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Into the dark depths of Kong Lor cave

We were up early not only because we wanted to get down to the cave hopefully before anyone else but also because the building work behind us started at dawn along with the cockerels so a lie in would have been impossible! The views were just as magnificent as the day before as we had breakfast and started the short walk to the national park. It was good to be up to see the village coming to life.


The fact that you can navigate through Kong Lor cave to the other side was discovered in 16th century when villagers noticed after heavy rain that debris would go into the cave but then not come out again...maybe the Nam Hinboun River was travelling all the way through. Four brave men from the local villages were selected to check it out not knowing if they would make it through the cave or return home again. To help them find their way back they left a trail of rice husks behind them. They managed to boat through the mountain to the other side and discovered a village which they had previously been cut off from. Today local people travel through the cave each day on longboats taking supplies and goods to the other side and vice versa.

In the national park we made our way to the ticket office to organise a boat to take us through the cave. A boat with a driver and a spotter costs 100,000 kip and then an additional 5,000 kip per person. We also rented a headtorch as I had somehow broken mine and Dans was weak. If you go definitely bring a very strong light as there is no natural light once in the cave and if your torch is weak you won't see much!

Life jackets on we walked down to the river and the mouth of the cave which would take us through the impressive limestone mountain.


As we walked into the cave we were hit by the hot humid air so much so that my glasses steeped up. A bit precarious trying to step over rocks in the decreasing light as we made our way into the cave to get into our longtail boat. Thinking it would be this hot throughout the journey we took off our jumpers but we should have kept them on as it soon got cold once we were further away into the depths of the cave.


As we looked behind us the light from the mouth of the cave got smaller and smaller and soon there was only the impenetrable darkness in both directions. The beams of our head torches were the only light and the sound of the motorboat echoed through the cave. I could hardly see our spotter called Thom sitting in front of me when my torch was not on him. He was constantly moving his torch to highlight rocks for the driver to avoid and upcoming turns in the cave. Their ability to navigate through in the pitch black was very impressive and we knew we were in good hands.


It would take us an hour to get through the eerie cave and out to the other side and the mind starts to play tricks on you, "what if our torches run out of battery?" "What happens if the boat breaks down?" "Was that something moving in the dark?" To be stuck in there with no light would be very creepy, this is exactly the kind of place I'd imagine Gollum living in. There are also meant to be spiders in the cave that span 25cm!! I definitely didn't want one of those dropping into the boat although I weirdly also wanted to see one at the same time. We did see some bats though on the ceiling.

It is hard to describe how vast this cave is! At points the ceiling must have been as tall as a skyscraper above us as we travelled through the mountain to the other side. In some places the light from our torches could not even reach the top! The flash on my camera was not good enough to pick a lot of things out but there was one section of the cave that has been artificially lit which you are not aware of until to get out on a sandbar in the cave and the guide flicks a switch...Ta daaa!


Fortunately they had stuck away from the bright blue, green and purple lights we had seen in other caves on our trip which was great as it gave it more of a natural feel. We were the only people there too which was fantastic, like we were adventuers finding the cave for ourselves.


At several points the water got so shallow that we had to get out the boat and help to drag it into deeper water. Definitely glad we wore shorts and sandals, at some points I was up to my knees in the cold water.


The light streaming in when we reached the end of the tunnel after an hour in the dark was a welcome sight!


And the views of the mountains as we came through to the other side were spectacular. It was an amazing experience coming out into a place that was so beautiful.


Now on the other side we walked to Natane Village, it seemed almost deserted although a few faces looked out from the houses. maybe they were just getting up or had already gone out for the day.


We were glad we were the first people to come through though as walking around with lots of other tourists would have felt a bit weird. On our own we could say hello and walk through the village quietly before returning back to start the journey back through the mountain. As we headed back we started to see some of the first other tourists of the day coming through.

This video shows us going back into the cave for the return journey...

We were back at our hostel by midday and then we had to work out how we were going to continue our journey north!


Posted by doyledan 08:44 Archived in Laos

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