In 1991, Ho Khanh, a local farmer was out gathering wood in the dense jungle of Vietnam’s Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, when he stumbled upon an enormous cave entrance. The roar of a rushing stream and the whistling sound of wind in the cave can be heard through the entrance located in a limestone cliff.
According to Khanh, it “felt like something from the underworld.” He soon forgot the cave’s location until he met British spelunkers exploring the area, some 20 years later. He began looking for the cave entrance again, which he found in 2008. The following year, he led an international team of scientists from the British Cave Research Association, led by Howard and Deb Limbert, in exploring what is now known as Son Doong Cave, the largest cave in the world.
Below are 28 stunning photos that capture the cave’s surreal, massive beauty. Enjoy!
The name “Son Doong” cave means “mountain river cave.”
John Spies on 500px │ via HuffPost
Hang Son Doong skyhole, John Spies on 500px │ via HuffPost
It is a solutional cave located in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, Bo Trạch District, Quang Binh Province, Vietnam.
Ryan Deboodt on 500px │ via HuffPost
Garden of Edam, Ryan Deboodt on 500px │ via HuffPost
Partick Murray on 500px │ via HuffPost
A part of the ceiling, where the limestone was weak, collapsed and created huge skylights.
Watch out for sunbeams, Ryan Deboodt on 500px │ via HuffPost
Standing in the light, Mike Rowbottom on 500px │ via HuffPost
The cave is over 5.5 miles long. It has a jungle and river, and could fit a 40-story skyscraper within its walls.
Dinh Anh Cuong Nguyen on 500px │ via HuffPost
Underground river, Ryan Deboodt on 500px │ via HuffPost
Underground forest, John Spies on 500px │ via HuffPost
The first expedition (from 10 to 14 April 2009) into Son Doong Cave was stopped by a 200-meter high calcite wall that the spelunkers dubbed the “Great Wall of Vietnam.”
Approaching camp one, John Spies on 500px │ via HuffPost
The depths of Son Doong, Mike Rowbottom on 500px │ via HuffPost
The following year, a team successfully traversed the rock wall and were able to reach the end of the cave’s wall, officially determining Son Doong to be largest in the world.
Mike Rowbottom on 500px │ via HuffPost
The biggest chamber of Son Doong is more than 3.1 miles long, 660 ft high, and 490 ft wide.
The cave is also home to some of the world’s tallest stalagmites which tower 260 ft in the air, and limestone “cave pearls” (the size of baseballs) can be found on the cave floor.
The world’s tallest stalagmite, John Spies on 500px │ via HuffPost
Otherworldly waterfall, Ryan Deboodt on 500px │ via HuffPost
Camp in Hang Son Doong, Ryan Deboodt on 500px │ via HuffPost
Land from another time, Quinton Wall on 500px │ via HuffPost
Cave climate, John Spies on 500px │ via HuffPost