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Son Doong Expedition Vietnam

Explore and stay in the world’s largest cave, so big it has its own waterways, jungle and climate. Krystle along with our team of guides and porters are specialists in cave photography and will assist in all your logistical needs including supplementary lighting to capture the best images of your spectacular surroundings.

Tour Overview

Explore and stay in the world’s largest cave, so big it has its own waterways, jungle and climate. Krystle along with our team of guides and porters are specialists in cave photography and will assist in all your logistical needs including supplementary lighting to capture the best images of your spectacular surroundings.

As a bonus before and after the expedition you will enjoy some of Vietnam’s most generous opportunities for the photographer; the old quarter of Hanoi and the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Hue and Hoi An.

Only recently discovered, Son Doong cave has been open to strictly limited numbers of visitors since 2013. The cave is 5km long with interiors over 200m in height in places. It has its own weather system, the world’s largest stalagmite over 70m high, fossils, rare limestone ‘cave pearls’, giant sink holes and collapsed ceilings allowing the dramatic play of giant shafts of light.

We will also spend time in Hang En, the third largest cave in the world which boasts its own sandy beach; a perfect spot for an overnight camp.

Photo credit: Elina Yao, Ryan Ryan Deboodt

When

July/August 2019. The exact date will soon be announced.

Where

Vietnam

Price

$11,995 per person

YOUR MENTOR FOR THIS TRIP

Krystle Wright

Adventure Photographer

Whether she’s camping on a frozen fjord for a month in the Arctic with 23 BASE jumpers, paragliding in the Karakoram Range in Pakistan or sleeping on the back of a yacht on the Great Barrier Reef, Krystle strives to pursue fresh challenges, to seek out undiscovered layers and dimensions in her work, and is recognised for her creativity, composition, and an indomitable spirit in the face of adversity.

The Fotoworkshops photography tours and workshops are led by industry leading photographers. The Fotoworkshops mentors are among the best in their fields, and strive to give each and every participant the most enjoyable, educational and memorable tour experience possible.

Join Krystle Wright for this exclusive experience

Our exclusive group will have a maximum number of 10 participants supported by 25 porters, caving experts, local guides, two chefs and two park rangers. Everyone’s safety and welfare plus preservation of the cave are paramount.

Explore the largest cave in the world

The expedition will not be rushed allowing plenty of time for photography and exploration. Climbing and caving experience is not necessary however, all participants will be required to have a very good level of fitness and some previous experience in trekking.

What you will photograph

  • Giant sink holes
  • Fossils
  • Giant light shafts
  • Rare limestone ‘cave pearls’
  • The world’s largest stalagmite

What to bring

YOU WILL NEED
2 – 3 long quick dry, full length pants and
4 – 5 (easy to dry) shirts (at least one long-sleeved shirt) to wear during the trek; thick athletic leggings/running tights/yoga pants are acceptable if they are full-length and not see-through. Jeans are not acceptable.
You may feel more comfortable packing a set of clothes for each day, but most people re-wear trekking clothes for multiple days.
1 – 2 pair of shorts and t-shirt to wear at campsite (plus your swimsuit for Hang En); warmer camp clothes suggested for colder months
1 Fleece and 1 lightweight windproof/jacket (February – April only)
Trekking boots/shoes – difficult terrain, good footwear necessary. Recommended: Salomon XA Enduro, Salomon Speed Cross 4 (Keen/Merrell has good quality trekking boots/shoes as well).
Gore-Tex/waterproof boots are NOT recommended as they do not drain well. If you are comfortable with your own shoes and used to trek with low- gore tex shoes, it will be fine. Also consider bringing a backup pair of shoes.
Underwear
1 pair of thongs or sandals for campsite
1 medium size towel
4 – 5 pairs of calf-length close weave socks (not ankle socks or waterproof socks – no neoprene; SmartWool is a good brand; if you go with cotton, make sure it’s composed of 50% or less cotton)
Anti-fungal foot powder/talcum powder (your feet are often wet)
Dry shampoo & wet wipes (very limited bathing inside the cave)
Medium sized rucksack/backpack for daily belongings, most people find 25 L adequate; backpack must fit the helmet we will provide for you and cannot be strapped to the outside; you will also be responsible for carrying your own tripod in your backpack. (Camel pack will not be considered as a day-pack)
Water bottle at least 1.5 L
Personal items – toiletries, medication, camera, tripod, spare batteries (toiletries should also include feminine hygiene products for ladies, even if it’s “just in case”)
Sunscreen and hat
Mosquito repellent
Small head-torch for use around camp
Rehydration tablets
‘Compeed’/blister dressings
Medication – bring any essential medication and anything you take regularly (e.g anti-inflammatories). We supply drugs for emergency/unexpected conditions only.
AA/AAA batteries if needed (low quality only available locally)

