Northern Lao - European
Cave Project 

Laos 2014 Expedition

Expedition Laos:  2. - 24. January 2014

EuroSpeleo FSE
Houphan Team:

  Michael Laumanns (coordinator), Carsten Ebenau, Helmut  Steiner

    Yulia Chistyakova, Irina Ermakova

   Jean-Pierre Bartholeyns , Marc Vandermeulen

   Leda Zogbi

Phon Thong Team   Terry Bolger, Matt Oliphant, Nancy Pistole, Angela Morgan, Page Ashwell

The expedition 2014 continued with the successful strategy to form independent teams in order to target more areas simultaneously.

One of the teams (the US team) explored a new karst area in the Luang Prabang province along the road to Dien Bien Phu near the Vietnamese border while the second team (international team) again visited Houaphan province in the extreme north-east of Laos.

The US team spent its first two weeks in Naluang and Ban Na Son villages, Phon Thong district (Luang Prabang province). The area was already briefly visited during the 2013 expedition of the Project but permit couldn’t be obtained at that time. In 2013 all necessary papers were prepared so that 14 caves could be explored, 12 of them were mapped with a total of 3.7 km of passages (preliminary value). The main discovery was Tham Nam Lod, a superb underground river 1.6 km in length. The trough cave is currently being prepared as a show cave by the local authorities who were in need of a cave survey according to international standards, which will be provided by the team. An additional week was spent by our US colleagues in Muang Ngoi district of Luang Prabang province, where two caves were investigated and one of them was mapped (100 m long).

The international team targeted Houaphan province in the extreme NE of Laos. Here the Northern Lao-European Cave Project started with the investigations in a new karst area north of the provincial capitol Xam Neua in 2012 and instantly long river caves were found. The purpose of the 2014 investigations was to finish off ongoing caves from the previous expeditions and to map new caves in the surroundings of other villages not visited before. Thirty-seven caves were documented with a total of 9.5 km of mapped passage (preliminary value). Longest caves explored was the through cave Tham Lom at about 2.1 km of length. Two days of reconnaissance at the end of the expedition in the area further west confirmed large karst resurgences as well as fossil caves. Thus the cave potential in the area, already now exceeding 20 km of mapped passages, is far from depleted. A follow-up visit is planned for 2015.Another cleaning-up daytrip was made by the international team to Viengxai town east of Xam Neua city. Here a number of small artificial historic bunkers as well as one natural cave were surveyed, all of which were left from previous expeditions.

In total, more than 13.3 km (preliminary) of passage from 53 caves were surveyed in northern Laos in 2014, resembling one of the best results of our expeditions ever.