sign in a cave in Laos

27 February 2014

Madagui boulder caves, Lam Dong, Vietnam

During our caving trip in Dong Nai province, we took a day off to have a look at the boulder caves at Madagui (Ma Da Gui, Mada Gui). It is north of Than Phu on the main road to Da Lat, just in Lam Dong province. It is called a 'Forest City' and has lots of attractions, such as 'sky tracking', crocodile lake, fruit orchard, animal park, etc.

Our interest was the boulder caves. There are 5 set up for tourists, although one is currently closed.

Entrance fee to the park is 40,000 dong (US$2). We travelled around in one of the safari jeeps.

The roads are stone cobbles giving a very bumpy ride. We crossed the big lake and headed for the first cave, Hang Tien. Wooden steps led down into the cave, which like all the others, is basically a path between a maze of giant boulders.

All the caves are a labyrinth of enormous, massive boulders, with large gaps between them forming caves.

The granite is interesting, quite granular/gritty, with lots of holes from erosion, and also some holes which look like geode holes.

The next cave was Hang Thay, The Master's Cave. All the caves have information boards in Vietnamese and English telling of stories and legends associated with them.

A nice tree outside the cave.

The cave has a small stream inside, even though it is dry season.

The next cave is Hang Than Nui, Yang Ndu Cave. It is very close to, or almost part of, Hang Thay. There is a statue, which may be of the hermit

Some of the granite boulders have split.

A piece of the bottom has come off - 

Wooden stairs are in place where necessary

The next cave is called Thien Phuc Son Dong, or Heaven Blessing Cave. There are lots of carved rocks in this area, representing animal heads, which represent the blessings.

 There are elephants, bats, buffalo, lion, tiger, bear, dragon, unicorn, tortoise and phoenix
  I particularly liked these bat carvings. The flock of bats guide visitors to the cave.
Hang Doi, or Bat Grotto. There are no longer any live bats here.

We then decided to walk along the forest trail to another cave.

Hang Tu Than, or The Cave of Death has a small stream and some fauna


An interesting place. Not the same as limestone caves, but the giant boulders create caves that are fun to explore!
In June 2014 I had an article published in the Malaysian paper The Star , on Madagui.

© Liz Price
No reproduction without permission

26 February 2014

Cave fauna in lava tubes in Vietnam

The lava tubes we explored in south Vietnam are quite rich in cave fauna, mainly invertebrates. We were based in Than Phu, in Dong Nai province, about 125 km northeast of Ho Chi Minh City in south Vietnam. We were there in February which is the dry season and the whole area was incredibly dry.

We saw very little fauna above ground, just the occasional lizard. There was far more life underground, in the cooler and damper lava tubes. However the tubes are quite warm compared to limestone caves.

There was no water in any of the tubes we visited, though some had damp mud. Many had roots coming in through the ceiling and walls.

There were surprisingly few bats in these lava tubes, though there was evidence that they had been hunted, as there were many wooden poles and nets lying around in various caves.

We saw a variety of invertebrates.
Spiders were always noticeable by their eye shine in our lights. In many caves they were throughout the cave, but in the longest cave they were only seen near the entrance. They are Sparassidae: Heteropodinae (thanks to Peter Jaeger for the ID) -

Web spiders were far fewer in numbers.

I saw 2 types of cricket -

They are probably Rhaphidophoridae , Subfamily Aemodogryllinae .

I only saw a couple of long legged centipedes. They are a different colour from those in Malaysia.
This one was climbing up tree roots -

Whip spiders were particularly common -
One was identified by Michael Seiter as Phrynichus orientalis.

This was a dead one being eaten by millipedes -

 And another live one -

There were also whip scorpions (Uropygi) -

Millipedes were only seen in 2 caves.
Jean-Jacques Geoffroy (France) identified them as belonging to the family Cambalopsidae. The genus could be Glyphiulus or Plusioglyphiulus (or even Trachyiulus or Hypocambala).

Cockroaches were only seen in one cave. That cave was close to houses so they could have come from there. They are Periplaneta Americana

There were surprisingly few frog species. These tiny little guys - Micryletta inornata - were cute and quick to hop away from the camera  -

 This larger one - Polypedates leucomystax - was close to an entrance (thanks to Lee Grismer for frog ID) -

I was looking for scorpions but saw none. The only ones we came across were these large ones found when digging open a cave -

Some mammals use the caves. In several caves I saw rats, with white chests, Niviventer spp. .
I'm think this is one as well -

This might be a rat -

This skull may be a dog

Porcupine also use the caves and the locals put traps at the entrances to catch them. This is a quill -
These droppings could be from porcupine -

A pile of droppings covered in fungus, note the polished rock above the droppings-

In one cave the locals collected the porcupine droppings to use as fertilizer.

Bats were less numerous than expected. All were insect eating bats. As there were signs of the locals trapping them in nets, maybe that accounts for less bats than a year ago when some of the cavers visited (at the same time of the year). Surprisingly the most bats seemed to be in a cave with very bad air. This cave was also particularly warm. And at the entrance we saw quite a few dead bats, Pomona Roundleaf Bat (Hipposideros pomona) -

There are 6 bats flying in this photo -

Surprisingly I only saw 1 gecko in the caves , Cyrtodactylus -

See more on the lava tubes :

Part 1 Gia Ray area

Part 2 Than Phu area

Shapes of lava tubes

© Liz Price
No reproduction without permission