Application for Grant Aid

Submitted on: 27 Aug 2013


Expedition details (GPF2013b-003)

Expedition Name (& Club): Shan Plateau (Myanmar) Expedition 2014
Country: Myanmar
Region: Shan Plateau
Leader: Mr Peter Talling
Lat: 21.164859 Long: 96.444092 Elevation: m

MEF funding: none
Expedition dates: 23rd Dec 2013 - 16th Jan 2014
Duration (days): 25
Man-days in field: 18 Man-days travelling: 6
Brief Expedition objectives:

List a short summary of the main Expedition objectives.

The previous (2012-2013) expedition was highly successful, more than doubling the length of the longest known cave in Myanmar (Kyauk Khaung "Stone Cave") from 2.3 km to 4.8 km (and 148 m depth). See attached survey. A major drafting lead (Heart of Darkness) was left ongoing at the base of a > 30 m pitch, where the final pushing team ran out of rope poised above open passage. Heart of Darkness is heading towards a major depression near the village of Linwe. The 2013 expedition found two major resurgences, and a large strongly drafting sink within the Linwe depression, each more than 10 m in diameter. This opens the possibility of a major system extending from Kyauk Khaung to the Linwe Depression (~3.5 km). The Khauk Khaung water most likely resurging 4.5 or 7.5 km from where it sinks, with > 300m of elevation change. Two extremely large well decorated passages (> 50 m wide) were found near Kyauk Khaung, at a higher level, suggesting multi-level development. The two primary objectives ar
How can the GPF support your Expedition?:

Please explain the aspects of the trip which make it eligible for Ghar Parau funding.

We thank Ghar Parau for continued support for novel exploration in Myanmar. We feel that this next expedition can turn Stone Cave into a world class system that extends to the Linwe depression.
Detailed description of objectives:

Give a more detailed account of the purpose of the trip, including any particular known caves you intend to visit, specific areas where you will explore for new cave, and scientific experiments you will attempt.

We will continue to strengthen our national, regional and local contacts in order to promote wider cave exploration in future years. A key objective is to show that we can now stay at Linwe and outlying villages, which will avoid a 45 minute commute from Ywangan. Our contact (Mr Phyoe) has provided assurances that this is possible, and we did the groundwork for this option last year by contact suitable local authorities.

A major success of the previous expedition was the careful documentation and formal identification of two new species of cave adapted fish by Tim Guilford (Department of Zoology, University of Oxford) and Dr. Louise Maurice (British Geological Survey). Type examples are now being analysed in the Universities of Kunming and Oxford. Formal contact has been established with academics at the University of Mandalay, and such work with be continued in 2013-14.
Previous work in this area:

Give details of any previous work in this area by your own and other teams. Include references to reports and articles published on the area, and the names of any local cavers or academics with whom you have discussed the Expedition.

It has previously proven problematic to have access to areas in Myanmar for caving expeditions, and very few expeditions have ever visited the eastern and northern parts of the country (Laumanns, 2010). After securing access through a high-level contact in the Tourism Promotion Board, a small 3 person reconnaissance in Southern Myanmar was organised by Joerg Dreybrodt (Price, 2010). This led directly to two 3-week reconnaissance expeditions with just 4-to-6 people in 2010 and 2011, which initially explored areas to the east of Taunggyi in the Southern Shan State. The 2011 expedition also identified and made brief visits to new areas of karst in the Northern Shan State. The 2012 and 2013 expeditions have concentrated on the Ywangan area, including mapping the longest cave (Kyauk Khaung) in Myanmar. A shorter period was spent prospecting south of Lashio, in the north of Myanmar. Recent changes, such as increased freedom of press and the release of Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest, are promising for greater ease of access for cavers in the future. However, there are also concerns about unrest in relation to muslim minorities, albeit in locations away from Ywangan.
Total UK cavers: 6
Total non UK cavers: 1
Total Cavers: 7
Alex Pitcher nominations:

Expedition Finances

Travel

Travel plans:
It is not possible to fly directly from the UK to Myanmar and therefore the team travelling from the UK plan to enter the country via Thailand. Internal flights must then be taken from the International hub at Yangon to reach the Shan States via the regional airport at Heho.

Independent travel within Myanmar is possible if the itinerary is restricted to the major tourist routes. However, travel to remote and restricted areas is not possible without a guide and private transport. This is a major expense for the expedition, but as well as allowing for efficiency when travelling on poor infrastructure, the use of a guide has proved invaluable when negotiating local permissions and hence maximizing the effectiveness of the expeditions. It has also allowed us to understanding and respect local religious sites, as many caves are also temples and can be sites of pilgrimage. The expedition in 2013 will use a 4-wheel Hi-lux that can carry 7 cavers, which avoids health issues due to dust inhaled in the back of the previously used truck.

From our experience, Friday evening departure from London allows for arrival in Heho on Sunday afternoon of the third day. Overland travel to Ywangan is unlikely to be possible until the following day as we are normally only permitted to travel in daylight hours. There will then be 18 days in the field, followed by a further 3 days to travel back to the UK from Lashio


# from UK: 6 Travel costs breakdown (for personnel leaving from the UK):
Total costs from UK: £8,546 International flights: £800 per person from the UK (total £4800);
Internal flights: £110 per person (total £660)
Overland transport: £100 per day for each vehicle and guide (total £3086)

Internal flights, overland transport and accommodation are paid in US$ and are therefore subject to exchange rate fluctuations.

# from outside UK: 1 Travel costs breakdown (for personnel leaving from the UK):
Total costs from outside UK: £824 International flight: £200 per person from China
Internal flights: £110 per person
Overland transport: £100 per day for each vehicle and guide (total £514)

Travel total: £9,370 Travel p.p. from UK: £1,424
Travel p.p. from outside UK: £824

Subsistence

Total: £2,880 Comments:
Subsistence p.p.: £411 In country expenses: £20 per person per day (total £2880)

In country expenses based on average rates of foreigner licensed hotels based on previous expeditions. Provided national and local permissions are granted to stay in villages then this cost should reduce.

Gear

Total: £0 Comments:
Subsistence p.p.: £0
Exped Total: £12,250 Exped cost p.p. travelling from UK: £1,998
Exped cost p.p. travelling from outside UK: £1,171
Mean Exped cost per person: £1,880

Other Funding

Total: £0 Comments:
Total shortfall: £0 Mean shortfall per person: £0

Referees and Report

Please give the names, addresses and phone numbers of two suitably qualified people whom the Committee can contact. You should ensure that they are aware of the objectives of your trip, and that you have their permission for the Committee to contact them.

Referee 1: Mr Hilary Greaves
Affiliation:

Reason: Expedition leader to adjacent areas in Yunnan

Permission obtained?: No
Referee 2: Ms Erin Lynch
Affiliation:

Reason: 0

Permission obtained?: No

Expedition report author: