Caves of the World
Caves and abandoned quarries, mines and mysterious phenomena of nature. This is all one big catalog for fans of the mysteries and riddles of the beautiful underworld. Probably,
everyone has a secret desire to go down with speleologists and see the treasures of the Mistress of the Copper Mountain, or to find answers to the underground mysteries.
Tavda caves are located on the border of the Altai region and the Altai Republic, as part of a large tourist complex, surrounded by various attractions.
Cave monastery complex Ajanta is a tourist attraction in India, the ancient masters in the rocky caves created a monument of Buddhist culture.
Karst caves are natural monuments of Primorye, taken under protection of the state. Despite this, everyone can freely visit these mysterious places.
Scotland is a country worth visiting, one of its most interesting and surreal sights is Fingal Cave.
When you get into the marble caves, you enter an otherworldly world, and in your mind immediately think of the unearthly origin of the place with its amazing statues of nature.
Sak-Aktun is unique and inimitable, consists of a complex of more than a hundred small caves, connected to each other.
The Sistine Chapel of Primitive Art is what scientists have nicknamed Altamira; a lot of material from the life of primitive society was obtained while studying the cave.
Huashan is one of the sacred mountains located in China, there are religious ceremonies, and there are also unusual Huashan caves.
In 1941 in Argentina, a unique cave was discovered and named Cueva de las Manos, translated as Cave of Hands.
Kitum Cave in Africa, located in the depths of the long extinct Elgon Volcano on the border of Kenya and Uganda.
The Marble Caves of Chile Chico consist of several blue grottoes, which are partially under the water of Lake Carrera.
Postojna Caves, a system of karst caves 20,570 m long on the Kras Plateau, is located near the town of Postojna in Slovenia.
Ellora is a village in the Indian state of Maharashtra, a system of caves and numerous castles, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
There are no rivers at all on the Yucatan – water seeps into the lime rock, cenotes – natural gaps in the limestone caves.
Sour Cave is a two-kilometer long labyrinth in Cretaceous limestone located in southern Mexico in the state of Tabasco.
Qumran is a mysterious ancient settlement one and a half kilometers from the Dead Sea coast, on the West Bank of the Jordan River.
Ice Cave is located on a frozen glacier in Icelandic National Park, founded in 1967.
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Top 10 most beautiful caves and grottoes of the world
We should note at once – we chose for our TOP-10 only those Russian and foreign natural sites, to which tourists (whether independent or organized) can have access without special caving training and equipment.
If we took also those objects whose (often fantastic) beauty can see only cave explorers, our ten would look different, but would be little practical. But 10 caves from our list you can freely visit and take from there rare pictures. By the way, Russian caves and grottoes will be the subject of our separate selection.
THE EISRIESENWELT ICE CAVE
Where: Werfen, Austria.
Eisriesenwelt means “world of ice giants” in German. This naturally occurring limestone ice cave is the largest and most popular of its kind in the world. About 200,000 tourists visit it every year.
The Eisrizenvelt was formed by an erosion process caused by the Salzach River. The bizarre ice formations in the cave were formed by thawing snow in the cave, which flowed and froze in winter. Cold winds circulate inside the cave, so the ice formations persist and do not melt in the summer.
The cave has a length of 42 kilometers, but only the first kilometer of this cave is covered with ice and is open to tourists. The depth is 407 m.
Features. The cave is open to the public usually from May 1 to October 26. During the winter months, the entrance is closed due to the danger of avalanches.
THE LUMINOUS CAVES WAITOMO CAVES
Location: New Zealand
This cave is the main attraction of the country and is popular with tourists around the world. Fireflies “arachna luminosa” are found only in New Zealand and the largest number of them live only in this cave. They are the size of an ordinary mosquito, but it is worth considering that there are millions of them here. The fireflies are carefully monitored by a specialist from the scientific advisory group who uses automatic equipment to remotely monitor the cave, including temperature, the amount of carbon dioxide (needed to keep the fireflies alive) and the number of visitors who may come in daily.
