirts
- Bring two pairs of long hiking trousers (you will need for a change the second day of trekking)
- Bring two pairs of long warm socks (same as above)
- Have a waterproof softshell jacket (better if GORE-TEX) because you may expect rainstorm at anytime
- Trekking shoes
- 1x vial of hydrogen peroxide (in case you accidentally touch a spiky trunk tree)
- 1x vial of iodine tincture
On top of that, there is some additional equipment to be taken in consideration but no worries: the tour guide will provide you with, because you are not allowed to trek to those caves by yourself 🙂
As for the tour guides, there is a choice of two companies: Jungle Boss and Oxalis, each of them proposes different tours since they have the exclusive license for exploring certain caves. Having picked up Pygmy cave I had to go with Jungle Boss. The interesting fact is that both tours have an ECO resort to accommodate the visitors, here below there are few pictures about Jungle Boss homestay:
They provide you with all the needful including the leeches repellent and two bottles of water each day of your stay 🙂
Coming to the tour itself, we were five attendees: four Vietnamese girls and I, of course I am not including the tour guide. We all were keen to start the adventure! The tour guide was very knowledgeable and recommended us to tuck your hiking trousers into your long socks to prevent the leeches from attacking your legs (but even so one attacked me). Be prepared to get dirty more and more, the jungle is wet and therefore muddy, staying clean is a kind of ‘mission impossible’, another thing the tour guide also provide you with waterproof gloves to avoid contact with dangerous bacteria!
After three hours of trekking with all the difficulties, we stop for having a lunch break, I personally slightly fell down twice, so always watch carefully your steps!
Here is a short video recording about trekking in the jungle: https://youtu.be/wkS1kgmSlSY
After the break we resumed our trekking to get to the entrance of Hangover cave, the scenery was simply amazing and breathtaking, see the pictures below:
The reason why it is named ‘Hangover’ is that this cave was discovered on the 20th century by a local guy who got drunk after discovering it!
We got through the first cave by walking, the shape is very wide, we could observe lot’s of stalactites and stalagmites, after crossing the first cave we got a way out to a short jungle path to enter Pygmy cave which was the main challenge! Here we were provided with helmet and fail-safe equipment because we were supposed to hike through a narrow and slippery trail through the stalagmites, on each passage we were required to attach one-by-one double carabiners to the next via ferrata, it took us forty minutes to get across till arrive to the abseiling point! Yes, we also had the greatest experience of abseiling 10 metres of gap!
Although I thought it is going to be a ‘mission-critical’, I managed to abseil with a good technic and smoothly till the bottom point. Once we passed the abseiling point, the only left experience of sch a riveting day was to swim at lake pool to chill-out ourselves and get ready for the dinner at the campsite by the exit of the cave. Here below there are few pictures about our camp site party 🙂
Finally, the second day we exit the cave and we came back to the outdoor life 😀 by trekking down to the to the valley through a steep and muddy jungle, it took us about five hours to get back to the starting point by a different trail.
In conclusion, it was a deep experience in the wild life, even if it costs some money (300$ approximately), it worth every single $ to give it a try! Just be mentally prepared to be out of the urban civilization and get very dirty and being bitten by one leech at least and all the rest will go swimmingly!
That being said, I will be more than happy to answer about any of your concerns.
Do not hesitate to contact me or leave a comment!