The Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park , inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2003, covered 85,754 hectares. With this extension, the site covers a total surface area of 126,236 hectares (a 46 % increase) and shares a boundary with the Hin Namno Nature Reserve in the Peoples Democratic Republic of Laos. The Park’s landscape is formed by limestone plateaux and tropical forests. It features great geological diversity and offers spectacular phenomena, including a large number of caves and underground rivers. The site harbours a high level of biodiversity and many endemic species. The extension ensures a more coherent ecosystem while providing additional protection to the catchment areas that are of vital importance for the integrity of limestone landscapes.
The great system of caves
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 speleologists’ heaven on earth.
Its collection of stunning dry caves, terraced caves, towering stalagmites and glistening crystal-edged stalactites represent nature on a very grand scale indeed, and are beginning to create a real buzz in Vietnam, as more and more riches are discovered.
Serious exploration only began in the 1990s, lead by the British Cave Research Association and Hanoi University. Cavers first penetrated deep into Phong Nha Cave, one of the world’s longest systems. In 2005 Paradise Cave was discovered, and in 2009 a team found the world’s largest cave – Son Doong. Huge caverns and unknown cave networks are being discovered each year.
Fauna and flora
Above the ground, most of the mountainous 885 sq km of Photoing Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park is near-pristine tropical evergreen jungle, more than 90% of which is primary forest. It borders the biodiverse Hin Namno reserve in Laos to form an impressive, continuous slab of protected habitat. More than 100 types of mammal (including 10 species of primate, tigers, elephants, and the saola, a rare Asian antelope), 81 types of reptile and amphibian, and more than 300 varieties of bird have been logged in Phong Nha.