Tag Archives: hang en

Return to Hang Son Doong

This January I was once again presented with the amazing opportunity to do some more photography work in Son Doong cave thanks to Oxalis. (Photos from my previous trip to Son Doong.) Oxalis needed to prepare some things for the upcoming tours and I was able to tag along with Howard, Deb, Watto, Adam, Bamboo, Thanh, and the brilliant porters from Phong Nha on their trip into Hang Son Doong. I have to say that these photos wouldn’t have been possible without the tremendous help from everyone.

Bamboo standing in a passage in Hang Son Doong looking out towards the second doline.
Bamboo standing in a passage in Hang Son Doong looking out towards the second doline.

Unfortunately we were in some tight time constraints as we only had one full day in the cave and it was a long 10 hour day taking photographs. This trip I was better prepared with flash bulbs from Meggaflash¬†and homemade bulb firers that could be triggered wirelessly. This made photographing the cave/daylight points much easier and I’m incredibly happy with how they turned out.

Bamboo in the first doline and Watto and Thanh lighting up the cave passage. The second doline can be seen in the distance.
Bamboo in the first doline and Watto and Thanh lighting up the cave passage. The second doline can be seen in the distance.
The red glow from sunset is seen at the exit of Hang En.
The red glow from sunset is seen at the exit of Hang En.
Garden of Edam in Son Doong Cave
Garden of Edam in Son Doong Cave

It’s incredibly difficult to put into words how amazing Hang Son Doong really is. From the shear size of the cave to the two doline where plant life has started growing inside the cave. It is truly otherworldly and something that probably can’t be experienced anywhere else in the world.

Bamboo looking towards the second camp. Watto is in the passage with a flashbulb lighting it up.
Bamboo looking towards the second camp. Watto is in the passage with a flashbulb lighting it up.
Bamboo entering the first doline. The light coming from the distance is from Watto and Howard, who are only a few pixels big in the photo.
Bamboo entering the first doline. The light coming from the distance is from Watto and Howard, who are only a few pixels big in the photo.
One of my favorite parts of Son Doong Cave, the view back into the first doline.
One of my favorite parts of Son Doong Cave, the view back into the first doline.
Bamboo and Thanh standing in a passage in Hang Son Doong looking out towards the second doline.
Bamboo and Thanh standing in a passage in Hang Son Doong looking out towards the second doline.
Thanh standing by a massive stalagmite in Son Doong cave.
Thanh standing by a massive stalagmite in Son Doong cave.
A small sunbeam coming through the entrance of Hang Son Doong.
A small sunbeam coming through the entrance of Hang Son Doong.
Bamboo about to descend into Hang Son Doong.
Bamboo about to descend into Hang Son Doong.
Watto on the Hand of Dog.
Watto on the Hand of Dog.
Bamboo looking back toward Watch Out For Dinosaurs.
Bamboo looking back toward Watch Out For Dinosaurs.

We also were incredibly lucky to witness sunbeams in Hang En the last morning we were there. At first we didn’t think it was going to happen as with was cloudy and foggy outside. Everyone decided to call it and head back towards civilization, but I wanted to stay and Thanh was kind enough to stay back with me. When the clouds broke and sunbeam started forming my breath was taken away. It was an absolutely incredible sight.

Thanh standing in a sunbeam in Hang En.
Thanh standing in a sunbeam in Hang En.

 

Thanh standing in a sunbeam in Hang En.
Thanh standing in a sunbeam in Hang En.

 

Thanh standing in a sunbeam in Hang En.
Thanh standing in a sunbeam in Hang En.

I will leave you with the rest of the photos from the trip. I hope you enjoy!

View to the first camp leading to the first doline in Son Doong Cave
View to the first camp leading to the first doline in Son Doong Cave
Thanh and Watto in the first doline in Hang Son Doong.
Thanh and Watto in the first doline in Hang Son Doong.
Howard, Bamboo, Watto, and Thanh in the first doline in Hang Son Doong.
Howard, Bamboo, Watto, and Thanh in the first doline in Hang Son Doong.
On the path up to the Garden of Edam
On the path up to the Garden of Edam
Plant life growing in the Garden of Edam in Hang Son Doong.
Plant life growing in the Garden of Edam in Hang Son Doong.
Plant life growing in the Garden of Edam in Hang Son Doong.
Plant life growing in the Garden of Edam in Hang Son Doong.
Bamboo standing amongst the plant life in the Garden of Edam in Hang Son Doong.
Bamboo standing amongst the plant life in the Garden of Edam in Hang Son Doong.
Heading into the Garden of Edam in Hang Son Doong.
Heading into the Garden of Edam in Hang Son Doong.
Heading into the Garden of Edam in Hang Son Doong.
Heading into the Garden of Edam in Hang Son Doong.
In the Garden of Edam in Hang Son Doong.
In the Garden of Edam in Hang Son Doong.
In the Garden of Edam in Hang Son Doong.
In the Garden of Edam in Hang Son Doong.
Looking out the first doline at night.
Looking out the first doline at night.
Deb and Adam in a passage of Hang En.
Deb and Adam in a passage of Hang En.
Watto, Deb, and Adam in the exit of Hang En.
Watto, Deb, and Adam in the exit of Hang En.
Trees grow inside the Garden of Edam which is located at the second doline in Hang Son Doong.
Trees grow inside the Garden of Edam which is located at the second doline in Hang Son Doong.

