Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003, the remarkable Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park contains the oldest karst mountains in Asia, formed approximately 400 million years ago. Riddled with hundreds of cave systems – many of extraordinary scale and length – and spectacular underground rivers, Phong Nha is a speleogists’ heaven on earth.
In 1990, a local man named Ho Khanh discovered Hang Song Doong cave, located in the Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park. Twenty years later, with the support of the British Cave Research Associal (BCRA) team members, this cave was explored, and considered to be the largest in the world. This discovery helped to encourage the growth of tourism, and with it, the lives of the local people have also improved. Previous to this, locals had little opportunity to earn a decent living. Their only source of income was from the treasures they claimed from the jungle.
In 2011, with the continued support from the BCRA members, our travel partner, Oxalis Adventures was founded. As an adventure tour operator, Oxalis was given exclusive permission to run tours in the park. Since its establishment, Oxalis has worked tirelessly to help improve life for the local people. By creating secure jobs, the locals no longer need to hunt in the jungle. They now have better housing, better education, better health, and a brighter future for their families.
Oxalis strives to make a positive impact by focusing their efforts on economical sustainability as well as environmental conservation and community involvement. They play a crucial role in providing better educational opportunities for the local children by offering scholarships and help with the school and building of a new library. They also encourage increased environmental awareness, which involves organizing clean-up efforts, especially along the river, to help prepare for the extremes of the wet season.
No longer are these people reliant on the unpredictable nature of the agriculture industry. They now form part of a community that offers amazing experiences to the world traveler.