How to Join Caving Expeditions and Go Cave Exploring All Over the World

Cave exploration opens up a whole new world. A world that most of us never get to see.

For some, this new world turns out to be so interesting that it takes over their life and turns them into full time cave explorers!

This is exactly what happened to Liz Price from the UK. She has been on many caving expeditions and explored a lot of different caves all over the world.

In this interview, Liz shares how she got into cave exploration, how she prepares her expeditions, her best tips for surviving cave exploration, her favorite expeditions, and much more!

Caver Liz Price
Liz using ropes in a river cave

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Hello. My name is Liz Price. I’m from England and I have always had a love of the outdoors and nature. I have been to caves in many countries of the world, over 5 continents. Many of those trips were expeditions.

I quit my job in England to travel and went through Europe to SE Asia and on to Australasia. I visited caves whenever possible. Instead of going back to the UK, I ended up staying in Malaysia. I then developed a great interest in tropical caves and in particular Biospeleology, which is the study of cave creatures.

I spent a lot of time researching and documenting caves in Malaysia, and published various books and very many papers on caves in Malaysia and SE Asia.

I have also been involved in cave conservation and trying to save some caves from being quarried away. There is a huge demand internationally for cement and limestone.

Caver Liz Price
Cave in Laos

How and why did you get into cave exploration?

I took up caving when I went to university in England. I had to be persuaded to go on the first caving trip as it was something I never wanted to do, as I considered it dangerous and stupid! People lent me the equipment and off we went. I had mixed feelings after the first trip and was persuaded to give it another go – and after the second time I was hooked and have been caving ever since. It has taken over my life!

There is a vast difference between caves in temperate countries such as the UK and those in tropical countries. In the temperate places the caves are often cold, vertical and ‘small’ and you have to wear specialised clothing in order to keep warm and to give you protection as you are often crawling and squeezing through the rocky passages. Tropical caves are the opposite, they often have huge sized chambers, are hot and humid and in many caves you can just walk through. As I have been caving in the tropics for a long time I have got used to wearing just shorts and t-shirt, which are adequate unless you are in water caves for a lengthy period. In caves in UK, you are lucky to see one or two spiders or other invertebrates at the cave entrance, whereas tropical caves are often full of animal inhabitants.

Caver Liz Price
Liz holding a spider that is only found in one cave in Malaysia – Copy

What have been the best and most difficult parts of your cave explorations?

One of the nicest things about caving is to find a new cave and knowing that no one else has ever been there. It is rather special to know that we are the first humans to have ever entered that cave. There are very few places on the earth’s surface where this is still possible nowadays. I have been lucky and explored quite a few new caves, especially during caving expeditions.

Fortunately, I’ve never had a serious accident or incident whilst caving. Caving is potentially a very dangerous activity, so you take preparations to keep safe. It is an activity you should never do alone, always go as a group and let someone know where you are going so they can raise the alarm if you don’t return!

Caver Liz Price
Cave cascades

What has been your favorite cave and expedition so far?

People often ask which is my favourite cave, but that is impossible to answer. I have been into so many caves and each one is different. Each one has its own charm and character. And I don’t get tired of revisiting the same cave because on each visit you see something different or it’s just simply a different experience.

I joined many international expeditions, especially in Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. One of my most memorable expeditions was to Madagascar. It sticks in my mind not because of the caves but due to the adventures we had getting to the caves – too many to mention here. Caving in remote areas is always special as we get to meet the locals and get to experience their way of life, sometimes even staying in remote villages. Many can’t understand why we are looking for caves and assume we are after buried treasure or gold deposits!

Caver Liz Price
Surveying in a cave in Vietnam

What is your best advice for new cave explorers?

Caving is best learnt by simply doing it, preferably with experienced cavers to guide you. To begin, you don’t need any special equipment but as you progress you will need special clothing, obviously a good light and helmet, and later perhaps ropes and climbing equipment – all depending on locality and types of caves you will be visiting.

Once you’ve got the equipment, caving is quite a cheap sport. The biggest expense then is the travelling costs to get to the caves, whether it is petrol money to explore a local area or air fares to fly around the world.

What is your favorite gear?

I don’t have any favourite gear. I just buy whatever is most suitable and generally it lasts a long time. Over the years, caving lights have improved tremendously and although you can buy cheap ones, really good ones cost as much as $500.

How do you finance your cave explorations?

Expeditions are all self funded. Some big international expeditions may get some grants from sponsors, etc., but the ones I have been on we pay for everything ourselves. In some countries, we cooperate with local governments and tourist offices and have to do reports, etc., for them, and we even cover the costs of any of their staff who join the expedition.

Caver Liz Price
Liz with locals in Laos.

What inspired you to write your books?

When living in Malaysia and exploring and documenting the caves, I started a database of the caves and also kept a record of all the references relating to Malaysian caves. After a while I had so much information I decided to publish this info in two books: “Caves and Karst of Peninsular Malaysia. A Registry” and “Malaysian Cave Bibliography“. The registry lists all the caves I know about in Peninsular Malaysia, with location and a very brief description. The bibliography lists all the references I have found that relate to any aspect of Malaysian caves, with records starting in the 19th century. Both books have been reprinted over the years. They are intended for anyone with an interest in Malaysian caves. The bibliography is more useful to researchers as it covers all types of cave fauna and flora. It was quite easy writing the books as I had been accumulating the information over many years.

I have also co-authored books, such as the “Atlas of Great Caves and Karst of SE Asia” and helped with expedition reports. Also, I have written hundreds of articles for Malaysian and international publications.

The books can be ordered from me or from the publisher BHB.

Caver Liz Price
Liz – eye to eye with a cave racer

What will the future bring?

I don’t have any plans for future expeditions at the moment, but caving will always be in my blood. When I am not physically caving, there is always ‘armchair caving’ where I spend a lot of time doing cave related things on the Internet.

Follow Liz Price on her Malaysian cave website and blog on SE Asia caves

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