Top 15 world’s most famous udeground caves

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15 Must-See Subterranean Marvels

Underground caves are one of nature’s most awe-inspiring creations. Hidden beneath the surface, these natural wonders contain breathtaking rock formations, underground rivers, and passages that seem to go on forever.

For adventurers and nature lovers, exploring underground caves is an unforgettable experience. The unique ecosystems, stunning geological features, and sense of discovery make caves a remarkable destination.

In this article, we will take you on a journey through 15 of the world’s most famous underground caves. From massive caverns to cave systems with hundreds of miles of tunnels, these natural marvels will leave you speechless.

Grab your helmet, headlamp, and sense of adventure. It’s time to descend into the depths of the earth to uncover some of the most stunning subterranean landscapes you’ll ever see!

1. Mammoth Cave National Park – Kentucky, USA

The world’s longest known cave system is located in the heart of Kentucky. Mammoth Cave National Park contains over 400 miles of surveyed passages twisting through five levels of limestone.

This natural wonder has drawn visitors for centuries, starting with Native Americans who mined the caves for minerals. Early adventurers also started commercial tours here in the 1800s.

Today, visitors can take ranger-guided tours along the historic corridors. Options range from easy walks to strenuous multi-hour treks.

Highlights include the Snowball Room filled with glistening white cave formations. The caves also contain underground rivers and unique fauna adapted to the complete darkness. With so many miles left to explore, you never know what you may discover in Mammoth Cave.

2. Carlsbad Caverns National Park – New Mexico, USA

Descend 750 feet underground into the incredible Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Located in the Guadalupe Mountains of New Mexico, this cave system was carved over millions of years by sulfuric acid dissolving the surrounding limestone.

The natural entrance to the caverns looks like a giant hole punched into the earth. From inside, you can gaze upward at the opening hundreds of feet overhead.

One of the top attractions is the Big Room, which is over 4,000 feet long and 255 feet high. It is the third largest chamber in North America. Visitors are awed by the diversity of cave formations like drapery, soda straws, and stalactites.

Another highlight is seeing over 300,000 Mexican Free-tailed Bats exit the caves at dusk during summer months. Their synchronized spiral upward flight is an impressive sight.

3. Waitomo Glowworm Caves – North Island, New Zealand

Imagine floating in silent darkness surrounded by thousands of tiny blue lights. This magical experience happens on the Waitomo Glowworm Caves tour in New Zealand’s North Island.

The glowworms are unique insect larvae that emit an eerie glow to attract prey into their sticky webs. Deep inside the Waitomo cave system, you can marvel at the sparkling blue light display as you drift by on a quiet boat ride.

The acoustics of the limestone caves are also incredible. Your guide may sing a song or play guitar to demonstrate how sound resonates in the natural amphitheater.

Beyond the main glowworm cavern, more adventurous tours explore deeper into the cave system through tight tunnels and underground rivers. This system has been carved by the Waitomo River for over 30 million years.

4. Reed Flute Cave – Guilin, China

Inside this fairy-tale cave in Guilin, colorful stalactites and stalagmites shine like crystals. Reed Flute Cave gets its name from the green reeds that grow near the entrance, which people used to make into flutes.

Reed Flute Cave has been a popular attraction in China for over 1200 years, especially during the summer when temperatures can exceed 100°F. The natural air conditioning inside always stays around 60°F.

Throughout the cave, multicolored lights illuminate natural formations that resemble lions, birds, flowers, and more. This 240-meter-long cave system also contains dozens of stone inscriptions and ink writings left by ancient visitors.

With a rainbow of colors dancing on the stalactites, Reed Flute Cave looks more like a fantasy world than natural wonder. Don’t forget your camera to capture the magical colors.

5. Jeita Grotto – Lebanon

The 9 kilometers of underground rivers and caverns at Jeita Grotto were ancient sacrament sites later used as an ammunition storage facility. Today, Jeita Grotto comprises two beautiful but very different limestone caves open for guided tours.