Hang Son Doong

Last August I was given the fantastic opportunity to photograph the world’s largest cave, Hang Son Doong, for Oxalis. Trekking deep in the jungle of Phong Nha Ke Bang to explore this enormous cave is one of the most incredible experiences I have had.

The first camp inside Hang Son Doong with clouds coming in from the first doline.
The first camp inside Hang Son Doong with clouds coming in from the first doline.

I have to begin by saying that these photos wouldn’t have been possible without the tremendous help of the others that were on this trip with me, Howard, Deb, Phuong, Sam, Tessa, Akiko, and Rick as well as the superb porters from Phong Nha led by Ho Khanh. This epic trip began with an hour long car ride to the start of the trek. The trek was as you would expect any jungle trek to be, muddy and lots of leeches. After several hours we reached Doong village, which is a village of around 30 people living inside Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park.

Local women from Doong village catching dinner.
Local women from Doong village catching dinner.

After a short break at Doong village, we continued on to what would be our camping spot for the night, Hang En. Hang En is a spectacular cave as well. It isn’t very long but inside it is massive and looking out the exit of the cave is absolutely stunning. If you aren’t able to make it to Son Doong, I highly recommend a trip to Hang En.

The entrance to Hang En.
The entrance to Hang En, where we spent our first night on the way to Hang Son Doong.
Overlooking camp inside Hang En, Phong Nha Ke Bang, Vietnam.
Overlooking camp inside Hang En.
A small passage inside Hang En.
A small passage inside Hang En.
The enormous exit of Hang En.
The enormous exit of Hang En. If you look closely you can see four people near the exit.

After overnighting in Hang En, we wake up early the next day to continue on to Hang Son Doong. The trek follows a stunning river valley until going up, and up, to a very unassuming cave entrance. It is incredible just how small the cave entrance to Son Doong is and it is no wonder that stayed unknown to the world for so long (discovered in 1991 by Ho Khanh, explored in 2009 by the BCRA). After a 60 meter descent into the cave, we were finally there, inside the world’s largest cave. We would cross underground rivers, see what are probably the largest stalagmites in the world (80 meters high), see 300 million year old fossils embedded in the limestone, and witness some of the greatest and most unique views on this planet. I will leave you with the photos I took inside Hang Son Doong. Enjoy!

The first river crossing inside Hang Son Doong.
The first river crossing inside Hang Son Doong.
The view towards the Hand of Dog inside a large passage of Hang Son Doong.
The view towards the Hand of Dog inside a large passage of Hang Son Doong.
Several people standing at the top of the first doline (hole in the roof), Hang Son Doong.
Several people standing at the top of the first doline (hole in the roof), Hang Son Doong.
Looking back at the first doline, which is appropriately named "Watch Out For Dinosaurs". This is one of my favorite views in Hang Son Doong.
Looking back at the first doline, which is appropriately named “Watch Out For Dinosaurs”. This is one of my favorite views in Hang Son Doong.
Ferns growing in gours near the second doline, better known as the Garden of Edam, Hang Son Doong, Phong Nha Ke Bang, Vietnam.
Ferns growing in gours near the second doline, better known as the Garden of Edam, Hang Son Doong.
Plant life in the Garden of Edam, Hang Son Doong, Phong Nha Ke Bang, Vietnam.
Plant life in the Garden of Edam, Hang Son Doong.
Garden of Edam, Hang Son Doong Cave, Phong Nha Ke Bang, Vietnam.
Garden of Edam, Hang Son Doong.
Looking back towards the second doline in a massive passage of Hang Son Doong, Phong Nha Ke Bang, Vietnam.
Looking back towards the second doline in a massive passage of Hang Son Doong. There are six people in this photo. Can you find them all?
Cave pearls in Hang Son Doong.
Cave pearls in Hang Son Doong.
A sunbeam trying to come through at Watch Out For Dinosaurs, Hang Son Doong, Phong Nha Ke Bang, Vietnam.
A sunbeam trying to come through at Watch Out For Dinosaurs, Hang Son Doong.
Looking back at the first camp and the first doline in Hang Son Doong. The clouds that form around the first doline really adds to the atmosphere of the cave.
Looking back at the first camp and the first doline in Hang Son Doong. The clouds that form around the first doline really adds to the atmosphere of the cave.
Enormous stalagmites in Hang Son Doong. These might very well be the largest stalagmites in the world, standing at 80 meters high.
Enormous stalagmites in Hang Son Doong. These might very well be the largest stalagmites in the world, standing at 80 meters high.
The entrance and exit (that we used) of Hang Son Doong, Phong Nha Ke Bang, Vietnam.
The entrance and exit (that we used) of Hang Son Doong.