Sarawak Chamber, Borneo
Home to a selection of huge caverns, Gunung Mulu National Park in Malaysian Borneo contains the world’s largest underground cave, Sarawak Chamber. So large that a 747 passenger jet could fly into its mouth, Sarawak is a staggering 2,300 feet (700 metres) long, 1,300 feet (396 metres) wide, and around 230 feet (70 metres) high. It is also home to an estimated one million bats.
Son Doong, Vietnam
Containing several hectares of forest, including trees up to 130 feet tall (40 metres) Son Doong was first explored by scientists in 2009 and found to be the largest underground cave system in the world. With chambers extending some 2.8 miles (4.5 km) into the earth, this really is a journey to the centre of the earth.
Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico
Carlsbad Caverns National Park contains around 100 caves, the largest of which is known as The Big Room and could hold eight full-size football pitches. Carved some 250 million years ago when the whole area was a vast, inland sea, present-day explorers should anticipate some heavy going with step ladders, pool crossings and tight inter-cavern crawls.
Mammoth Cave, Kentucky, USA
Kentucky’s premier tourist destination has been welcoming visitors below ground since 1811 when Mammoth Cave was a well known local source of saltpetre, required for the production of gunpowder during the American War of Independence.
Dating back almost one million years, Holloch is the largest cave system in Europe. First discovered in 1875 by Alois Ulrich, by 1900 a complete tourist route had been built around the ‘Hell Hole’. Unfortunately major flooding by mid century meant the cave was abandoned until the end of World War II when it was rediscovered by Swiss geologist Alfred Bogli. Visiting the cave today is best done in winter when chances of flooding are less likely.
The largest of which is known as The Big Room and could hold eight full-size football pitches.
Krubera Cave, Georgia
The deepest known cave on earth, Krubera Cave is located in the Arabika Massif of the Gagrinsky Range of the Western Caucasusand is the only place on the planet where you can sit 6,562 feet (2000 metres) below the earth’s surface.
Crystal Cave, Mexico
Known as the ‘Sistine Chapel of Crystals’, Cueva de los Cristales in Chihuahua, Mexico was first exposed in 2000 when miners pumped tons of water out of the 30 by 90 foot (10 by 30 metres) cave. Exposing some of the world’s largest known, naturally formed crystals, measuring up to 36 feet (11 metres) in length, this spectacular geological arrangement is a result of millennia of high temperatures (58°C/136°F) and mineral rich water.
Majlis al Jinn, Oman
Hidden in a remote area of the Selma Plateau, at 4,528 feet (1380 metres) above sea level in Oman, the Majlis al Jinn is large enough to house the Great Pyramid of Giza within its largest chamber. Visiting this cave is demanding, even for experienced cavers, with the long abseil in from its main, pot hole entrance standing at around 525 feet (160 metres) on a single rope.
Waitomo Glowworm Caves, New Zealand
Among New Zealand’s most visited tourist attractions, opera legend, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa has performed in Waitomo’s cavernous depths. However, the real shining stars of this deep limestone shaft are the many thousands of Arachnocampa Luminosa, New Zealand’s indigenous glow worms, who call this monster cave home.
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