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Caving expedition to Papua New Guinea

April 27 2016


In February 2015, a dozen French cavers set off on a caving expedition adventure to Papua New Guinea's Nakanai Mountains to explore uncharted terrain. With knowledge that along the coast the Wara Kalap resurgence flows at 5 cubic meters per second, the expedition team started searching for other resurgences. After finding a few outlets, they calculated the overall volume of water surging out of the Nakanai Mountains to be 20 cubic meters per second. This incredible flow pushed the group of cavers to continue their adventure for several weeks deep into the primary rain forest in an attempt to find Wara Kalap's collection basin.

Weeks go by and life at base camp becomes ever more grueling

A first base camp was set up at 400 meters elevation. After two weeks of searching difficult terrain without any tangible result, the team decided to move to the top of the range, at 1000 meters elevation, to continue their search. The constant rain made for an extremely wet and humid environment, and it became increasingly difficult to stay clean and healthy. Fungal infections began to flourish, cuts became infected, insect bites proliferated; all this on top of certain tropical illnesses that a few individuals unfortunately caught. The team had to stick together and stay mentally strong to face the tough conditions in the rain forest and to achieve their ultimate objective: finding the collection basin.

Discovering Wara Kalap's collection basin

Following several long days of forays into the deep, the cavers came upon several shafts, including two with powerful air currents. Hope was restored and the team explored both promising entrances from top to bottom. Finally, the cave named Philip Pato led our cavers straight to their goal, the Wara Kalap collection basin located 600 meters underground. This discovery allowed them to finish their expedition on a high note since it occurred during the last week of the trip. Our team of cavers returned to France sick but happy to have explored Philip Pato cave, which is now one of the deepest known caves in Papua New Guinea.