The group, formed by 12 Italians, one British and six Burmese researchers from the University of Yangon, worked from the 7th to 23rd February trying to thoroughly study karst areas around the town of Kalaw. Despite time and logistical problems, results were far better than we had expected.
Divided in two groups, we carried out preliminary explorations in an area of approximately 1500 km2. We built the study on numerous indications of caves and on morphological features of the area acquired from maps and satellite images. In particular, two areas required more detailed investigation.
The first one is located west of the town of Kalaw. It extends for some tens of km2 and it is largely characterised by vast depressions, with lake deposits mainly formed by limestone pebbles. Despite its lithological features, karst topography is rather evident in this area, in particular some caves were discovered and explored, one of which develops for 700m. Also near Kalaw several historical and archaeological explorations were carried out in caves that were used in the past as places of worship, as proved by the presence of numerous ancient statues of the Buddha.
Other interesting hollows have been discovered near Kalaw, particularly a ground water ponor-emergence system extending for several kilometres.
Around 70 km south of Kalaw and west of the town of Pinlaung we discovered a vast karst area with various blind valleys and large ponors, amongst which a giant one that we had observed the previous year from the aeroplane. All are clearly visible on the maps. The area is not easy to access and therefore it was necessary to place the base camp in a remote mountain village that can only be reached with a 5 hour trip, using carts pulled by buffaloes. Within 8 days various caves were explored which all seem to belong to a large karst system. The karst area, covering around 200 km2, presents many other ponors and guarantees many surprises to come.
Overall, in the explored areas, we discovered 20 caves, of which only one third were explored and developed for a total of 4 km. At the same time other investigations were carried out mainly of a geological, hydro-geological and biological nature, gathering numerous animal species that are currently being identified.