Jeita Upper Grotto contains the world’s longest known stalactite at over 8 meters. Walk through the large galleries and chambers to see dazzling rock formations, curtain-like flowstones, and impressive stalactites.

Jeita Lower Grotto holds a massive underground river. Visitors can ride electrical boats to see theLOWER meticulously lit cavern filled with natural sculptures. This photogenic cave looks like a cathedral with monumental rock features.

Jeita Grotto is easy to access from Beirut and one of Lebanon’s most popular tourist attractions. Guests must visit on guided tours, with two separate admissions for the upper and lower grottos.

6. Crystal Cave of the Giants – Mexico

Hidden beneath the Naica mountain in Mexico lies a spectacular cave filled with giant crystals up to 4 meters long. The Crystal Cave of the Giants was discovered by chance when mining operations started in 2000.

The selenite gypsum crystals astounded geologists with not just their mammoth size but also their perfection. The translucent beams are slow-growing at a rate of 1 cm per millennium but ultimately flawless.

Due to the heat inside this cave at 136°F and the fragile crystals, visits are strictly limited. After donning special suits, visitors can marvel at the sheer enormity of the crystals in this geological wonder.

7. Phraya Nakhon Cave – Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park, Thailand

After hiking through Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park, you come across a gaping hole in the cliffside. Descend through the opening into Phraya Nakhon Cave to reveal an unexpected surprise inside: a Thai-style pavilion.

Sunbeams streaming through openings in the cave ceiling illuminate the Kuha Karuhas pavilion built in the 1890s. The royal structure was created for visits by King Chulalongkorn.

The pavilion appears to float on the island of rock formations inside the massive chamber. Low tides allow visitors to walk through the back of the cave opening out to the Gulf of Thailand.

Hiking to Phraya Nakhon Cave through mangrove forests and along coastal bluffs is an adventure on its own. Arriving at the hidden pavilion is a stunning reward.

8. Deer Cave – Gunung Mulu National Park, Malaysia

Deer Cave in Sarawak is the world’s largest natural rock chamber, capable of fitting in 40 Boeings. Inside, Deer Cave stretches over 2 kilometers long, 90 meters high, and up to 120 meters wide.

The cave gets its name from the deer that once wandered into the huge opening searching for salt licks. Today, adventurers are drawn here to explore miles of tunnels snaking off from the massive central chamber.

Around dusk, millions of wrinkle-lipped bats exit Deer Cave in a spiraling vortex that looks like a black tornado against the sky. This phenomenon happens daily as the bats leave to hunt insects.

9. Eisriesenwelt Ice Caves – Werfen, Austria

Beneath the Hochkogel Mountain in Austria lies the Eisriesenwelt, which translates to “World of the Ice Giants.” This natural limestone ice cave extends over 42 kilometers and is the largest of its kind worldwide.

The entrance tours take visitors down a long passageway to the stunning chamber of the Eispalast. Enormous ice formations resemble magical castles and ice sculptures. Strange blue lighting illuminates the thick ice.

Deeper into the frozen maze, more passages contain frosty columns, frozen waterfalls, and underground glaciers. Going with a guide is mandatory to safely traverse narrow ledges above the icy depths.

The ice caves maintain a frigid below freezing temperature year-round, so dressing warmly is a must on these active tours.

10. Ajanta Caves – Maharashtra, India

Along a horseshoe-shaped cliff in Maharashtra sits a group of Ajanta Caves filled with exquisite Buddhist artworks. These 30 rock-cut temples date back over 2,000 years. Inside, you can admire impressive murals, sculptures, and paintings considered masterpieces of ancient art.

The artistic cave shrines were hand carved out of the cliffside by early Buddhist monks. Many feature worship halls, shrines, paintings of the Buddha’s past lives on the walls and ceilings, as well as rock-cut stupas and sculptures of figures in iconic poses.

Visiting the Ajanta Caves provides an immersion in classical Buddhist art and architecture. The backdrop of the horseshoe waterfall and mountainous scenery only adds to the magic.

11. Blue Grotto – Capri, Italy

Beneath the cliffs of the island of Capri lies the Blue Grotto, or Grotta Azzurra. This unique sea cave has an entrance so small that rowboats must pass through one at a time. Inside, you are rewarded with an unearthly glow of brilliant blue water.

The grotto’s distinctive color comes from sunlight passing through underwater openings that filter out red tones. This leaves behind mesmerizing blue hues that intensify the later in the day it gets.

Visitors have been enchanted by the brilliant blue waters of the Blue Grotto for centuries. Early Roman statues have even been found at the entrance underwater.

The only way to visit is on a rowboat tour out of Capri or Anacapri. Lie back and admire the vibrant blue glow illuminating the cave.

12. Grotte de Castellane – Castellane, France

Just an hour north of the French Riviera lies the spectacular Grotte de Castellane. These heavily decorated caves have been dazzling visitors since opening in 1935. They hold the world records for the greatest number of stalactite types in one cave and the largest underground room open to tourism.

On the tour, you weave through narrow passageways and descend 400 stairs. This leads to the world-famous Temple of Giants, a vaulted room with staggering colorful stalagmites up to 10 meters tall. Other highlights include pure waterfalls and dazzling rock formations such as the sensational Map of France.

For a magical experience, arrive at night when the caves are beautifully illuminated with colorful lights. This highlights the natural beauty in ways you could only imagine.

13. Ellison’s Cave – Georgia, USA

Serious spelunkers head to Ellison’s Cave in Georgia, the deepest cave pit in the continental US. The enormous Fantastic Pit descends 586 feet straight down, requiring special gear to reach the bottom.

Ellison’s Cave is 12 miles long and still being explored. Much is challenging, involving sheer drops, squeezes between rocks, and chest-deep water crossings. Sections have colorful names like Perpetual Chasm, Treacherous Traverse, and L’aven.

Beyond the Fantastic Pit, the biggest attraction is the enormous Underground Waterfall. Water plunges down a 120-foot cliff into the bottom of the pit, making it one of the tallest underground waterfalls. Experienced cavers only should attempt Ellison’s Cave.

14. Puerto Princesa Subterranean River – Palawan, Philippines

Winding through the St. Paul Mountain Range on Palawan island, the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River flows directly into the ocean. The 8.2 kilometer long cave system features stunning limestone karst landscapes and one of the world’s longest underground rivers.

Aboat ride takes visitors through part of the cave to see dripstone rock formations, large chambers, and stalactites that appear to melt like candle wax. Beyond the point tourists can access lies miles more of unexplored recesses.

The biodiverse site protects important habitats, incredibly clear water, and unique wildlife species like the endemic Palawan mossy frog. It earned distinction as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature.

15. Cheddar Gorge Caves – Somerset, England

Flickering candles and the sounds of dripping water greet you as you descend into the darkness of Cheddar Gorge Caves. This extensive natural cave system located in Somerset has attracted visitors since prehistoric times.

The oldest complete human skeleton ever found in Britain, Cheddar Man, was unearthed here. The Gough’s Cave also displays fascinating stalagmites, stalactites, and rock formations.

For a more immersive experience, visitors can don hard hats for an adventure caving experience. This allows you to squeeze and climb through narrow rock openings usually only accessible to professional cavers.

The Cheddar Gorge’s steep limestone cliffs and winding caves have been carved out over millions of years. Walking the gorge trails lets you take in stunning aerial views before descending into the caves below.

Discover the Mysteries Under the Earth

The world’s most incredible caves are marvels of nature just waiting to be explored. From glowing worm grottos to ice palaces to underground waterfalls, caves create unforgettable experiences for adventurers.

So grab your flashlight and go underground on a subterranean adventure. Descend into vast chambers, admire sparkling crystals, and walk through millions of years of natural history.

Have you visited any awe-inspiring caves or caverns? Let us know which destinations are on your bucket list in the comments!

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