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This article is on This story appears in the June 2019 issue of National Geographic magazine.

"According to Howard Limbert, “The cave is quite deep inside the jungle, so the location itself is a risk. Although it’s such a huge cave, the terrain is not easy, so initially it is quite difficult to find the best way to progress. For experienced cavers, the risks are not so great, but we always respect the fact that we are a long way from home and help. It is a challenge to measure and map such a huge cave passage.”

Soon after, the Limberts’ team mapped the cave, and researchers realized that Son Doong wasn’t just big, it was the largest cave ever discovered. While exhilarating to the cave exploration community, this headline-grabbing revelation created a problem seen at nature’s grandest sites, from Yosemite National Park to Mt. Everest: tourism and the balance between access and preservation.

While some have tried to expand access to allow thousands of tourists to visit, a large number of Vietnamese people managed to convince the authorities to resist such plans. For now, the only way to enjoy the splendor of Son Doong is through Oxalis, an adventure travel company that employs the Limberts as well as Ho Khanh and other locals.

On the exclusive tour with Oxalis, guests will spend four days and three nights camping in the cave system (two nights in Son Doong, and one in nearby Hang En cave, reckoned to be the world’s third-largest). While Limbert insists visitors be in reasonable physical condition and have some experience trekking on rough and rocky terrain, this isn't a place reserved solely for death-defying adrenaline junkies.

A fear of heights isn't ideal either, but most of the dangerous and difficult spots are protected with ropes, and guests wear caving harnesses for additional safety. In fact, for each group of 10 visitors, there are seven safety staff, showing how seriously the company takes the well-being of its clients. In all, 27 staff members, including guides, chefs and porters, ensure you can safely explore the cave system, without sacrificing good cuisine or relatively comfortable camping accommodations.

Visitors get to climb the Great Wall of Vietnam, a roughly 90-meter calcite barrier, and visit the ethnic minority village of Ban Doong, in addition to the 25 km of jungle trekking, which includes 9 km of caving. The crew even bring portable lighting equipment to illuminate the cave’s myriad visual features, allowing for jaw-dropping nature photography.

As Son Doong cave’s fame becomes more widespread, and the places on Earth considered to be on the frontier of discovery and exploration seemingly diminish, there appears to be an inevitable growth in demand for visits to the site, placing it and the heart of the UNESCO-listed Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park under the threat of rampant tourism and overuse.

But with Oxalis and the local park and government authorities committed to the site for the long term, both for natural as well as economic reasons, there’s a chance to maintain the equilibrium of the newfound wonder.

Oxalis tries to ensure this as, according to Limbert, “We have a single path throughout the cave, and we make sure everyone sticks to that. All rubbish is brought out of the cave, including human waste. Cooking is by gas bottle. Everyone is reminded that this is a UNESCO World Heritage site. And all staff now realize the value of the cave in providing jobs, so they are keen to protect it, and keep the tours going for the future.”

According to Howard Limbert, “The cave is quite deep inside the jungle, so the location itself is a risk. Although it’s such a huge cave, the terrain is not easy, so initially it is quite difficult to find the best way to progress. For experienced cavers, the risks are not so great, but we always respect the fact that we are a long way from home and help. It is a challenge to measure and map such a huge cave passage.”

Soon after, the Limberts’ team mapped the cave, and researchers realized that Son Doong wasn’t just big, it was the largest cave ever discovered. While exhilarating to the cave exploration community, this headline-grabbing revelation created a problem seen at nature’s grandest sites, from Yosemite National Park to Mt. Everest: tourism and the balance between access and preservation.

While some have tried to expand access to allow thousands of tourists to visit, a large number of Vietnamese people managed to convince the authorities to resist such plans. For now, the only way to enjoy the splendor of Son Doong is through Oxalis, an adventure travel company that employs the Limberts as well as Ho Khanh and other locals.

On the exclusive tour with Oxalis, guests will spend four days and three nights camping in the cave system (two nights in Son Doong, and one in nearby Hang En cave, reckoned to be the world’s third-largest). While Limbert insists visitors be in reasonable physical condition and have some experience trekking on rough and rocky terrain, this isn't a place reserved solely for death-defying adrenaline junkies. "

Please read full article here: https://www.maxim.com/news/explore-the-worlds-largest-cave-201

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Whether you prefer long treks, camping in a cave, sleeping under the stars in the jungle, swimming underground in river caves, explore the huge dry caves or just taking an exploratory day trip, Oxalis Adventure Tours can provide the right amount of adventure just for you.

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