AREA 12: Sang Nhe

SN1 Ban He 2

Ban He 2 is located in a dry valley in Sang Nhe area, 500m to the south of the village of Ban He. It’s a 45 minute walk to the cave, the car can be left either on the main road or at the local school.

Ban He 2 has two entrances both leading to the Entrance Chamber. Entrance 1 is a 15m deep fissure only accessible by rope. Entrance 2, located about 100m further to the north, is a sinkhole of a semi-permanent river where no further equipment is required. A rather straight gallery of about 80m and decorated with formations and helicites also leads to the Entrance Chamber. Here you can see daylight shine into the cave coming from entrance 1. In this chamber another passage can be followed upward. After a short climb followed by a descent one can climb up to the ceilingLieve and Ke above the P17 in Sinh Su 3 to a level higher than the entrances. Here, we heard voices of the village people and a connection with the surface is probable, but a third entrance couldn’t be found.

Following the main passage into the cave a small river is reached, which finally leads to Muddy Hill Chamber. This room is about 20m long and 5m high and oriented in the direction of the joint. A bit further, a 4m pitch can be descended by using a spit on the left-hand side. Here a meander can be followed for another 20m, which finally gets too narrow to pass.

SN2 Ban He 3

Ban He 3 is located in the same valley as Ban He 2, but 500m further to the north. The entrance of Ban He 3 is a sinkhole of an active river, which can be reached by climbing over rocks, wood and bamboo. In the beginning the water disappears under blocks and is reached again after descending a 5m pitch. The pitch gives into a chamber with little waterfalls. The river  can be followed through a gallery with blocks and another inlet in the ceiling. Finally a 15m high waterfall is reached, where two spits were fixed, one at the right hand side and one in the pitch about 5m lower to the left. Descending brings you to a 10m high joint, which ends about 40m further at a sump.

SN3 Suoi Ban Dun

The entrance of Suoi Ban Dun is located next to the main road between Pan De Be and Muong Dun in a fissure to the south of the road. Here several entrances could be found and a considerable amount of water disappears in these fissures, but most of the entrances were choked with wood, bamboo and mud. A strong draft coming out of Suoi Ban Dun could be felt the evening before, today the draft was much less.

The 7m deep and narrow entrance pitch is located underneath roots, which can be used for rigging. After descending you reach a big trunk, the flour is unstable here. It is possible to descend another 7m into a very narrow meander, on the bottom of which the river can be found again. After a few meters the water disappears in a small aperture but can be reached again by climbing over blocks and through a narrow squeeze.
Following the river, which has a considerable discharge here, a little pool is reached. The cave continues behind a narrow passage, leading to an imposing waterfall. We fixed a rope because of the strong current and reached another pool, which finally gives way to a little beach to the right and a foamy sump to the left.

SN4 Ban De 1

Ban De 1 is located to the south of the road between Tua Chua and Pan De Be, about 1km from Pan De Be village. A small path, about 300m long, leads from the road to the entrance, which is located 15m above the bottom of a valley. The cave is dry, fossil and rather unstable.
From the entrance, a 50m long horizontal passage is leading into a little fossil chamber. At the left side one can follow another passage, which crosses a pitch and leads into a second chamber decorated with weathered formations. Here an 11m pitch and another 6m pitch can be descended. Because of the unstable walls the rope had to be fixed carefully at natural threads. The pitches are leading into a narrow gallery, which ends at a dry sump.

SN5  Ban De 2

The entrance is impressive: it’s 3m wide and 12m high. The path that leads you into the cave follows the upper part of the entrance, where some difficult passages were equipped with bamboo. After this entrance canyon the cave becomes easy to follow: high and wide, with a flat floor, covered with dry guano like a thick carpet. The bamboo equipment in the entrance is constructed to obtain guano. The large gallery goes on, and more formations are encountered, which must be climbed to be able to follow the gallery. Where the formations seem to be completely obstructing the way on, a small passage can be found on the right side. While passing this squeeze, the draft extinguished our carbide lights.

After this passage, the cave becomes really beautiful, with formations and flowstone. The gallery continues, until a R20 that can be descended to a ‘forest’ of very old concretions. One can continue a bit further, but only some short muddy galleries were found.

