The world is full with mesmerizing places. How about taking a journey beneath the Earth surface? Dark, deep and hauntingly beautiful, these underground gems can be found in all corners of the world. Enter the amazing world of caves. They are all simply incredible.
Cave of the Ghost, Venezuela
“Cueva del Fantasma” — Spanish for “Cave of the Ghost” — is so vast that two helicopters can comfortably fly into it and land next to a towering waterfall. A waterfall coming down from one wall forms a small pond at the floor. Researchers recently discovered a new dendrobatid frog species, Colostethus breweri, named for the frog’s identifier, Charles Brewer-Carías.
Mammoth Cave – Kentucky, USA
Part of the US National Park in central Kentucky, the Mammoth Cave has the longest cave system in the world called the Mammoth-Flint Ridge Cave System with over 365 miles of subterranean passageways. Established as a national park on July 1, 1941, it also became a UNESCO World Heritage Site (1981) and an International Biosphere Reserve (1990). Other spectacular sights to see include the giant sinkhole aptly named ‘Cedar Sink,’ and the ‘Frozen Niagara.’
Phong Nha Cave – Minh Hoa, Vietnam
The Phong Nha Cave, which is a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, is located in the Minh Hoa districts in north-central Vietnam, about 500 km south of Hanoi. The national park was created to protect its over 300 caves and grottoes, aside from the ecosystem and the limestone forest of the Annamite Range. Out of the 300 Phong Nha caves, only 20 of those have been surveyed by scientists. With a total length of 126 km, it held several records including the longest underground river and the largest caverns and passageways before the discovery of Son Doong Cave.
Cave of the Swallows – Aquismon, Mexico
An open airpit cave situated at the Municipality of Aquismon in Mexico, it has freefall drop of 333 m from the floor of the cave to the lowest side of the opening, with 370 m drop from the highest side. The 2nd deepest pit in Mexico and the 11th in the world, a skyscraper like the NYC Chrysler Building could easily fit. The cave has low temperatures with thick vegetation at the mouth and rains can cause waterfalls to cascade into its opening. Aside from the layers of debris and guano, you can also find a sinkhole in a fault of the lower Cretaceous limestone, which can go down further to 512 m.
Elephanta Caves, Gharapuri Island, India
Carved out of a hillside in the fifth century, the ecstatic faces and swaying bodies of Hindu deities in the temples of the Elephanta Caves seem to be listening to the drone of ancient Indian instruments. The sinuous curves of the Siva Nataraja, or many-armed cosmic dancer, and the three faces of the Trimurti, representing the creator, preserver, and destroyer aspects of the god Siva, are as expressive today as centuries ago.
Fingal’s Cave, Scotland
This cave is formed from hexagonally jointed basalt columns with in a Paleocene lava flow. It is known for its naturally arched roof, which produces eerie sound made by the echoes of the waves to give an atmosphere of a cathedral.
Jeita Grotto Cave, Lebanon
The cave consists of two separate but interconnected limestone caves. Upper grotto and lower grotto. The upper grotto houses the world’s biggest stalactite (mineral deposit that hangs from the ceiling of a limestone cave). The lower grotto (20,300 feet overall length) is traversed by underwater lake and river.
Majlis al Jinn Cave, Oman
Majlis al Jinn is the second largest cave chamber in the world. It is located in a remote area of the Selma Plateau at around 1,600 meters altitude in The Sultanate of Oman. It was discovered in 1983 by Don Davidson, a geologist studying water resources in the Sultanate. Davidson presumably died some ten years later when he left Oman permanently and went hiking in the Andes. He rented a car, drove it to a trailhead, left a note on it saying where he was going, and was never seen again.
Waitomo Glowworm Cave, New Zealand
The Waitomo Glowworm Cave is a cave on the North Island of New Zealand, known for its population of glowworms, Arachnocampa luminosa. These glowworms spin a nest out of silk on the ceiling of the cave and then hang down. Then, the larva glows to attract prey into its threads, so that the roof of a cave is covered with larva can look remarkably like the heavens at night. A hungry larva glows brighter than one which has just eaten.
Dongzhong Cave, China
Not actually a fascinating cave in itself, until you consider dozens of children attend everyday to the school on it! The Dongzhong (literally meaning “in cave”) is a primary school at a Miao village in Ziyun county, southwest China’s Guizhou province. The school is built in a huge, aircraft hangar-sized natural cave, carved out of a mountain over thousands of years by wind, water and seismic shifts.