The tours run on three levels and begin with a boat ride into the underground river, where the ceiling in the cave is lit exclusively by these spectacular fireflies. It feels as if you are looking at the night sky, full of twinkling stars – amazing beauty, so even wedding tours with photo shoots are arranged here.
The cave has three levels, which are united by a 16-meter vertical shaft. The tour begins with the first level, represented by the catacombs. The second level was called the Banquet Hall, and the third level goes deeper into the so-called Cathedral, which is a large hall with a vault height of about 18 meters, which has good acoustic data.
Features. On Christmas night in the Cathedral Hall of the cave very beautifully sung a cappella Christmas carols.
KUNGUR ICE CAVE
Where: Perm Region, Russia
The Kungur Cave is located near the town of Kungur in the village of Filippovka and stretches underground for more than 5 km. The beauty of its grottoes and relatively convenient location for tourists made this cave the most visited place of interest in the Urals, and numerous magazines and portals regularly include it in the list of top-10 most fascinating caves in the world. We were no exception.
One of the most beautiful places in the cave is located right at the entrance – these are the Diamond and Polar Grottoes. The mass of multi-year ice in these halls shimmers like a petrified waterfall, and the arches are covered with large crystals. In the Kungurskaya cave there are several dozens of grottoes: each of them has its own history and a unique name. The largest – the grotto of Geographers – occupies an area of 50 thousand cubic meters, and accessible on the tourist route – the Grotto of the Giant – 45 thousand cubic meters. There are also galleries, decorated with stone lace, which diligently “carved” water for 12 000 years.
It is noteworthy that tours to the Kungur cave began to organize more than a hundred years ago. To this day it is one of the most popular attractions in Siberia and the Urals.
The length of the cave is 5.6 km, of which 1.5 km are equipped for tourists.
Features. Contains 58 grottos, 70 lakes. The cave is more than 10-12 thousand years old.
THE BLUE GROTTO
Where: Capri island, Italy
The Blue Grotto is a true hallmark of the Italian island of Capri. It is a sea cave found on the coast and has become one of the most popular tourist attractions. The grotto has the only entrance from the sea, and it can be accessed only by boat.
This cave is unique in its kind because of the blue-emerald glow of the water. This impressive glow comes from two sources. One is the entrance way to the cave, which is a small hole that only one boat can enter at a time. And in stormy weather the entrance to the grotto is closed because of the low entrance. Another source is a large hole under the entrance way, submerged in water. The entrance way, when viewed from inside the cave, looks like a bright white light just above the water line. A second opening from under the water, which is a larger source of light, gives off a blue glow.
The grotto is 56 meters long, 30 meters wide, the vault is 15 meters above the water level and the entrance is up to 1.3 meters high.
Features. In his time in the grotto were found Roman statues – hence, the grotto was known to the ancient Romans, and it is likely that it was once a sanctuary. Until the 20s of the XIX century, the place, then called “Gradola” enjoyed a bad reputation among the local fishermen and sailors. They tried to avoid it because it was believed that the cave was home to witches and sea monsters.
Where: Kentucky, USA
The Mammoth Cave System – Flint Ridge is the longest karst cave system in the world and is likely to remain so forever. It covers 52,830 hectares, twice as long as Mexico’s Sac-Actun cave system, which is almost entirely under water.
The eponymous Mammoth Cave National Park offers several cave tours for tourists and visitors. Numerous attractions here include: “Grand Avenue,” “Frozen Niagara,” and the famous “Fat Man’s Misery.”
These sights can be seen on artificial light tours that can last up to 6 hours. There are also “wild” tours with theatrical performances where tourists have to climb muddy and dusty tunnels.
The length of the explored part of the cave system is more than 587 km. In the explored part there are 225 underground passages, about 20 large halls and 20 deep mines.
Features. Until the early 1990s there was a boat tour along the underground Echo River. The excursion was discontinued because it was unprofitable and because of the damage caused by visitors to the river fauna.
Where: New Mexico, USA
Carlsbad Caverns National Park sits atop a limestone cliff above the water table. It is one of the most visited caves in the United States, with a total of 41 million visitors in 2011.
