A real-life journey to the center of the Earth
This is for real. Real photos. A real forgotten world unlike anything you have ever seen right in Vietnam. And the reality is this: it’s just a cave.
Deep inside Phon Nha-ke Bag National Park in Vietnam happens to be an easily-missed cave — which now happens to be the largest known cave in the entire planet Earth. The cave has a name — Hang Son Doong, which means “Mountain River Cave.” Here’s why:
The cave actually has a real river deep inside it
Let’s back up, though, before we get ahead of ourselves.
So when we say that it seems to be a completely “new world,” we mean it. Once you step in, you’re no longer on planet Earth — but somewhere else, and we apparently just recently were able to explore a huge portion of the entire expanse of this cave.
It all started back in 1991 when a Vietnamese farmer named Ho Khanh found this underground cave in the national park, noticing that the cave wasn’t just a cave — but an entire ecosystem underground. There wasn’t nearly enough supplies for an expedition to explore the entirety of Hang Son Doong until 2008 when Ho Khanh happened to stumble upon the initial mouth of the cave by chance for a second time, which he then documented the location. It was then a year later in 2009 that a team of professionals came back to Hang Son Doong for the very first expedition.
What they found was earth-shattering
To say that the cave wasn’t just a ‘cave’ is an understatement. At the start of such a journey, it turned out that reaching the very bottom took an amazing 262 feet of descent, and once they were finally at the floor of the massive alien world, they realized that this was an expanse so large that it sported even its own river (hence the name the cave has). Its own actual jungle. And even its own climate. A world literally underneath a world.
As they explored, it turned out that while most caves have all the resident insects and maybe even bats — but Hang Son Doong also had quite a few resident birds, monkeys, and a lot more of the native animals you’d expect from a jungle on the surface. The cave even had beaches. With sand.
The reason for this was the fact that the cave had formed along the edge of a fault zone developed by the Rao Thuong River. Over time the water eroded away the limestone and formed the tunnel beneath the Annamite Mountains, which created the massive expanse of 150 smaller cavern networks inside the mountains.
Brace yourself with this piece of information: Hang Son Doong is a remarkable 3.1 miles long. That’s a big cave. Additionally, many of the caverns you’d find go as high as 656 feet and 492 in diameter. When you put that in perspective…. That’s bigger than a football field.
The fossil specimens in this ancient wonder of the world (might truly be yet another “wonder of the world” in the list) are also a sight to see. Who knows what creatures we would find. Stalagmites also reach way up to 262 feet high. A whole lot taller than most trees are.
Once again, we reiterate: these are real photos
And if you ever wanted to see a true paradise, this would be the place. It exists. And it’s another testament to how beautiful the Earth — even underground — can be.