Caving is an adventure activity that is great for school trips but is often overlooked. Here, we put forward a case for considering a caving activity on your next school excursion to Khao Sok.
How many times in your life have you entered a cave?
For the majority of people, the answer is probably “not many at all” and so these dark and mysterious places can feel threatening and it is easy to understand why some teachers shy away from taking a group of children into one with them.
When caving is run by a professional and experienced guide, however, it makes a great activity. The feeling of overcoming your fears and slowly navigating your way around a millions-of-years-old wonder of nature by torchlight can be life-changing.
Some of the caves in Khao Sok are truly amazing. Underground rivers and waterfalls; walls of fossilized sea creatures; towering, sparkly rock formations and entire ecosystems dependent on the nutrition brought in from bats on their nightly hunt – the Khao Sok underground world has it all. But not every cave is beginner-friendly. Our guides definitely do not fit into the “not many times at all” camp – they have years of experience and know the specific dangers, as well as the attractions, of every cave system that we visit.
Those ecosystems; well, permanent cave dwellers have evolved to thrive in a life of complete darkness and can possess quirky adaptations such as lacking all pigmentation or having no usable eyes at all. Some cave systems are home to unique species as life has been evolving for so long with little contact with the outside world.
The rocks in caves also tell a story. Students always enjoy trying to pick out stalagmites, columns, and flowstone, and I am always impressed by how attentive they are when listening to the explanation of how they form. It makes me wonder whether human beings have some sort of inherent fascination with caves.
Caves also provide evidence of geological events on a much larger scale, such as tectonic shift, the formation of mountains, and the changing of sea levels. Khao Sok is certainly no exception as it used to be part of a giant coral reef, proving that the caves and cliffs – measuring up to a thousand meters tall – used to be underwater. Evidence of this can be found in the form of those fossils just mentioned.
The Khao Sok region is even home to ancient cave paintings and leftover artifacts from a cave school used by communists in hiding, pointing to the human history of this area.
As well as being a catalyst for overcoming personal challenges, there is plenty of juicy knowledge to be gained from visiting a cave. The visual and experiential nature of the activity is strengthened by the lack of external distractions. This is one reason that caves actually make an ideal teaching environment.
All of the features mentioned can often be found within only a few minutes’ walk from cave entrances. Crawling through tunnels and clambering over rocks is fun but not an essential component of cave exploration. An experienced cave guide will be able to choose and facilitate a route that has the right balance of adventure, fun, and education for the group of students that are to visit.
With careful group management, a cave adventure can easily be the highlight of an activity week. Contact us now for a free consultation on available cave explorations in and around Khao Sok Nationalpark