The following items are not required but highly recommended:
Dry bag in the event of rain (for camera, clothing, and personal items within your daypack); alternatively, a backpack cover would be a good idea especially for the rainier months of February – April
Gloves, as ours are one-size-fits-all (if you bring your own, please choose gloves with fingertips)
Cotton or silk sleeping bag liner
Swimwear (for Hang En)

Important Notes:
We will have porters carry any of your gear that you will not require during each day (e.g. camera equipment/clothes you do not need during the day can be taken ahead to the campsite for you). You will not be able to access this until you reach the campsite. Please respect our porters and do not bring too much luggage for them to carry (7 kg per person). No outdoor equipment is available in Phong Nha, and only limited items in Hanoi or Saigon.

EQUIPMENT
You will carry your own camera equipment during the day and porters will carry all other gear. Pack light and in waterproof bags as everyone and everything will get wet. At this time of year, the temperature should be a constant 28 degrees so there is no need for cold-weather gear. Safety and climbing gear will be provided as listed.

CAMERA EQUIPMENT
DSLR camera(s)
Extra batteries – generators will also be available.
Extra film cards
Zoom lenses from wide angle to 200mm
Fixed prime lenses
Macro lens if you are keen. Many opportunities e.g. coral fossils, insects, plants
A stable tripod that is compact enough for a daypack.
Any flash though we will be providing artificial light at certain locations
Dry-sacks/waterproof bags.

Regarding drones:
Drones are NOT allowed on the Son Doong Expedition. There is no exception to this policy.

Meals

Breakfast, lunch & dinner will be
provided each day.

Place secure deposit

$5,997.50Add to cart

Once you place your deposit through our secure booking platform your place will be reserved instantly. The team will then be in contact with you to provide you will all the information you will require and confirm your trip details. If you would prefer to make your booking with the team directly, please email bookings@fotoworkshops.com.au

Tour Overview

Day 1 – Hanoi

Upon arrival at Hanoi’s international airport, you will be transferred to your excellent hotel, located in the historic, colourful Old Quarter of Hanoi; the perfect place to explore on foot. A range of optional activities will be suggested.

Day 2 – Hanoi

Today you will be given a tour of the Old Quarter of Hanoi by cyclo, Vietnam’s own version of the bicycle rickshaw. You will have ample time and opportunities to shoot images from the comfort of your cyclo or to stop frequently for more considered studies.

The other guided tour will be to a community untouched by tourism. It has an iconic remnant of the ‘American War’, narrow lanes, local markets, quaint home and courtyards, waterways and an unhurried, authentic sense of life in Hanoi.

Day 3 – Hanoi, Phong Nha

We fly from Hanoi to Dong Hoi airport, the gateway to the UNESCO listed Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park in which the Son Doong cave is located. A 40km drive takes us to the village of Phong Nha and our hotel for the night.

Before dinner, an information session will be conducted by our expert guides covering safety and equipment checks and the allocation of everyone’s belongings to porters. Sleep well before tomorrow’s exertions.

Day 4 – Phong Nha – Ban Doong Village – Hang En cave

After breakfast, a 45-minute drive takes us to the trailhead, a 1-hour downhill trek through forest and a 30-minute walk along a stream to the minority village of Ban Doong. Learn about this unique ethnic group as you enjoy a river-side lunch.

