I Want To Go To There: This Cave Is So Big It Has Its Own Climate
Nestled beneath Vietnam’s Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park is the Sơn Đoòng Cave, the largest in the world. Sơn Đoòng was discovered in just 1990 and has developed its own climate, complete with rain clouds. When area farmer Ho Khanh first came across the cave all those years ago, it was like a scene from a movie — as he was walking through the forest in the park, the ground opened and threatened to swallow him up. As he held on tight to avoid falling into the newfound hole beneath him, he looked down and realized he was facing an entrance to the cave. Cavers first explored Sơn Đoòng in 2009, discovering that it’s five times larger than what was previously thought to be the biggest cave in Vietnam — and that the cave’s interior is gorgeous beyond compare, with a flowing river and lush greenery. Collapses in areas of the cave’s limestone ceiling created sunny skylights, and some of the highest stalagmites in the world tower in the cave’s depths.
It’s believed to have formed 2-5 million years ago, and went unnoticed all that time, which is pretty amazing. What else is out there we haven’t yet discovered? With climate change and pollution altering our planet so quickly, it’s nice to imagine that there are still pristine pockets of nature in the world that have yet to be found. While they may be just as threatened by human behavior as any other piece of land, they’re untouched, and that’s a comforting thing. The cave received its first commercial visitors in 2013, when a group of tourists took a guided tour for a steep $3,000 each. Maybe they’ll start making Groupons or something for exploring remote natural wonders? See more pictures of the cave’s stunning interior here.
[Image via Flickr]