Choosing and Researching a Location

Nick Williams

  1. Choosing the location
    1. Decide where you want to go.
    2. Decide what you want to do when you get there.
      1. Have a fall back plan.
      2. Make sure your fellow expedition members know.
    3. If possible problems with (1), plan a contingency in advance.
  2. Basic country information: what you need
    1. Local language - both administrative and on the ground.
    2. Weather patterns - dry season/wet season - how reliable?
    3. Transport and communications (internal and external).
    4. Money/banking - how to get money into country, what currency is best.
    5. Food and supplies available locally (carbide, petrol, gas, diesel etc.).
    6. Visa requirements.
  3. Country information - where to get it
    1. High commission/embassy - tourist/immigrant info. pack.
    2. Published tourist guides (Rough Guide etc.).
    3. Maps - Listed in Parry and Perkins 'World Mapping'.
      1. Purchase from Stanfords, The Map Shop (Worcester).
      2. Mineral prospecting companies.
      3. Tactical pilotage charts.
      4. Reconnaissance (go and get them).
      5. But maps often secret.
    4. People who've been before (not necessarily cavers).
    5. Expedition Advisory Centre.
  4. Cave information - what you need
    1. Where the caves are.
    2. Where the caves are likely to be.
    3. What are the caves like.
    4. What has already been done.
    5. Who did it.
    6. What remains to be done.
  5. Sources of information - unpublished
    1. People who have been before.
      1. Talk to leaders and to followers
      2. But things change very quickly
      3. And (leaders) not always forthcoming
    2. GPF database: contact BCRA Foreign Secretary or other GPF committee members
    3. Federation Francaise de Speleologie database
    4. Host country
      1. Local cavers
      2. Universities/karst research institute
      3. Archaeology/tourism department
  6. Sources of information - published
    1. Cave atlases
      1. Middleton and Waltham 'Underground Atlas' - not much detail.
      2. Courbon and Chabert 'Great Caves of the World': includes references- French language version is better.
    2. Expedition reports/articles
      1. Find references in CTS/UIS Abstracts
      2. Copies from BCRA Library
      3. Copies from shops - Bat Products, Oldham's, Inglesport etc.
    3. Maps
      1. Sometimes have well known caves marked
      2. Need to be 1:50,000 or better to show potential properly
      3. Often inaccurate in unpopulated karst areas
    4. Libraries
      1. BCRA, Matlock
      2. National Speleological Society, Alabama
      3. Clubs (WCC, BEC, SMCC, Red Rose, NPC, Grampian, Orpheus, SWCC)
      4. Private collections

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