Phong Nha Ke Day 3: Tu Lan Cave

It’s time for our final day in Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park, day 3 exploring Tu Lan Cave. As I mentioned this cave was my favorite day of exploring.

Tu Lan cave was discovered just a few of years ago by tourists visiting the National Park, awesome right? Can you imagine stumbling upon this?

Tu Lan Cave Vietnam

“Hey look up there, is that a cave?”

We started our trek early in the morning. It is about an hour hike to get to Tu Lan Cave. When you first start the hike, you notice water buffalo basking themselves in mud to stay cool. This is a pretty good indicator that we are going to be hot on this hike.
Tu Lan Cave Vietnam

We were also advised to wear long pants and long sleeves, even though we would be swimming for about 2 hours through the cave. My guess is that this is to protect you from the leeches in the cave’s lakes (I tried to push this from my mind when I was swimming.) Anyways, my point being, this was going to be a really hot hike.

And hot it was, but the beauty of the hike made it more than worth it.Tu Lan Cave VietnamTu Lan Cave VietnamCrossing this river was not only beautiful, it cooled us off as well. Win, win.

Then at last, we see the mouth of Tu Lan.

Tu Lan Cave Vietnam

Do you see the mouth of the cave? (bottom left corner)

Tu Lan Cave VietnamWe had reached the entrance and now it was time to descend down into the 1st cave. Tu Lan has multiple caves throughout its system. We did the one day exploration and explored 2 caves (Porcupine Cave and Kim Cave.)

In order to enter the 1st cave, you have to tie in and descend down a long ladder. When you get to the bottom, you look up and see the only remaining light high above you at the entrance.

Once everyone was down, we turned on our headlamps and ventured deeper into the dark cave, checking out the awesome formations. We were lucky to see some rare cave formations, like cave pearls (made when water drips into a cave pool and the calcite forms around a grain of sand or dirt) and soda straws (basically hollow stalactites, that look like straws.) Unfortunately I didn’t get a picture of the soda straws, but here are the awesome cave pearls.
Tu Lan Cave Vietnam

Along with these unique formations we saw the more common, stalactites, stalagmites and columns. There was one section in the cave that had a bunch of columns (where stalactites and stalagmites meet together.) It felt like you were in a maze of columns, it was so neat and so much fun to explore.

Next up we had a bit of swimming to do to reach the exit of the 1st cave. We swam through the water and came to a small waterfall that emerged out of the cave and into a gorgeous area where we’d be having lunch.
Tu Lan Cave Vietnam
Tu Lan Cave Vietnam

After lunch, we headed for the 2nd cave. This is the cave where we did the majority of our swimming. Swimming through a cave with only your headlamp to guide you is an experience I will never forget.

At one point we all turned off our headlamps and we were in swimming in complete darkness. It was similar to the feeling I had at Dark Cave except this time we were submerged in water. Your eyes never seemed to adjust to the blackness. You relied on your other senses to guide you. All you could hear were the bats screeching in the cave and a waterfall in the distance. As the waterfall sound drew closer, I opted to turn my light back on. You know, simply because I didn’t want to plummet down a waterfall deep in a caving system…minor thing.

After swimming through Kim’s Cave, we reached the end and it was time to turn back. We took a break here for a minute and took in everything the day had offered us.
Tu Lan Cave Vietnam

We made the long trek back through both caves and finally surfaced from the inside of the cave. After a full day of descending, swimming, trekking and exploring this amazing caving system, this is what we came out to…

Tu Lan Cave Vietnam
Tu Lan Cave Vietnam
Tu Lan Cave Vietnam

It was one of the neatest experiences in my life and I will never forget it.

Like this post? Check out Day 1 and Day 2 exploring Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park.

Images by: Jessica Chindgren, Ben Perkins, Kipp Martin

8 Responses to Phong Nha Ke Day 3: Tu Lan Cave

  1. Antonina says:

    Fantastic photos, Jessica! The last one is my absolute favorite, and the buffalo one is second best 🙂
    Antonina recently posted…Street life in India: when my universe stopped making sense 🙂My Profile

  2. This seems great! I am a little claustrophobic so I’ll take your word for its awesomeness 🙂 The water buffalos in the mud is very cool.
    AndreaOnVacation recently posted…How to Stretch your Travel BudgetMy Profile

  3. ~ Carmen ~ says:

    These photos are incredible. I love the last photo & the one of you guys on the log in the water. It looks so serene. On another note: leeches?!?!!?! Blehhhh.

    :] // ▲ ▲

  4. Anita says:

    I have to say that you take some breathtaking photos!! I tried to imagined what it feels like swimming in complete darkness and I felt some kind of uneasiness..! Thanks for that post!
    Anita recently posted…Damien. Paris, France │Traveling Curse.My Profile

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