Hang Son Doong, Vietnam
Introduction: Vietnam contains some of the most beautiful natural wonders of the world. Especially, the unique location of its north- central coastal province Quang Binh allows it to host some of the rare natural scenic areas of the world. Just like Vietnam’s North- Easter province Quang Ninh is famous for its Ha Long Bay, Quang Binh is well-known for having world’s largest caves.
Quang Binh Province: The province covers an area of approximately 8000 square kilometers. 85% of its terrain is mountainous with an overall topography as a slope (higher in the West and lower in the East). It shares a significant length of the coast with the Pacific Ocean on the Eastern side.
Climate: Summers here are very hot and humid, having relatively lesser rainfall than spring. The average temperature in summers is around 35 degrees. Winters are also humid and not-so-cold with average temperature lying within 12 to 16 degrees.
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Hang Son Doong: Also known as the ‘Son Doong Cave.’ The name translates to ‘Cave of the Mountain River.’ It is a karst cave consisting of a large, fast- flowing subterranean river. Located at the heart of Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park, the cave was discovered in 1991 by a local who could not enter the cave himself because of the steep descent.
The Cave Passage: A wall being a barrier for people trying to enter the cave is as high as 200 feet made up of calcite, a polymorph carbonate mineral, which is also known as the Great Wall of Vietnam. The entrance to this cave is the largest cave passage in the world. Twice as the size of second largest cave passage, this one measures 5 kilometers in length, 200 meters in height and 150 meters in width.
Formation of the Cave: The cave is believed to be formed in around 20 million years by geological processes of the morphology of soluble mineral rocks such as marble and limestone. This reshaping of the minerals requires ideal weathering conditions to form how they are today. The cave is one of the most amazing examples of karst formation from limestone.
The Landscape: The scenic beauty of this cave is absolutely to die for. Just outside the mouth of the cave, a cold breeze rushes out towards you. The entrance to the cave is made by trekking and climbing. As you go in, you’re able to witness nature’s breath taking beauty by looking at the fast subterranean river flowing within, by mighty limestone stalagmites emerging from the ground and stalactites hanging down. The cave has its localized weather system creating mist and housing wild trees. The cave extends up to 9 kilometers of depth.
The river flowing within comes naturally from a sinkhole where it enters the cave and eventually flows down towards the descent, exiting the cave as a regular river. Hence, it is called as a subterranean river that flows beneath the surface of the earth. The cave is home to various types of flora and fauna.
The cave has recently been explored by members of the British Cave Research Association in the year 2009 and made open to the public for a visit in 2013. The place is not very famous, and it has been seen by lesser people than those standing on the summit of Mount Everest.