You’d think that after a few hundred thousand years, us humans would have the Earth fully mapped out. We largely do, but it’s interesting to know that there are still places – large places – that we’ve yet to discover.
This was made clear in 2009 when a team headed to central Vietnam close to the Laotian border, to learn more about a tantalizing rumor. They’d heard that in 1991 a farmer took shelter from a storm in a remote cave, and knew by the sound of water and rushing wind coming from deep inside that it was much bigger than it seemed. But it was hard to get to, and was soon forgotten. However, with a bit of perseverance, the 2009 team managed to enter the small cave that the farmer found and make their way over a steep wall to where the sound of the river was coming from, and what they found amazed them.
Son Doong Cave, as it was eventually known, turned out to be the largest in the world, with its own river and jungle ecosystem that had been hidden from the outside world for millions of years. The scale of the cave is massive – some parts measure 150 meters across and several hundred meters high, big enough to house several city blocks quite comfortably. Huge holes hundreds of feet above let shafts of sunlight pierce the clouds inside the cave, illuminating the vines and moss and rock formations that have sat undisturbed for millennia. It’s like something out of an Arthur Conan Doyle novel.
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It’s truly something to behold, and these humble words don’t do it justice. To see some stunning pictures, check out this National Geographic story on the first exploration of the cave, or this jaw-dropping drone footage from inside the cave.
Far from being just a pretty hole in the ground, we feel that the cave represents something important about travel, and that is: no matter how well you think you know a place, there is always some new restaurant, some hidden street, some previously unknown angle, that adds a bit more depth to an area you thought was all wrapped up. Not only is it why some of our guests are on their third or fourth SA adventure, but it’s one of the reasons that keeps us excited about our job. Sure, we’ve been to Angkor a thousand times. But what if this time we find something new?
While we don’t organize any trips to Son Doong Cave (yet), we do explore almost all corners of Vietnam. From the buzzing streets of Hanoi and clubs of Saigon to the silent sunrises of Halong Bay and the crumbling beauty of Hue, Vietnam is a traveler’s dream. We’ve never stopped discovering new things there, and it thrills us to be able to show them to our guests.