10 largest caves on the planet

Review of the best according to the editors. About the selection criteria. The the material is subjective, is not advertising and is not serves as a guide to the purchase. Before purchase is needed consultation with a specialist.

Caves are truly unique. The natural voids of our planets at the same time breathtaking majesty, attract mysterious atmosphere and scare with their dark grottoes. In the world there are a great many diverse underground formations – grottoes, labyrinths, lakes. But some of them are so huge that deserve detailed consideration.

Giants of the Underworld: Top 10 Biggest Caves on the planet

Nomination a place cave name rating
Giants of the Underworld: Top 10 Biggest Caves on the planet 1 Optimistic (Ukraine) 5.0
2 Sarma (Abkhazia) 4.9
3 Krubera-Voronya (Abkhazia) 4.8
4 Sac Actun (Mexico) 4.7
5 Mamontova (USA) 4.6
6 Red (Russia) 4.5
7 Eisriesenvelt (Austria) 4.4
8 Miao (China) 4.3
9 Lubang Nasib Bagus (Malaysia) 4.2
10 Shondong (Vietnam) 4.1

Optimistic (Ukraine)

Rating: 5.0

Optimistic (Ukraine)

The longest gypsum cave in the world, located in Ternopil region, was opened relatively recently – in 1966 year. Discovered by a local hunter who was looking for a bear hole and stumbled upon the entrance to the rock. Initially, most cavers skeptical about the find, considering it a normal crack no more than a few meters deep, which is not surprising, because the entrance was narrow and nondescript.

But local experts held a different point of view, for that were jokingly nicknamed optimists. And optimism turned out to be quite nonrandom: scrupulous and persistent measurements showed that from human eyes hidden huge underground formation, which turned out to be the most impressive along the length of the maze.

Over half a century in the bowels of the Optimistic visited more than 200 expeditions that managed to explore about 223 km of winding moves and halls of a bizarre form. But it’s supposed to be much bigger length: the hidden secrets of the Optimistic Cave underground cavers to explore the whole world.

Over the years, several routes have been compiled. of varying complexity, any of which is accessible to tourists. Natural Education will delight with its unique attractions: incredible halls, beautiful arches, many underground rivers

As you study the cave, the number of base camps are growing rapidly. Today there are 15, and in the most remote conditions for comfortable placement 50 people. All camps are equipped with grocery provisions, stoves, large reserves of water (in the distant, a 700-liter supply is provided water), the conditions for an overnight stay and cooking hot food.

Sarma (Abkhazia)

Rating: 4.9

Sarma

One of the deepest natural formations in the world. Located in the Arabica mountains, the cave was completely open recently (in 1990), making her also one of the “youngest” speleological discoveries. Like the Optimistic Cave, Sarma on the entrance looks like an inconspicuous gap in the rock, which nonetheless attracted the attention of the Irkutsk caver due to the strong air flow inside. Hence its name – Sarma – Baikal wind.

The entrance to the cave is located at an altitude of more than 2000 meters to to get to it, you have to climb the mountains. Today about 1830 m of the depth of the cave was explored, and many cavers believe that this is not the limit. In its form, it is a series of many wells interconnected by underground galleries. The cave is considered the result of many fractures of gypsum and limestone rocks. Mountain education is so unique that invariably attracts cavers of the whole world.

After the aggravation of the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict, the cave right up to 1998 remained inaccessible to cavers. Today is A real treat for professional underground explorers. Access to the geological object is possible for those who do not have only with professional equipment, but also with special training. Exploration of Sarma by tourists is strictly prohibited.

Krubera-Voronya (Abkhazia)

Rating: 4.8

Krubera-Voronya (Abkhazia)

In the same mountain range as Sarma, there is one more not less unique mountain formation is one of the most beautiful and the deepest caves in the world – Krubera-Voronya. Initial his she received the name in honor of the founder of Russian karstology (Alexander Kruber). And the participants of subsequent expeditions added to this name is another – “Crows”.

The cave is located in the mountains, at an altitude of 2250 meters above the level seas. It is an underground subvertical formation type: many different depths of wells are interconnected manhole. After opening another entrance a little higher in 2014 first, a new depth record was officially registered: on Today this figure reaches 2199 meters.

At a depth of about 200 meters, the cave is divided into 2 branches: Nekuibyshevskaya, which goes 1700 meters deep, and the Main. The latter, in turn, is further divided into many branches. IN 8 tunnels were discovered in the depths of the cave water.

Krubera-Voronya is exclusively open professional cavers: to study it requires considerable experience, and there are simply no prepared moves for ordinary tourists here. Therefore, all the natural beauty that the cave abounds in has become accessible to the masses precisely thanks to professional expeditions to explore the cave a couple of times a year.

Sac Actun (Mexico)

Rating: 4.7

Sac

This grand underground system on the Yucatan Peninsula more than 317 kilometers long is unique: 98% of its territory flooded with water and only 2% (about 5 km) remain dry, therefore often the cave is called an underwater river. Sak-Aktun is being investigated divers. Speleological research of this underground education began back in 1987, and has since succeeded to study no more than 1% of its territories.

The water temperature in the underground river is almost completely covering numerous underground cave galleries, year-round kept at +25 0С. But the composition of water changes in depending on the depth of immersion: in the upper layers the water is fresh, and closer to the bottom it becomes salty.

The name of the cave translates as “white cave”, which is explained the characteristic color of most of the vaults of its many halls with huge stalactites. It is dominated by calcareous rock. Depth of aisles is different: the maximum figure fixed at today – 102 meters. On the surface of the earth, right above cave labyrinths are the ancient ruins of the cities of the tribe Maya and other nations.