The caves are open year-round, except on Christmas Day, and visitors can either walk 230 meters all the way down to the cave entrance or use a special elevator.
The main attraction of the park is a chain of 80 karst caves. The largest hall in the caves covers an area of 5.7 hectares, with dimensions in two directions 610 and 335 m, and it reaches a height of 87 m.
The depth of the caves reaches 339 m, the total length of all passages and halls is about 12 km.
Features. Many programs for tourists are offered here, including watching bats fly from inside the cave to outside during sunset and back to the cave before sunrise. Camping is also allowed here.
GROTTO MARBLE CATHEDRAL / CUEVAS DE MARMOL, MARBLE CATHEDRAL
Where: Coillaca, Chile
The Marble Cathedral Grotto is “cut into” a peninsula on the high glacial Lake General Carrera, which is located on the Chilean-Argentine border. The peninsula itself extends almost to the middle of the lake on its Chilean side and is composed of limestone rocks.
The way a tourist there is quite difficult: it involves an internal flight from Santiago to the city of Coyhaique, then will need to travel by car another 320 kilometers to the south to the lake itself.
But the long journey is worth it. The views and photos of the crystal-clear water framed by the whimsically wavy marble walls of the grottoes, which resemble a natural temple, are some of the most impressive.
The Marble Cathedral grotto itself and the other grottoes of this marble cave system were formed about 6,000 years ago – the waves of the lake washed away the coastal rocks. The color of the water in the cave varies – depending on the time of day, season, weather, and water level – from azure blue to almost dark green.
Features. You can get to the caves only by boat – the locals do it for tourists (there are several settlements where you can stay). There are some beautiful natural arches on the lake near the entrances to the caves. They are also very bizarre, and somewhat reminiscent of the “flying islands” from the movie “Avatar”.
CAVES ŠKOCJAN JAME / ŠKOCJAN CAVE
Where: Plateau Karst, Slovenia.
The system of limestone caves in south-western Slovenia is one of the most famous examples of “contact karst” in the world.
The cave is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its outstanding importance. International scientific circles also consider it one of the natural treasures of the planet. In addition to being insanely beautiful, it has a diverse ecosystem of relict and rare species. This place has a historical value because it was inhabited in prehistoric times.
The total length of the passages of the entire cave system, going down to a depth of -223 m, is 6.2 km. In the system there are numerous sinkholes and cavities, underground cavities and about 30 waterfalls up to 10 m high.
Features. Since 2004 it is a karst biosphere reserve. Since 2006, it is regularly visited by hundreds of thousands of tourists each year.
MULU CAVES / MULU CAVES
Where: Borneo, Malaysia
The Mulu Caves are located in Gunung Mulu National Park in Borneo and are one of Malaysia’s top tourist attractions. The park includes incredible caves and karst formations in a mountainous equatorial rainforest setting.
The Sarawak Grotto, found here in one of the underground caves, is about 700 meters long and 396 meters wide, at least 70 meters high, and is the largest cave grotto in the world. It is claimed to be so large that it could hold about 40 Boeing 747 planes including the wings.
Features. The national park where the caves are located is extremely varied in landscape – there are peat bogs and jungle-covered hills where about 1,500 species of flowers grow, 10 of which are carnivorous.
PUERTO PRINCESA UNDERGROUND RIVER
Where: Palawan Island, Philippines
Puerto Princesa is an underground river and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can enter the cave where the river flows from a nearby town by walking a few kilometers.
In 2010, a team of ecologists and geologists discovered that the underground river has a “second floor” and there are numerous small waterfalls in its cave. There is also a 300-meter cave dome above the underground river, where you can see incredible rock formations, other river channels, another deep cave, large bats and an abundance of sea creatures.
The cave is navigable by boat up to 4 km deep–this part of it is accessible to tourists. The deeper part of the cave cannot be explored due to lack of oxygen. Inside the cave there are also several large grottos, including the “Italian Grotto” 360 meters high, which is one of the largest cave grottos in the world.
Features. The underground river runs underground toward the South China Sea. Its length is more than 24 km.Similar underground river is also known in the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, but Puerto Princesa is recognized as the largest.