Beautiful jungle, limestone cliffs, butterflies and birds oversee your many river crossings by foot for about 2 hours will lead you to Hang En cave, the third largest cave in the world, home to thousands of swifts, an underground river and a beach which will be our home for the night. This spectacular campsite will be our base for swimming, exploring and many photographic opportunities.

Day 5 – Hang En – Son Doong – Hand of Dog – Fossil Passage

After breakfast we begin a tough day. Making our way through Hang En cave, we reach an entrance which has become a magnet for photographers in recent years. Scrambling down a river valley, river crossings, steep hill-climbing and rock-hopping then lunch.

After safety harnesses are fitted, there are steep descents to the Son Doong cave, an 80m descent into the cave (no abseiling required), climbing and bouldering, two underground river crossings (your best chance to wash) and then on further into the cave to your first campsite in Son Doong. On the way you will see the celebrated ‘Hand of Dog’ stalagmite and shafts of daylight breaking through a doline. From camp we head down to view coral fossils, great for some macro photography, and also enjoy a refreshing swim.

Day 6 – Watch out for Dinosaurs – Garden of Edam – Camp 2

This morning, rocky climbs lead to Son Doong’s first in-cave jungle appropriately named ‘Watch out for Dinosaurs’. It is then down to the impressive Green Gours, a magnificent and favourite subject for photographers.

After lunch and proceeding through the cave, you will see ‘cave pearls’, gigantic limestone formations, the second doline and the cave’s main underground jungle.

A steep and sometimes slippery path leads you to our second campsite in Son Doong. The rest of the afternoon is a venture further into the cave past collections of stalagmites, habitats of unique insects and little creatures and magical shots looking back towards the second doline and the light it affords.

Dinner, games, entertainment, relaxing and taking in sensational views all occur in possibly the best campsite in the world.

Day 7 – Wall of Vietnam – Son Doong exit – Chay Lap

After breakfast you will be scaling the ‘Wall of Vietnam’ with ladders, ropes, safety lines and the support of your expert team. Having scaled the wall, you pass flowstones, ‘cave pearls’ and eventually have lunch before emerging from the cave and into the jungle.

Short walks on rocky, hilly ground and a 45-minute drive delivers you to the Chay Lap Farmstay where cool towels and a refreshing pool are there to revive you. A final dinner with all expedition team members will be a fond and fitting end to this unique experience.

Day 8 – Hue – Hai Van Pass – Hoi An

A 4-hour drive from Chay Lap Farmstay to the ancient city of Hue will allow time to enjoy some architectural, street and cultural photography.

The former imperial city of Hue on the Perfume River has a number of impressive sites including the ornate Imperial Citadel, the colourful Thanh Toan Bridge, forbidden tombs and the forbidden Purple City.

Day 9 – Hue – Hai Van Pass – Hoi An

A short (135km, 3 hours) drive to Hoi An includes the highest pass and one of the most scenic hillside roads in Vietnam with its dramatic combination of mountainside and dramatic coastline.

Your hotel in Hoi An is selected for its perfectly convenient location, allowing for ease of access to this historic and picaresque town which had been a prosperous trading port between the 15th and 19th centuries and is now a well-preserved and maintained UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Photographers will be spoilt for choice with excellent local markets, ancient terracotta-tiles homes, Chinese temples, riverside boulevards, French colonial buildings, old Japanese covered bridge, long beaches, fishing craft, colourful lanterns, artisans and relaxed atmosphere.

Day 10 – Hoi An

After a morning orientation walking-tour of Hoi An it is best to leave you to explore this gem of a location as and when you like. You will be provided information and guidance on the wide range of activities available for travellers; everything from visiting artisans, photo galleries, having your ears expertly cleaned or taking a trip downriver to an excellent cooking class.

