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What to Expect

This level 5 expedition is a challenging trek that will push your endurance to the limit. Totalling 20km of trekking with 5km caving and 1km of underground swimming, you will climb a total of 900 metres, scale a 10m ladder and abseil 15 metres. Over four action-packed days, you will explore numerous cave formations, abseil down into Tu Lan Cave to the underground river, climb plenty of steep hills and trek through spectacular valleys. You will stop at a range of different campsites along the way, until the expedition culminates in a visit to the biggest cave in the Hang Tien system. You will feel a real sense of achievement as you finally reach the road and return to civilization at the end of the fourth day.

What You Will Do

Day 1

Hung Ton - Tu Lan Campsite


You will be picked up from your hotel between 7.30 and 8.00 am, for an hour’s drive to Oxalis Office in Tan Hoa, located 70 km from Phong Nha. Here you will have a tour briefing and prepare for the expedition. The trek starts with a flat path past peanut fields and grazing buffalo. A river crossing leads to a short but steep and rocky uphill section, followed by a corresponding downhill descent into the next valley. Cross the valley on a flat path, and enjoy a picnic lunch at the entrance of Hung Ton Cave. More hills and jungle trekking follow, before you arrive at Tu Lan Valley and make camp for the night. Finish off the day with a swim into Ken Cave, then dinner is prepared and served by the porter team. After dinner, enjoy chatting or card games before sleeping in your comfortable tent. Composting toilets are provided at camps.

Day 2

To Mo Valley - La Ken Campsite


Today you will trek and swim through three caves: Tu Lan, Kim and Hung Ton. You will also complete an underground abseil. After breakfast, you will have a briefing and get the chance to practice using the abseil equipment. From the campsite, trek across the valley and into the dry entrance of Tu Lan Cave and follow the dry passage to its end. Here the safety team will help you put on the abseil equipment. Enjoy the 15m abseil into the lower river passage with only your headlight for illumination. Our guide and safety team will assist you all the way. Land on the raft and paddle out of the wet entrance, then return to camp for a welcome lunch, followed by a trek to Kim Cave. Enter the small entrance via a short climb, and follow the dry passage to meet the underground river. A series of short swims and waterfalls brings you to the beautiful To Mo Valley. Cross the valley and enter Hung Ton Cave next to the small waterfall. Swim along to the dry passage, where you will climb a metal ladder with the extra protection of a safety line. Follow the dry passage to the exit. The final hill of the day follows, with a steep 150m climb and descent into the next valley of La Ken and camp. Enjoy your dinner after a long, challenging and satisfying day.

Day 3

Hung Nhai – Tien Campsite


The third day is a long trekking day over hills and through beautiful valleys and jungle. You will cover a total of 8km and climb around 350m of ascent. From camp, you will head uphill and trek through the jungle to Hung Nhai; a pleasant and mainly flat scenic valley. Lunch will be served next to the river, before the last big hill of the day. Ascend and descend around 200m to arrive at a different river valley. A short trek upstream leads you to your campsite and welcome blue lagoon. Here the underground river wells up, providing a cool natural swimming pool. Relax and enjoy a refreshing dip after your long hike.

Day 4

Hang Tien - Chay Lap Farmstay

The pace continues on the fourth and final day. After breakfast you will follow a very rocky trail to the entrance of Hang Tien, which is the largest cave in the Tu Lan System. Pass inside the spectacular entrance and proceed through the cave to the exit, with a 10m ladder climb (using a safety rope). A short jungle section leads you to the second dry cave, with amazing rock patterns and cave formations. Return back the same way and enjoy a lunch break. The final challenge of the Expedition now follows; a 200m jungle ascent. Once you reach the top it is a relatively short and easy descent to the road, where you will be picked up with a welcome cold drink. Return to the office around 4.30 pm and enjoy a welcome shower before return transfer.

Choice of accommodation

Our ‘Tu Lan Expedition’ package includes:

  • • Accommodation with meals as indicated in the programme
  • • 1 night’s accommodation at Chay Lap Farmstay (single or twin-shared)
  • • Camping gear: tent, camp light, sleeping bag, mattresses, pillow
  • • Caving & safety gear: helmet, life jacket, gloves, safety harness, ropes
  • • Professional caving headlight (Hope Technology headlights – 1500 lumens)
  • • Photography lighting supports (Hope Technology – R8 3,000 lumens)
  • • Light PVC backpack (if you do not want to take your own, as it will get wet)
  • • Dry bag (for clothing and personal belongings excl. electronics)
  • • Basic canvas trekking boots (in case you do not have your own pair) sizes 36 – 46
  • • Meals: picnic lunch and dinner (day 1, 2, 3 & 4), breakfast (day 2, 3, 4, and departure)
  • • Gala dinner on day 4
  • • Professional English-speaking tour guide and safety assistants
  • • Porter team to carry all camping gear and prepare all meals
  • • Porter team to carry all your personal belongings to camp
  • • Shared dry box for phones and small cameras (limited availability for larger cameras)
  • • Water purifier (used only by guide and porters) and water bottle
  • • Basic camping facilities with eco-friendly compost toilet using western toilet seat
  • • First Aid Kit and Medical Rescue Equipment (application by guides and porters only)
  • • Secure Storage Facility at Oxalis Tan Hoa office to store all luggage you will not be taking on the trek
  • • Transfer between Chay Lap Farmstay and Dong Hoi city centre before and after tour
  • • 1-hour complimentary kayaking at Chay Riverside

Our ‘Tu Lan Expedition’ package does NOT include:

Good to know

  • • Bring 2 long (easy to dry) pants and 2 long-sleeved shirt to wear during the trek (quick dry)
  • • Bring 2 pairs of shorts and t-shirts to wear at campsite
  • • Bring swimwear
  • • Bring 1 pair of trekking boots/shoes – difficult terrain, good footwear necessary. Gore-Tex/waterproof boots are NOT recommended as they do not drain well (if you prefer your own comfortable pair)
  • • Bring 1 pair of flip flops (sandals) for campsite
  • • Bring 1 medium-size towel
  • • Bring 3-4 pairs of calf-length densely woven socks (not ankle socks!)
  • • Bring anti-fungal foot powder (talcum powder)
  • • Bring personal items: mosquito repellent, sunglasses, hat, camera, underwear, toiletries
  • • Bring shoe pads and thick socks if using Oxalis canvas trekking boots

Terms & Condition

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