Konglor Cave temporary closure after heavy rains

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - Visitors to popular tourist site of Konglor cave in Khounkham district of Khammuan province will have to wait for waters to fall before entering the famous river cavern after a temporary closure was announced following a short-term rise in the level of water near the mouth of the cave as a result of heavy rains.

The temporary closure of the cave was primarily a precautionary safety measure of management who deemed it would be risky to allow visitors to go inside considering the high level of water, Konglor-Natan Eco-tourism Association president Mr Saly Thongsavanh told Vientiane Times yesterday.

"However, we only close the cave temporally, and we expect to re-open in a day or so if the rain stops.”

It is the first time this year to declare a temporary closure to the famous site.

"Typically we will inform the public of temporary closure of the cave on several occasions during the rainy season as the precipitation leads the water level to change rise and fall continuously.

“On this occasion, the water level has increased sufficiently to engage our risk prevention response," he said.

"From July to September of the year, we sometimes inform the public of temporary closure to the cave, but a closure typically doesn't last more than five days at a time.

"Sometimes we can re-open within a day of closing so it will depend mostly on rainfall."

He explained that the cave had appropriate safety measures in place.

The cave is readily passable from one end to the other.

Authorities are stationed at the cave entrance in Konglor village and exit in Nantan village to check the water levels on both sides regularly.

Meanwhile, inside the cave sees a natural chamber permitting access to the top of the mountain from inside.

As such, it was very safe to visit the cave with many beautiful and safe areas inside to visit, he said.

The cave is about 7.5 km in length and 80 metres to 100 metres wide.

It is 10km from the mouth of the cave to the port of disembarkation in Natan village.

"Our cave is very safe because we know our cave well.

This makes the case very different from that of the Tham Luang Nang Non cave in Mae Sai district of Chiang Rai province of Thailand where the 12 boys and their assistant coach entered to the cave on June 23 and were trapped after monsoon rains flooded the cave and blocked their way out.

"Moreover, the boat operators are experienced, and people can safely visit the cave and see its striking interior during either the dry or the rainy seasons."

There are more than 80 boats to service the site, he said.

He said the number of tourist arrivals had increased this year.

The number of tourists was over 19,000 last year.

The number of visits in the first half of the year alone reached over 20,000 because of more advertisements, Visit Laos Year 2018 campaign and improved road conditions.

Meanwhile, the Thakhek Loop was also good for promoting the cave.

The Loop is a 450-km circular route passing through Borikhamxay and Khammuan provinces in central Laos and featuring an abundance of scenic and other attractions.

The route is becoming increasingly popular among tourists looking for adventure amid a stunning landscape.

The Loop has been on travellers’ itineraries since 2006 but became more well known after 2013 when it received support from New Zealand.

"However, we still face a problem of the bridge to cross Hai river in Nakham village of our district.

“It is currently old and cannot carry heavy vehicles like before," Mr Saly said 

So, only van and pick-up trucks are permitted to pass over the river using the stricken span.

A bus with seats from 25 up cannot be permitted to cross the bridge and visitors must use a minivan or local transport to travel on to visit the cave."

Besides visits to the cave itself, the area also has activities such as trekking, kayaking and cycling.

You can explore the lifestyle of the local people as well as experience agricultural activities.

Konglor village has more than 32 home-stays, one hotel and more than ten guesthouses serving visitors.

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