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The Magic of Cave Lodge – Soppong, Thailand

November 17, 2015

Shhh, if you listen closely you might just hear them. The sun is fading behind the mountains and people are starting to arrive back from the swift show and no I definitely do not mean Taylor Swift, as the common areas are beginning to fill with people ready for an icy beer and some food, John emerges again, “Everyone if you’re quiet you will hear them” he says in his true blue Aussie tone that he surprisingly hasn’t lost after 30 plus years in the Thai jungle. I hear one girl shyly ask “hear what?”, “The gibbons of course” a young man pipes up.

As we sat eating may I say the best jungle curry I’ve ever had, we hear it! The hoots of the gibbon, although rarely sighted anymore if you are lucky you might just hear one.. This amazing scene was set for us within a couple of hours of arriving. Found in the jungle of Soppong, Pang Mapha district the lodge is owned and run by John Spies and his lovely team. Cave lodge is one of the oldest guest houses in the area and first opened its doors in 1984. You will find yourself amongst the trees, sleeping in beautiful little bungalows, the sounds of the river flowing adding to the laid-back vibe; but it’s not all about kicking back here, this place thrives on adventure.ThamLod_DrewHopperPhotography02Photo credit: Drew Hopper Photography

Whilst visiting Cave Lodge you will have a range of activities to choose from, none of which you are obliged to do. The kayaking tour is fantastic, we enjoyed every minute of it (even when we argued over how to paddle, steer and get off the rock we got stuck on), we had so many laughs, especially when we met a group of young kids swimming and jumping from the rocks who decided it would be great fun to bombard our kayak (this is the part that I mention that pretty much all of them were having a nudie swim haha) and to Drew’s ill-timing he copped a willy to the face as he turned around (now if this can’t break the ice after an argument nothing will!), this, lets call it an incident, had me, the other kayakers and children in howls of laughter. That aside the scenery is epic, you paddle yourself through Tam Lod Cave and do a fantastic little run of small rapids, finishing with a slide down a causeway to where the truck is waiting to pick you up. We would definitely recommend this tour, great fun, great team work (most of the time) and a beautiful way to see some of the areas. We did the 2-5 hour trip (from memory ours went for about 3 hours and was more than enough, turns out it is super tiring work) and this set us back about 650 Bhatt/$25 AUD per person.

ThamLod_DrewHopperPhotography01Photo credit: Drew Hopper Photography

Take the classic Tham Lod Cave tour, this tour is run by the locals and only costs 100 Baht, a lot of the locals also sell fish food for a small fee, the beautiful woman we bought ours from had a severely disabled son, she was so polite and never begged, just sat with everyone else and got on with it. We decided to buy one small bag of food but paid for the price of ten, we didn’t make a big deal out of it as we could tell that’s the way she liked it but I when I said it was to help her with her son she looked like she was going to leap into my arms, she was ever so grateful for what to us was only a few dollars. If you see her and you can afford it, chuck a few extra dollars her way, the smile you receive will totally pay for it J Getting on with where I was… your guide will light a hurricane lamp and walk you down to the entrance of the Lod where you board your bamboo raft (and yes you will question if it will sink, it doesn’t and is surprisingly stable) he/she will guide you through the cave on your raft stopping at each of the caverns to show you what I’m assuming might interest some tourists like the “Crocodile shaped stalactite”, which if you squinted and cocked your head slightly you may be able to make it out. It’s a fun little tour and some of the ancient caskets are just incredible to see.MaeHongSon_DrewHopperPhotography01Photo credit: Drew Hopper Photography

Another cool activity whether you are a morning person or not is doing the sunrise ‘tour’ it is so worth it, watching the sun slowly ascend over the mountain range whilst sipping hot coffee supplied by the friendly driver is almost indescribable. The views are superb and if you’re lucky you will have a sea of clouds beneath you that come alive with the sunlight, the best part being we shared this beautiful scene with only three other people! We really loved this it didn’t cost much and a huge plus about getting up so early is you get all of the best hot water for your morning shower!
MaeHongSon_DrewHopperPhotography02Photo credit: Drew Hopper Photography

Now back to that swift show I mentioned earlier, yes once again Taylor Swift is as far away from this show as possible. The swifts are the tiny little birds that live in the cave and every afternoon their performance is astonishing, 300 000 birds flitting through the air back to their nest in the cave for the night. It is quiet a bizarre feeling to stand bellow and watch as the thousands of birds zoom around catching bugs and going in for the night. This is only a short walk to the exit of Tham Lod taking only 5-10 mins from Cave Lodge.

ThamLod_DrewHopperPhotography04Photo credit: Drew Hopper Photography

Get out there explore the area, there is plenty of entertainment at Cave Lodge. Get a little hand-drawn map, a torch, some snacks and water and go adventuring. Crawl down little holes into magnificent caves, marvel at the magic of the endless sparkles of the stalactites and stalagmites.

The enchantment of Cave Lodge will stay with you forever, I know every time we talk about it or reminisce of the awesome time we had we can’t wipe the smile from our face. We will definitely be back to visit in the future, but for now, don’t take our word for it, adventure yourself.

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