Whether in France, in one’s home country, or on an expedition to a faraway land, the desire to explore remains the reason why cavers cave. Certain cavers have the privilege of discovering new terrain, to be the first to set foot in uncharted territory, to map and to name the formerly unknown. Here is a video of the Wowo expedition that took place in February 2012, in the Nakanai Mountains.
For cavers, the limestone mountain ranges of the Papua region rank among the most intriguing in the world, as exploration here takes on an entirely different meaning. The unique hydrological and geological forces in the area translate to exceptionally deep and large caves. The dry chambers are amazingly beautiful, and in the more active areas roaring underground rivers provided the explorers with an incredibly athletic and committing voyage.
After spending one month in the forest, whether exploring below the sump or climbing in the upper galleries, the Wowo cave system now contains more than 20km of charted terrain and thus becomes the most extensive cave system to date in New Britain. At 660 meters deep, it is also the second deepest cave in the Papua region. The team also discovered and explored “Khou,” a 423 meter deep cave, as well as numerous other galleries. The resurgences at the bottom of the gorge that took days to reach proved impenetrable. In the end the team, led by Jean-Paul Sounier and made up of eleven other French and Swiss cavers, discovered almost 11km of new galleries in the Matali cave area, furthering our knowledge and understanding of this fantastic cave system.
The topo for the Wowo cave system is up to date, with almost 20km of galleries dropping 620m below the surface, and two major potential continuations that are sure to provide wonderful new terrain to explore.
[See the topo of the Wowo network]
New products for caving
For more information
- The expedition blog
- Phil Bence’s trip report and photos from the expedition
- All products and techniques for caving
- Phil Bence’s full profile (interview, photos, videos, news)
- The French Caving Federation (FFS) website
- A film produced by Kraf Prod