I will never make it to outer space so I did the next best thing. Son Doong is another world and will stay with me forever. It was an honour to meet Mr. Ho Khanh who discovered the cave so many years ago. To explore it with members of the original British caving expedition was like being on the moon with the original astronauts. I truly feel privileged to have had this opportunity. Their passion for the cave is highly infectious. Their respect and care for it is reassuring.
Was it expensive? Yes, but worth every penny and then some when you consider the logistics involved and the excellent level of service, equipment, staff, safety and the care taken for the cave and its environment. Son Doong is in good hands with the Oxalis company. It is evident they respect and care for this treasure. I feel every cent was well deserved in part because of this but mostly because I could see how the money was spent.
You must be very fit and have great stamina. This is not an easy trip. It. Is. A . Challenge! For 5 days you will be trekking through the jungle in extreme heat and humidity, climbing over slippery, sharp rocks in near dark and climbing down again, crossing too many rivers to count both above and below ground and dealing with elements foreign to most of us. The over 50 kilometres are not easy ones. You will be camping and cannot expect to be clean, dry or particularly comfortable in this world. Be honest about your abilities and realistic about physical comfort in these conditions. Good hydration is not just extremely important; it is vital! Drink and then drink some more. Do not worry about having to urinate, you will sweat it out. I averaged 3 litres a day on the trail and drank a lot in camp.
Take every piece of advice Oxalis gives you seriously. They know what they are talking about. You are in good hands.
There are no adequate words to prepare you for the beauty of the caves. Pictures cannot do it true justice either in my opinion. You have to be there to understand that. You will have moments that are surreal and they will blow your mind! Remember that very few people have had this opportunity. To put it into perspective; more people have been to space and climbed Everest than have been here. This is truly something unique.
A waterproof camera or even a go pro are a must. You will have a hard time deciding which shots to take and will relish poring over them again and again. My only problem is..... What could possibly top this?
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