One of the most impressive parts of the entire Loop was the newly-discovered Konglor Cave. Konglor is a cave that you access by a subterranean river. The cave was first discovered in 1995, first accessed by motorboat in 2002, and is now used to for tourism and to connect two rural villages only previously accessible by a multi-hour climb over a steep mountain. In 2008, a French NGO worked with the local government to provide lighting inside the cave to show-off the impressive stalactites and stalagmites and thus make the cave more appealing to foreign visitors.
Ted and I traveled through the cave in a long skinny boat with our non-English speaking guide and his non-English speaking assistant. With the help of some hand gestures and common sense, we determined when we needed to get out of the boat to walk around and check out the cave for ourselves. It was an incredibly impressive place – we were really blown away. Though there were some lights, it was actually only several hundred yards of the nearly 5 mile long cave where we could see anything at all. The rest of the time it was pitch black except for the pathetic amount of light that came out of our headlamp. As we cruised down the river, the walls would narrow to just a small passage, and then open into a great expansive cavern. Our driver navigated our long-tail boat through the winding labyrinth, expertly avoiding protruding rocks, shallow sandbars, and even a few short falls. Certainly one of the most unique caving experiences to be had.
And just when we least expected it, we saw the smallest sliver of light that opened up to the other side of the mountain. As we approached the shore, resourceful locals were on hand to sell us chips and sodas which we happily enjoyed before heading back through the maze and darkness.
Konglor Cave is a pretty awesome attraction. It’s a relatively new place to check out and it’s just far enough off the well-traveled tourist loop to make you feel pretty cool for getting there.