Okay everyone, this should be #1 on everyone's bucket list. Whatever your thoughts, expectations, or concept of how incredible this experience may be, it will be exceeded ten-fold. This is truly one in a once in a lifetime experience that very few will have the chance to experience. The Cave is truly spectacular. The pictures you can research on the WEB are incredible but pale in comparison to being there. We had Deb and Ken as our guides. Not only did they make the challenging journey a joy, but were beyond knowledgeable of everything Son Doong. The entire safety staff was there to assist whenever needed. The entire support crew, from porters to cooks provided for any and every need you could possibly think of. The food, or should I say "cuisine" was delicious and plentiful.
Hints: follow all preparation and equipment recommendations. Do not fool around or get "cheap" or overly frugal. Footwear is by far the most important item on the list - take it seriously. If you have any questions or concerns email Mo (her assistance is invaluable - love her). Travel light and lightweight - get quality "stuff". For me practicing Bouldering is much more valuable than technical climbing. Cardio - the Stairmaster will not only get in condition but build strength as well - use it often. Best recommendation I have is getting some brand of electrolyte tablets - we used Hammar brand. The powders are not practical in the cave. The tablets were fantastic and easy.
The Journey: the Cave is Humongous. I mean really Humongous. No claustrophobia here. The cave is expansive and full of wonders. The views from everywhere are breathtaking. Be prepared for the incredible photo opportunities. The guides know all of them and will help you take great photos. Make friends with those with the better cameras - and find a way to bring a good one yourself - well worth it. Ask questions and learn the history of the cave. Learn about Dolines, Cave Pearls, Flying Foxes, Swift Birds, Stalagtites and Stalagmites. Be prepared to be fascinated at every turn.
Challenges: Okay I will be honest I had "Great Wall" anxiety from the moment I signed up and paid. There was a part of me that was hoping the cave would be closed or flooded when I arrived because in general I don't like heights and was "concerned". Let me put your fears aside. You can and will be able to climb the Great Wall of Vietnam. The three days leading up to it will 100% prepare you to accomplish it. The guides are experts and supportive. It happens so quick you'll forget about your worries before you have time to worry.
Recommendation - take a lot of photos of the hike itself - not just the scenery of the cave. We didn't and regret it. Especially the hike out of the cave to the final pick up point; the trail was remarkable and indescribable - afterwards you'll never be able to explain just what you accomplished without the photos of the journey itself.
This is truly a once in a lifetime journey - we've done a lot of famous hike - Machu Picchu, etc. - this is by far the most unusual exciting adventure we've ever done. I could not recommend anything more to the adventure traveler. Although the cost may seem "pricey" - the truth is that it is remarkably inexpensive for what you get and the lasting memories it will leave.
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