SN6  Ban De 3

The entrance is a pitch which starts in the doline on the left side of the road to Pan De Be. After descending a 16m pitch, one comes into a small chamber where a small meander starts. Another pitch (4.5m) leads to a larger pitch of 27m, which ends on a step. Here two pitches of 8m lead to a muddy slope which gives into a siphonlake.

SN7  Sinh Su 1

The beautiful entrance canyon is located on the side of the valley and is followed by a few steps (no rigging required) which give onto the P50. The pitch ends into a chamber. From there, an active river can be followed here and there interrupted by cascades (2, 2, 4 and 18m). Towards the end of the cave, behind a lake, a sump can be bypassed by climbing over flowstone on the left. Here a P15 brings you down again and soon a second lake is reached, which is the final sump.

SN8  Sinh Su 2

This cave was explored in 1995, on a preparatory visit for the 1997 expedition. The entrance is impressive: from the dirt road, we descended into the deep valley, climbing over rocks and roots. Where the river disappears underground, the entrance is over 20m high. The following gallery is large, the river slopes down until a sump is reached too suddenly.

SN9 Sinh Su 3        Topo (69 kB)

The entrance of this cave was shown to us by a gunman, who called himself a ‘partisan’. It’s located near the road from Tua Chua to Xa Sang Nhe, some 50m above the road in the jungle. It took several days to explore, survey and especially to photograph this beautiful cave.

Pitch Rope  
P6  8m. Tree
R5  7m. 2 Natural threads + glochs
P17  25m. 4 Natural threads, deviations
R5  25m.  2 Natural threads 
R5  10m. 2 Natural threads 

The entrance starts with a 6m pitch, after which one directly descents in a large fossil chamber with lots of old formations. At the back of this chamber is a small passage between flowstone, out of which comes a strong draft. This opening gives way to a second chamber, where one can descend some flowstone, for one of them a small rope is needed (R5). The following chamber is inhabited by a colony of bats. The West side of the chamber is beautifully ornamented (see picture).  At the back of this chamber, another series of flowstone follows, going down to the top of the 17m pitch. Before descending that pitch, one can follow a short gallery to the right, which is also beautifully ornamented.
The flower garden of Sinh Su 3
When coming down from the pitch, one arrives in the main gallery, which is a large fossil riverbed that can be followed to the East or the West.

Going west, a climb on flowstone gives way to formations that choke the gallery completely. By going back and climbing up, a final chamber can be reached.

Eastward the left side of the gallery can be climbed to see more formations, following the main gallery, you reach the fossil gour pools (rice fields). On the right side of the gallery, marvellous gypsum flowers (see picture) can be seen. A bit further, after a flat crawl between formations underneath a flowstone roof, one reaches the balcony. From the P17 to the balcony, the cave is extremely hot, and there is lack of fresh air. The airflow that can be felt sometimes is caused by the displacement of the panicking bat colony. The balcony can be descended on the right side, using a rope to ease going down. Twenty meter further on, a new flowstone chokes the gallery. A squeeze underneath flowstone enables bypassing the obstruction behind which the main gallery is reached again. Behind the next flowstone obstruction, a deep fissure must be traversed. Behind this, a rope eases access to the riverbed. The floor of this part is covered with mud. Behind this, the gallery turns to the east, where abundant white flowstone ‘organs’ decorate the left wall. Towards the end of the cave, the passage goes upward. A giant tree root comes down from the ceiling behind which the cave suddenly ends. This point is very close to the surface at the end nearby valley.

SN10 Pa Nha 1        Topo (32 kB)

The fossil entrance, 2.5m high and 3m wide, is located 30m above the resurgence, which is too narrow, in the valley of Pa Nha.
A short passage is followed by a step, which goes down and gives into a chamber full of old formations. On the left side, there’s a way which leads to the water, close to the exsurgence. When following the main passage, which is clearly the old riverbed (many dried-out gour pools) one arrives into a small chamber, where the water can be heard. Here one remains on the same level to arrive in another chamber, where again, the water can be heard below. On the right, some giant flowstone comes down. From here, traverse to the next chamber, where the fossil part goes on for some 100m to a final chamber with an enormous stalagmite (6m in diameter and over 10m high). Before this part, one climbs down between boulders towards the active system. Here one follows a small Do Tuyet and Sophie in the rice fields of Sinh Su 3river with some pools and small cascades up to a muddy chamber where the ceiling gets low. A 30m swim brings you past a temporary sump into another muddy chamber with blocks and a fossil part, some 4m higher up. A wide gallery (‘Metro’) follows after which one can go two ways. We followed the left part, where the passage turns after about 60m into a small room with spaghetti-like formations. From here one goes through a meander, which is wide enough all the time and is sometimes interrupted by pools or small cascades. Behind a low passage and a cascade (3m) the gallery narrows and after a well decorated part one arrives at a lake. Behind the lake another 3m cascade follows and some 150m further another cascade (5m) is reached which was not yet climbed. To be continued.