Interesting fact: at the 43-meter depth of the cave, it was discovered several human skulls presumably from the upper Paleolithic, traces of the life of these people, animal bones, and also many ancient artifacts. Scientists suggest that Maya used cave passages to move between their buildings.

Mamontova (USA)

Rating: 4.6

Mamontova

It is considered the longest in the world. It is located in the USA (state Kentucky) in the park of the same name. It got its name, having no connection with the giants of the animal kingdom of antiquity. All the thing is the gigantic size of the cave. In the underground education system 20 huge halls and more than 220 underground manholes were discovered.

Their total length is over 587 km, but this is far from all: according to the speleologists, the size of the Mammoth Cave where more explored area. One of many branches the cave runs the river Echo 60 meters wide and in some places reaches 10 meter depth.

Today the Mammoth Cave is a must for pilgrimage many tourists. Especially for connoisseurs of similar underground 6 routes of various complexity were developed and duration (from 1 to 6 hours). Most popular route called “Frozen Niagara”.

The unique diversity of stalactites encountered among themselves amazing with beauty and incredible proportions. No less popular and travel along the Echo River: all sounds during your stay on it (whether it is a spoken word or any knock) turn into a real symphony of echoes.

Red (Russia)

Rating: 4.5

Red (Russia)

Russian Crimea surprises with its natural beauties. Over a third of it areas dotted with mountain ranges with many unique cave systems. Any of them deserves attention, but special attracts the so-called Red Cave – a huge underground system with a length of more than 25 kilometers.

It was discovered and thoroughly investigated in back in 1963 by the Soviet expedition. In addition to geological, underground formation also causes considerable archaeological interest. On its territory traces of the presence of the ancients were discovered people.

A chain of bizarre underground grottoes connected together in the form of confusing and difficult walkable maze, leaves indelible impressions. Among the many halls of the Red Cave, the most famous Blue Drop Hall is considered: its height reaches 145 meters.

True, only the first 500 m of the cave are accessible to tourists, although this enough to get an incredible caving experience. Further promotion is allowed only with special skills, and exclusively in a wetsuit – the perfect vacation for extremals.

Eisriesenvelt (Austria)

Rating: 4.4

Eisriesenvelt

A unique underground formation that stands out for its truly colossal dimensions: it is the largest ice cave in the world, all year round “living” in permafrost. Its length is 42 kilometers, the depth is more than 400 meters. IN translated from the Austrian name sounds like “World of ice giants” and it is justified: the incredible splendor of the cold From a distance, stalactites can be mistaken for real ice giants.

People suspected the existence of Eisriesenvelt for a long time, but the official opening of this icy underground system only happened in 1879, naturalist Anton von Posselt-Kzorich. And thanks to the local caver Alexander von Merck, the cave was thoroughly investigated. By the way, he was buried in one of her niches.

Interesting fact: due to intense and constant circulation the air masses the icy masses of cave halls are constantly changing their outlines.

The first excursion to Eisriesenvelt was held back in 1920 year. Today it is one of the most famous attractions. similar kind. Over 1,500 tourists each year from March to November admire the incredible beauty of the icy underground education (in winter, the cave is closed to the public, since there is a great risk of avalanches).

Miao (China)

Rating: 4.3

Miao

Opened in 1989 by the joint efforts of Chinese and European cavers can hardly be called the largest cave in the world: its length does not even reach a kilometer, and in width it does not exceed 200 meters. However, even during the discovery of the underground education researchers who stumbled upon it by chance, became it is clear that it is incredibly large.

To get to the bottom of the deepest cave well, need to spend about 2 hours. But to explore firsthand the whole underground facility is not possible, therefore its volume was investigated by laser scanning. The results were stunning: 10.78 million m3. This means that in Miao you can fit 22 football fields, 4 pyramids of Cheops or use as a convenient parking for a passenger plane Boeing 747.

Lubang Nasib Bagus (Malaysia)

Rating: 4.2

Lubang Nasib Bagus (Malaysia)

Such a complicated name for a cave, which translates very just a “cave of luck.” It is here that the largest in the main grotto (Sarawak), reaching 600 m in length, 415 in width. Its height is more than 100 meters.

An underground object was discovered by cavers by accident. Infiltrated into the cave for the first time, explorers advanced up the river, and hit the grotto, the arches of which did not reach the light of lanterns. Then it became it is immediately clear that its dimensions are enormously large. Volume of the main the grotto of natural education is 163 thousand m3, and the volume of the cave is so impressive that it makes it inaccessible to any other underground facilities: the entire underground system is 25 million. m3.

Shondong (Vietnam)

Rating: 4.1

Shondong (Vietnam)

In 1991, a Vietnamese peasant came across a lost in dense jungle entrance to the cave, but he was frightened the depths of the roar of water, and too steep descent did not allow look inside. This delayed the discovery of the largest cave in the world for 18 years: only in 2009 a group of British cavers officially confirmed the discovery of a whole underground system, going down to the depths to study it. And only in 2013 the first tourists visited the cave.

Shondong – a complex maze of 150 passages that pierce the underground rocks of limestone. All of them are connected by one huge tunnel, along the bottom of which flows a river, during the monsoon season almost completely flooding system. There is no access to the cave during this period. Width underground passages – 150 meters, and the height of some arches reaches incredible 200 meters.

Shondong is unique not only in its enormous size, but also the presence of its own microclimate. There are even clouds, and due to the presence in the giant underground cavity of several dips sunlight penetrates, stimulating the growth of many trees, the height of some reaches 3 meters. Also here even representatives of the animal world live, which is completely surprising: rhinoceros birds, monkeys, flying foxes, etc.


Attention! This rating is subjective, not advertising and does not serve as a guide to the purchase. Before the purchase consultation with a specialist is necessary.

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