Roc Mon Adventure

Dadeo Mountain Pass

The view from Dadeo Mountain Pass.

The day begins with a short journey from your hostel in Phong Nha to pick up your walking and caving shoes. You get a thick pair of socks and some plastic sandals with surprisingly good grip! I’ve been informed the origins of these incredibly fashionable shoes are from the Viet Kong army, where they had to live out and hike through miles of jungle every day. I was doubtful at first, but after clambering over wet rock, I can honestly say they are very effective shoes for the job! And just to reiterate… sooo super stylish…

Walking through Yen Phu VIllageWalking through Yen Phu VIllage

Walking through Yen Phu VIllage

2 curious cows.

Curious cows

Once kitted out, socks pulled up nice and high, you set out in the van along the beautiful Ho Chi Minh highway surrounded by mountains and lush green scenery. The van pulls over and you step out to view the Da Deo mountain pass as your guide gives you some information about the area and other useful nuggets of information to help make your trip to Vietnam educational alongside the gallons of beer and coffee you may partake in. So don’t be shy, share your knowledge and talk with your guide, take photos to make the rest of your friends and family jealous too. Then you’ll jump back in the van and head towards the village where you’ll meet your porter and prepare for the walk. You have time to use the bathroom, and change into different clothes if you have a sudden fashion crisis… or simply feel too hot or cold. I did the whole day in shorts and a vest top and I was fine, but others in my group were just as happy in long sleeved clothing. Bikini on (yes that means you too gents!), sandals strapped up and sun lotion applied, off you go, with your porter carrying a bag pretty much the same size as himself. Led by your guide you head off towards Yen Phu Lake, where almost immediately another awesome photo opportunity presents itself. The lighting is perfect, the hills rise dramatically… as you search around for King Kong! And you really can imagine him being here, afterwards you can watch Kong:Skull Island and see if you can spot the part that was filmed in this area. Absorb the peacefulness, information from the friendly guide and monkey around a bit too!

Crossing a dry riverbed.

Crossing a dry riverbed.

You can see the valley where you be heading as you start walking towards the cave entrance. The path takes you along the riverbed where your socks will get wet, however the shoes remain comfortable! So embrace the feeling and accept your soggy toes in the name of adventure! The route is beautiful, firstly through some village lanes, past farms, surrounded by mountains and green land. Your guide will tell you about the crops growing around you including peanuts and the more recognizable corn. After a while you’ll find yourself on serene river banks where you can hear the frogs croaking away, I was fortunate enough to meet all the tiny froglets hopping about. So. Cute. You’ll find out which plants the local people use, and which ones to avoid!

New friends!

After a not too strenuous walk (being relatively fit!) you arrive for lunch outside the cave. Delicious BBQ meats, tofu and vegetables on the side. We had a salad, sauces and rice paper, essentially make your own spring rolls, but I imagine the meal is slightly different for each tour. There is more than enough to go around, just make sure you don’t eat so much that you sink when you go into the cave! A little time to digest before you clip into your life jackets, helmets and jump right in! Your guides will lead you through the cave swimming, walking and clambering over rocks until you either run out of time or energy.

Our intrepid guides showing off their sandals.

Along the way you’ll see a huge variety of stalagmites and tites resembling tree roots, squids, things straight out of a horror film! Anything your imagination will conjure up. The cave is huge, and spectacularly dark so your heart really gets pumping when you turn off your torches and sit in perfect blindness. After a good few hours spent in the cave you’ll make your way triumphantly out! I was glad by the end for the life jackets, despite being a strong swimmer I was pretty tired by the end and floated out like an otter staring up into the incredible rock.

One of the many little frog/tadpole jumping around on the riverbed.

There will be a hot drink waiting for you, I was certainly glad to see a steaming cup of coffee! You can dry off and change back into your walking clothes, have a banana if you need, and when you’re ready you’ll start to walk back to the village. Once you get to the van you can pop off your wet socks, compare how wrinkly your toes are, and settle in for the ride back. You can nap, stare out the window or spend the time to scroll through the dozens of photos and memories you’ve collected throughout the day. Once you’re dropped off at your hostel, and dropped off your wet clothes I’d recommend checking out one of the spas in town if you’re feeling a bit sore. Or if that’s not your jam… beer always helps!

Chatting by the fire after getting out of the cave.

I want to thank the guys at Green Land Tours for a great day, as well as the group I went with! I had lots of laughs and was so thankful for a tour taking me out of the tourist trap and to somewhere truly peaceful and magical.

 

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