December 2000 (2001 Expedition)

SN10 Pa Nha 1

Development: 1951, Denivelation :  +18

The fossil entrance, 2.5m high and 3m wide, is located 30m above the resurgence, which is too narrow to enter. A short passage is followed by a step down and gives in to a chamber full of old formations. On the left side, there is a way, which leads to the water near the resurgence. The main passage is clearly the old riverbed (many dried out sinter pools). Two small chambers follow in which the water can still be heard. On the right a giant flowstone comes down. Traverse into the next chamber, which continues for about 100m to a final chamber with an enormous stalagmite (6m in diameter and 10m high). The fossil part ends here, but just before the stalagmite one can climb down some boulders to reach the active part of the cave. The small river can be followed upstream, with the occasional crossing of pools and small cascades. On arriving in a muddy chamber with blocks and a fossil part, the ceiling gets low but a 30m swim brings you past the temporary sump into another muddy chamber some 4m higher up. A wide gallery (Metro) leads to an intersection where we followed the corridor to the left, which turns suddenly after 60m into a small room with spaghetti-like formations. From here one goes through a long meander, wide but sometimes interrupted by pools and small cascades. Just after a rather low passage and a cascade of 3m the gallery narrows and a well-decorated passage brings you to the lake. Crossing the lake brings you to a cascade of 3m and 150m further another cascade of 6 meters brings you to a new long corridor, only interrupted by 4 rather deep pools and an inlet on the right hand side after 120m.  After climbing the last cascade (3m) the cave continues for 50m before coming to an end at a 2.5m waterfall that falls from the ceiling.


SN11 Pa Nha 2

The entrance of Pa Na 2 is located at the end of a valley about 100m behind the last village on the right side of the valley slope, 20m above the valley bottom. At the moment of our visit the cave was dry (December), but during rainy season the cave contains an active river.
The entrance is a narrow fissure between blocks. A low and short passage gives way to a little climb (down) that gives into a room (13m wide, 14m long). Here a gallery starts which can be followed for about 80m. The gallery becomes too low to continue but on the left side a dig was done between river pebbles to a parallel passage that is 0.5 meter high and the bottom of it consists out of river pebbles. 100m further a first pebble siphon is reached. The passage remains low and narrow and gives way 50m further to a second pebble siphon. The cave gets larger where the floor consists out of mud. At the end of the room a small passage starts with the same dimension as the passage between the two first siphons. A third short pebble siphon is reached. After this siphon the look of the cave changes completely. The dimensions are bigger and the cave goes on by a climb over a boulder slope. The passage is about 10m wide and 5m high. Climbing up between the blocks of a big boulder choke gives way to a chamber of which the roof cannot be seen. The cave ends in a beautiful round chamber, which is the bottom of a pitch. While looking for a way on, a small meander was found that becomes too narrow to continue. At the end of the cave the draft disappears into the pitch which might lead to the surface.


SN12 Trung Du 5 (2001 Expedition)

Development: 160, Denivelation :  -60

 The cave is found by walking to the north from the village of Sang Nhe for about 500m on a path trough the jungle that appears to be a dry riverbed (possibly active during rainy season). The entrance of 2m wide and 8m high brings you after a few steps into the main gallery, which is 8m wide. Walking down the blocks, the gallery becomes more and more narrow and wet. It ends very soon in 3 muddy sumps. In the opposite direction one can follow a narrow and high gallery with a muddy floor, but after 30m it becomes too narrow to continue.


SN13 Trung Du 7 (2001 Expedition)

Development: 140, Denivelation :  -65

From the school in the village go west and cross the newly made path. After 50m into the jungle you cannot miss the big cave entrance (6x3m). The trees outside the entrance can be used to attach the rope for descending the 50m pitch (with one fraction at 8m). On reaching the bottom you can go North or South, but very soon large boulders block both ways.