In futuristic films, humanity is often found living underground after a major climate crisis forced it to find a new way of life away from environmental contaminants. After watching one of those apocalyptic movies, I remember thinking to myself, "Could we really live like this? Could we pull this off? How many years would it even take to dig up such a cave?" Well, now there's one less thing to worry about, as such a cave already exists. It's called the Son Doong Cave in Vietnam, and for a humble price of $ 3,000, you could visit it too.
We're sharing photos of the cave by H.Minh Nguyen, a Hanoian traveler who waited three years for her turn to visit the great caves of Vietnam.
The Son Doong Cave is the largest in the world. Being such a natural monument, it is also not that easily reachable. Just like it would take months and endless sacrifices to climb Mt. Everest, it takes a 4-day journey to get to this cave. The brave and lucky visitors trek for hours every day to get to the cave through the wild Vietnamese rainforests.
In the cave, you'll find a whole world underground. There are only two openings in the cave's ceiling created by naturally collapsed stone. There's a rainforest and a river flowing underground. How far deep, you ask? Well, it varies throughout the terrain, but there is an almost 300-feet-long rope ladder dangling.
The cave itself is estimated to be 3 million years old. There are stalagmites the height of small buildings in the cave, created by drippings of eons and eons.
Close to the opening of the cave/Source
The visit is only available from January – August due to annual flooding. Every expedition can hold up to 10 people. No children are allowed to take up this challenge. You'll be crossing distances of 10 miles above the ground and 5 miles within the cave, all at an overall elevation change (the heights you'll move through) of about half a mile, not to mention the rope ladder- it is not optional! This is truly one of the world's most demanding treks- not for the faint of heart, mind, or body.
The Son Doong Cave in Vietnam is a fragile ecosystem and so only 1,000 visitors are allowed each year. There is only one operator that runs tours- Oxalis Adventures. Each group is accompanied by 22 porters (who port your belongings to wait for you at the camp at the end of each day) and 5 safety assistants, as well as a professional tour guide, a cave expert, a forest ranger, and of course two cooks. The company will provide safety and camping gear, all meals and snacks, transportation, first aid, and a satellite phone. Now, perhaps, the price sounds a tad more reasonable.
The enormous stalagmites/Source
The first camp on the shore of an underground river
Well, you've decided you're up for the challenge, have you? You've got the funds, you're well in shape, and you've got the time. But alas, time is maybe the most precious valuable when going on the Son Doong Cave expedition- the waiting list is usually a minimum of a year!
This monumental opening is nearly 400 feet tall and 460 feet wide/Source
Think you've read all there is to know about this cave? Just you wait, you haven't heard half of it. This enormous cave was hidden for eons. It was only discovered by chance- a local went out in search of a certain type of wood that rarely grows in the rainforest. He stumbled upon the cave opening but never entered for fear of his safety. This was in 1990.
He forgot about the cave and its location, but after almost two decades, in 2009, he was compelled to find the entrance again by members of the British Cave Research Association exploring the area. He led the way, and the team entered and measured the cave. A week later, it was announced as the world's largest cave. This record was made official in 2013 by the Guinness World Records book.
Enjoy this video made by the official team of Oxalis Adventures: