Hang Son Doong – Dark heart of the jungle of Vietnam

Hang Son Doong - Dark heart of the jungle of Vietnam

Hang Son Doong – Dark heart of the jungle of Vietnam.
 
For days, members of the British expedition have been making their way through the dense jungle of central Vietnam with their equipment. Finally, they reach the entrance to Hang Son Doong – the largest cave in the world in terms of volume. The nine-kilometre-long underground labyrinth with a height of up to 250 meters is crossed by rivers, overgrown with clumps of primeval plants that today can only be found here.

Jason Mallison, Rick Stanton and Chris Jewell know perfectly well that they were not the first to visit this place. But they want to go deeper into the cave than anyone before. First on foot, then swimming, and finally just diving. After reaching their submersible limit at a depth of 78 meters, they drop a lead sinker into murky water with a maximum visibility of two meters. And they achieve a surprising result: the side branch of the cave extends at least a kilometer further and 40 meters down!

This proves for the first time that there must be a connection to the neighboring cavern – and that the Hang Son Doong Cave is 1.6 million cubic meters larger than previously thought. “It’s like someone at the top of Mount Everest discovers a lump of earth that raises it another 1,000 meters,” explains speleologist Howard Limbert. At the same time, the find clearly signals that more than one expedition into the unknown awaits daredevils here…

“Do not walk around the cave without light, as there may be holes or chasms up to 100 meters deep everywhere.” – Howard Limbert, speleologist. The highest cave in this cave system is 250 meters high. However, the road to this rock cathedral, which would fit the entire street quarter together with skyscrapers, is very demanding and only experienced adventurers will manage it.

Water is an omnipresent element in the Vietnamese jungle, but also in the cave: the air humidity is almost 100 percent. Clothes wet with sweat have no chance to dry for the entire duration of the trip. The Annama Mountains, where the cave system is located, are almost half a billion years old. For at least three million years, the Rao Thuong underground stream has been carving its way through the limestone rocks. In the rainy season it turns into a mighty river.

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