Madagascar 2003, Dutch Caving Expedition

Preparations of the expedition

First Aid and luggage scaling Photo weekend Training weekend Fort de Barchon Slides Wales Surveying Summer camp Map surveying Discussion meeting Beron Ry First weekend

13 - 14 June 2003

First Aid in The Tropics
All day with First Aid instructions with special attention to our expected primitive conditions: how to improvise a stretcher, plaster or splint. After all we went to Jos' home for a wonderful meal and last discussions of our preparations to the real expedition.
Maurits at the improvised stretcher Jos and Otto with head bandages

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17 - 18 May 2003

Photo weekend
Small group going for some photo shots in Trou d'Haquin, Belgium. Maurits and Otto went for the Chaveehut in Maillen. Other team members had other obligations, however during some waiting for other groups in the crowded Haquin, we suddenly met Sjoerd and Wietske, introducing a group of novices in the 'wonderful world of caving'.
Suddenly Wiets and Sjoerd showed up in the Haquin

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28 - 30 March 2003

Training weekend
Friday night in Leiden we discussed the situation. Angap (the Malagasy Nature authorities) gave us a positive mail but not a final yes.
We decide to prepare a "Plan B" in Madagascar. The isle is very big and there are many more places with caving possibilities if Tsingy won't work.
The weekend is planned that night. Saturday we will sleep in Maillen and after pick up of the UBS-key and a lift back to the apartment around 11:30 that night, the weekend couldn't go wrong anymore.
Saturday we visited Puits Aux Lampes and Sunday we tried to pass the siphon in the Haquin. The siphon was filled with pebbles though and we weren't prepared for that. So we climbed out trough the "Trompet" and enjoyed the environment and the lovely weather.

22 - 23 february 2003

Training weekend
An unpredicted attack on the participants of the expedition.
Maarten is still in Brazil for his work and Stephan had to make a difficult decision: he cannot join us on the expedition. And finally Sjoerd was stroken by flue.
Otto installing camera and flashguns for a caving picture in the Beaume St.Anne, France
However the goal of the weekend was so attractive that Jos, Wiets, Otto en Maurits went to Fort de Barchon near Liege. Speleo Limburg planned a caving tour there with many rope routes. A true caving party!
The entrance of the Fort de Barchon

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Next day was meant for a survey of the Grotte du Monceau. Due to a difficult river crossing and thanks to the nice weather we only had a glimpse of the entrance. As an alternative compass markings were made over the valley of Tilff. Lessons learned: stay away from cars, even at distances of more than 5 metres!

6 December 2002

Slide presentation of the Wales week, NL
Maarten, Marco, Wietske and Sjoerd looking at Llyn y Fan Fawr in Wales
We met in Wiets' new apartment. The group was almost complete, only Maarten couldn't manage. At full speed we looked at more than 300 photo's and some very beautiful ones. What we concluded was that picture shooting subterraneous still is very difficult.
We decided for our logo and name:

MADAGASCAR 2003 - Expédition spéléologique Néerlandaise

19 - 27 October 2002

Group week Wales, UK
Otto had planned the crossing and around 11 pm the group was complete in Zeebrugge to cross to Dover. After the boat trip we had to drive for nearly 6 hours to Penwyllt. One group visited the Book village Haye on Wye and the other group had a hike that afternoon in sunny Wales.
The hut of the South Wales Caving Club (SWCC) in Penwyllt was very crowded so that we were accomodated in the family house; an excellent choice for our purpose.
Steve Tomalin, known for his contribution with Speleo Nederland, waited for us and was our host during most of the trips. During the evenings there was plenty of time to discuss Madagascar and our expedition. The main issues:
We go! Unless the authorities tell us not to go.
Marco left the group. The tasks have been divided over the group.
We made agreements on photos sponsoring.
Maurits enjoying the Columns in the Ogof Fynnon Ddu
And of course we did 'some' caving:
  • Ogof Ffynnon Ddu 2 (Streamway) - 7hours
  • Ogof Ffynnon Ddu 1 - 6 hours
  • Agen All Wedd - 6,5 hours
  • Ogof Ffynnon Ddu 2 (Northern Delights) - 7,5 hours
  • Craig Y Ffynnon - 6,5 hours
Wietske, Maurits, Marco, Maarten, Sjoerd and Jos at the entrance of the Agen All Wedd
In between 2 hikes of more than 8 miles in the beautiful Wales countryside. On our way home we had stormy weather. Due to the bad weather Dover port was closed and we had to travel through the Chunnel to the main land. As a bonus we arrived home earlier than expected.

September 2002

Negative travels advise cancelled!

6 - 8 September 2002

Training weekend
Subject surveying. Otto and Jos organised this weekend. Jos joined the group "after mature consideration". Enthusiastic reactions from the group on his decision. Excellent spirit this weekend. Jos explained some backgrounds of GPS and the basics of surveying. We practiced surveying outside and in the Grotte de Floreffe. Sunday another day of surveying; this time in the Trou d'Haquin the big boulder choke. It was an excellent repetition for the advanced training session the following weekend.

20 - 27 July 2002

Summer camp
Wietske, Marco, Maarten, Stephan and Sjoerd went to Slovenia, together with some other members of Speleo Nederland. Not really for the expedition but some took the opportunity to get to know each other.

8 - 9 June 2002

3rd weekend Belgium
At Saturday all members were present. In the afternoon we did some map surveying and a cross-country compass exercise. A lot of ticks but for the rest everything went well; excellent sphere. In the evening we concluded that the planning is on schedule. The rest of the time we can use for fine-tuning and further preparations. Joris gave a lecture about water life and explained the working of a pump.
At Sunday we visited Galerie des Sources. We split up in 2 groups and visited "Grote Zaal", "de Ezelsrug" and the "Passage du Chef". A long and tiring day but with good spirit.

24 May 2002

Meeting Leiden
This time 10 participants. Very useful discussion in which some participants withdraw for different reasons. Level of ambition downgraded. We discussed the negative travel advise for Madagascar and adjusted timetable. Agreed to take go/no go by the end of October.

9 - 10 March 2002

2nd weekend Belgium
Again 12 participants. We started with the Beron-Ry. A tough cave. Therefore not much talking that evening. A small group had a big discussion about expectations and ambitions. The second day we did some smaller not published caves near Floreffe,

3 - 4 November 2001

1st weekend in Belgium (Group training and basic planning)
This weekend 12 participants were present. First day we did the cave La Laide Fosse. In the evening we discussed the expectations of the participants. Next day another cave Trou Ozer. Lots of rock and very special.