Recently, foreign media reported that German explorers identified that Vietnam’s southern province of Dong Nai has Southeast Asia’s longest cave formed by volcanoes.
The distinction was given to a cave in Tan Phu District after scientists from the Vietnam Institute of Tropical Biology and the Berlin Caving Club spent two months surveying 11 lava caves in the province.
The arc-shaped cave, named Doi (Bat) by locals, is 534 meters long including a damaged segment, while its intact portion is 426 meters long, beating Indonesia’s Gua Lawah Cave, which is 400 meters long.
Doi Cave is four meters high and 10 meters wide at the largest part, with some parts the height of an average person.
Scientists also found copious amounts of mud on the floor of the rocky cave, and determined it had arrived there via floods during rainy seasons. Bats, snakes, centipedes, scorpions, and amphibians were also found inhabiting the cave. Therefore, local authorities have set up signboards banning people from catching bats in the cave to protect its biodiversity.
After finding this information, we made a journey to the edge of Cat Tien National Park to try and see the new cave despite the intense heat.
We were lucky to have Nguyen Van Lam, a 60-year-old local as our guide to the cave lurking in the dense forest. The first entrance to the cave Lam took us to was pretty narrow and to enter we needed some equipment such as an oxygen cylinder, mask, flashlight and rope as it was very dark, slippery, narrow and foul-smelling due to bat droppings.
Lam said there were four other cave entrances behind that one and all of them are home to thousands of bats. However, locals do not dare to enter the cave as the entrances are small and filled with rocks and soil. Lam said if someone wants to come into the cave this way would require a lot of hard work.
During our cave-exploration, Lam took us to seven cave entrances, of which some are located right on the pepper and banana farms of locals.
There was only one entrance which had easy access but because it is very deep in the mountain we could only spend a short time there as it was too dangerous.
For the first time, we had a chance to admire giant lave works formed from volcanoes and we thought they would be a great attraction for tourists later. We also found out that bats just live in caves formed by lava and stay away from caves formed from white and grey rocks.