Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Photos from a Day in the Jungles and Caves of Pang Mapha

Pang Mapha is a smattering of small villages in mountainous Mae Hong Son province in Northern Thailand. It is about an hour from the very popular and touristy town of Pai, but not many people make it out here, oddly enough. Truth be told, I preferred it that way.

When I traveled to Pang Mapha, things remained quiet. And freezing cold. But mostly quiet. It was the perfect place to enjoy nature pure and simple. And enjoyed nature I did.

That day, fellow travelers and I were exploring the jungles and the many caves of Pang Mapha. After all, Pang Mapha is on the tourist map of Northern Thailand precisely because of these caves. Though I am no fan of caves, caving, or spelunking, these products of nature are something else.

The largest cave system is Tham Lod, complete with park offices and rafting tours (a river runs through some parts). That did not stop us from exploring the jungle and the other caves surrounding it, of course.

Here are some photos from that day in the jungles and caves of Pang Mapha.

Mae Hong Son, Thailand
The largest and most prominent of the cave systems of Pang Mapha: Tham Lod

Caving, Pang Mapha, Mae Hong Son
Tham Lod comes with park authorities and tourist facilities. You can even go rafting in the river that goes thru the caves.

Caving, Pang Mapha, Mae Hong Son
As for us, we liked doing things independently. So off we go exploring the jungle and the caves ourselves.

Caving, Pang Mapha, Mae Hong Son
Seeing these jungles and caves can be done independently. Paths have been cleared, caves marked, and in some areas, signs erected.

Caving, Pang Mapha, Mae Hong Son
One of the jungle trails near Tham Lod led to this quiet temple hidden in the thick jungle.

Caving, Pang Mapha, Mae Hong Son
One of the less prominent caves we entered had this nondescript hole in the ground as entrance.

Caving, Pang Mapha, Mae Hong Son
But of course, limestone karst forms the stalactites and stalagmites of the cave systems here in Pang Mapha, Thailand.

Caving, Pang Mapha, Mae Hong Son
From the jungle, we found the "exit gates" of Tham Lod located downstream. One of the quietest, "pure nature" spots I've ever encountered.

Caving, Pang Mapha, Mae Hong Son
Suffice it to say, Tham Lod is cavernous.

Caving, Pang Mapha, Mae Hong Son
Strings were tied throughout many of the cave systems so that independent cavers like us can find our way back. Very easy to get lost in these holes.

Caving, Pang Mapha, Mae Hong Son
Live stalactites! See the water still dripping from the tips?

Caving, Pang Mapha, Mae Hong Son
At the end of the long, sweaty day, we witnessed the swiftlets (what we in the Philippines call 'balinsasayaw') return to the caves for the night. And so we, too, headed back.


Any other cave systems you found worth visiting/exploring?


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