Day 11 – Hoi An

Another day of indulgence and exploration. Did we mention the expert and quality tailoring available in Hoi An? The variety of relaxed bars, spas, restaurants, boutiques and art galleries, the evening boat rides with colourful lanterns reflected on the river, rural hamlets nearby, the Cham museum in Danang and the delight of getting lost in a labyrinth of neighbourhood lanes.

Day 11 – Hoi An – Danang – Departure

The tour concludes with a transfer to the international airport at Danang.

The tour will include the following activities that you are sure you can accomplish with ease.

  • 25 km jungle and mountain trekking
  • Walking with changes in elevation of up to 400m in difficult terrain
  • Surface river crossings: 40 times (knee deep, 10-50m wide river)
  • 7 km caving including rope climbs, rocky terrain and scrambling (including 90m ascent of the ‘Great Wall of Vietnam’ but no abseiling required)
  • Underground river crossings with strong currents.

Fitness Requirements

  • Regular running, trekking, caving or rock climbing (at least once per month). Other outdoor pursuits may be considered
  • Strong legs and good balance
  • Experience of multi-day treks
  • General good health and fitness

Our expedition staff (cave expert or guide) reserves the right to decline, accept or retain any person as a member of any party at any time without compensation or refund due to safety issues.

Included in Son Doong Expedition Vietnam cost

All surface transport and the domestic flight from Hanoi to Don Hoi.
Air-conditioned vehicles throughout. Every client is guaranteed a window seat.
Carefully selected accommodation maximising comfort, convenience, location and value. Costing is per person, twin share.
All meals
English-speaking guides throughout.
All entry and park fees and taxes

When in the caves:
Twin-share accommodation in tented camps with eco-friendly composting toilet with western-style seat.
Camping gear: tent, sleeping mat, pillow, and sleeping bag
Safety gear, caving and climbing equipment including harness, gloves, caving helmet and strong headlamp.
A focus on more technical cave photography that cannot be accomplished on normal tours
Provision for night-time photography
Use of 32,000 lumen LED lights to enhance photographic opportunities
A small generator for charging batteries
First Aid Kit, Medical Rescue Equipment including Satellite Phone – staff use only

A local specialist team comprising:
A Safety Advisor (member of the British Cave Research Association)
Professional English-speaking tour guide and guide safety assistants
A team of porters to carry all gear and prepare all meals
Guide/photography assistants to carry up to maximum 5 kg of photo equipment per customer on the trekking days, act as models, use filming lights, so photographers can all take photos and are not involved in unnecessary logistical issues.

Not Included in Son Doong Expedition Vietnam cost:

International airfares – we can assist you with arrangements.
Personal travel insurance, a compulsory requirement for particpants.
Visa costs
Items of a personal nature e.g .laundry, extra drinks, souvenirs, phone-calls etc

*Tour itinerary is subject to change at the discretion of Fotoworkshops. Please read our Terms & Conditions for more information.

Why choose our Landscape Photography Tours?

Imagine combining a dream holiday with your passion to explore and gain new expertise in one of the greatest art forms ever created – photography. With Fotoworkshops, you will be able to learn photography from our growing list of eminent photographic mentors whose work has been appreciated and awarded all over the world. Having been bestowed with numerous awards, these professionals are the best in their fields having proven their merit for several years.

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Give some one you know a personalised gift towards any of our Photo Tours, Landscape Photography Workshops or Personalised Photography Tours. Vouchers are available in any amount from $100.

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Private Guided Tours

If groups are not for you and you would prefer to travel by yourself or with a group of friends and family then we can accommodate your needs by customizing a Photography Tour to suit your individual needs, schedule, budget and interests.

We also offer private one or two day photo tours and workshops in many of our locations. Please or email us for rates and information.

Travel Insurance

Keep in mind travel insurance is a compulsory part of booking any of our Landscape Photography Workshops

How To Book

Once you place your deposit through our secure booking platform your place will be reserved instantly. The team will then be in contact with you to provide you will all the information you will require and confirm your trip details. If you would prefer to make your booking with the team directly, please email bookings@fotoworkshops.com.au

$5,997.50Add to cart

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