Inside one of the newly-discovered lava caves in Dak Nong Province. Photo credit: Tien Phong
A joint team of Vietnamese and Japanese scientists have discovered what they believe is Southeast Asia's longest lava cave system in the Central Highlands province of Dak Nong, according to Vietnam's General Department of Geology and Mineral Resources.
Scientists from the department and members of the Japanese Caving Association made the breakthrough discovery after seven years of research, Nguyen Van Thuan, director of the department, told Tien Phong (Pioneer) newspaper.
Thuan said the cave system is a unique vestige of a formative volcanic eruption that took place millions of years ago.
It includes 12 lava caves, three of which have been surveyed in detail, Thuan said.
Located mostly in Dak Nong’s Krong No District, the system stretches around 25 kilometers from a lava cave in Choar Village, along the Serepok River to Dray Sap Waterfall, which features dozens of caves.
Thuan said scientists have conducted detailed surveys of three caves--the longest of which measures around a kilometer in length.
This cave has very unique structure, he said, adding that it offers some magnificent views. Its entrance is located deep inside a forest.
Japanese scientists said the cave system is the longest and most beautiful of its kind in Southeast Asia and will prove to be a great resource for research and tourism.
The General Department of Geology and Minerals of Vietnam will officially announce the discovery later this week to solicit funding for further research.
Once the research is finished, the department will develop a plan to turn the cave system into a geological park, according to the department.
Le Khac Ghi, director of Dak Nong Province’s tourism department, said the newly-discovered caves are located in Dray Sap Forest.
Ghi said the system is fairly easy to navigate. The caves have great potential for eco tourism and adventure travel, he said.
Vietnam boasts many diversified cave systems dotted throughout the country--from the northwest to the central region.
The recent discovery represents the longest volcanic cave system ever found in Vietnam.