Deep in the heart of Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park in Vietnam is a cave of mythic proportions. Its combination of high walls, beautiful rock formations and different environments make it a sight worth a look.
A Vietnamese man Ho Khanh discovered it in 1991 and named it Hang Son Doong (Mountain River Cave in Vietnamese). However, it was so steep locals for locals to enter so Son Doong as it's also called was not explored. It was in 2009 when explorers finally went in.
The first expedition didn't make it all the way in from a massive wall blocking the descent. Given the name The Great Wall of Vietnam, it's a 200-foot wall of muddy calcite. They had to come back a year later with special equipment to climb the wall.
To get a good idea of the size we're talking about when we're saying "world's largest", it's around five miles long, 500 feet wide and 650 feet high. For scale, Niagara Falls is one-third that size. A city block from Manhattan can fit in – 40-feet skyscrapers included
The limestone geology of the caves in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park is ancient – 450 million years – but Son Doong is pretty young for its age . It's around 2-3 million years old after eons of water erosion.
9. Water And Stone Are Important In Son Doong's Creation
Limestone and water is the perfect combination for cave-making. When monsoons occur the increased water in the rivers push into the rivers so hard they carve out massive caves and create ponds. The ponds can become as deep as 300 feet.
With new technology, we can appreciate the scope of Son Doong in different ways. This overhead shot was taken by a drone flying over the cave entrance and sinkholes. Notice how the explorers underneath look like ants compared to the size rock formations and paths.
11. What Was Once Inaccessible Is Now Available To The Public
Son Doong is a treasure trove for scientists. Many brave the darkness so they can find new discoveries within its massive depths. biologists want to know what the flora and fauna are like in the world's largest cave. Geologists want to know the mystery of the cave, and how the underground river created it.
14. A Future In Peril For The World's Largest Cave