When we think of caves, we imagine how, down the generations, man has lived in many of them and left their footprints. There are many wonderful natural caves, too, which refuse to be deterred by human invasion, and hold such mysteries that are still unrevealed. Let’s look at some of the greatest natural caves in the world.
- 10. Painted Cave, California
- 9. Fingal’s Cave, Scotland
- 8. Caverns of Sonora, Texas
- 7. Cave of Swallows, Mexico
- 6. Waitomo Glow-worm Caves, New Zealand
- 5. Antelope Canyon, American Southwest
- 4. Marble Caves, Chile-Argentina
- 3. Caves of Algarve, Portugal
- 2. Ice Cave near Mutnovsky Volcano, Russia
- 1. Son Doong Cave, Vietnam
10. Painted Cave, California
This is no cave with primitive paintings. Why, then, does the cave in the Channel Islands National park in Santa Cruz Island, called so? Because, the walls inside the sea cave are colourful, owing to the rocks, lichens and algae. There are also some wonderfully multi-coloured flowers. Travellers can go kayaking through the cave, and using flashlights, they can be amazed by these cave walls. One of the deepest and longest sea caves in the world, this cave also has an opening that looks like a work of fiction, and a waterfall over this entrance during spring. Altogether, the cave definitely deserves the name.
9. Fingal’s Cave, Scotland
The Fingal’s Cave located in the Staffa Island in the Inner Hebrides is a great wonder for any explorer. It is entirely constructed from jointed basalt columns which are hexagonal in shape. Nowhere else in the world can such a structure be found. The columns provide a crude walkway for the explorers and lead them deeper inside. Formed from gradual the cooling and solidification on the upper and lower surfaces of the solidified lava which led to contraction and fracturing, the unique shape of the walls can be comprehended from outside. The arched roof and the size of the cave, along with the echoes of the waves, create the atmosphere of a cathedral inside this cave overlooking the sea.
8. Caverns of Sonora, Texas
Dubbed as one of the most beautiful sites in America, it is often said that there is no scope to exaggerate the beauty of the Caverns of Sonora, even for the Texans. This show cave with a natural trail has a stunning array of crystal formations, with helictites found in huge abundance. The helictites show a rare purity and complexity, and are often densely packed, giving the cave an amazing beauty. The most famous formation in the cave, the butterfly, was vandalized by a member of a tour group in 2006, with a large part of its right gone missing. Luckily, the formations are still growing in the cave, and there are chances of its repair.
7. Cave of Swallows, Mexico
The Cave of Swallows is a popular vertical caving destination in Mexico. Formed by the water erosion in a fault in a plain of limestone, it has a conical shape, and the cave walls have holes that provide refuge to white-collared swifts which are relatives of the swallows and hummingbirds, as well as green parakeets. The elliptical mouth opens to the largest known cave shaft in the world. It is a giant hole, large enough to swallow one of the massive skyscrapers in the city of New York, wholly. Extreme sports enthusiasts go to this thickly foliaged cave for free-fall and BASE jumping.
6. Waitomo Glow-worm Caves, New Zealand
The Waitomo Caves in New Zealand are homes to the bioluminescent glow worms that never leave these caves, and glow attract their prey. They also hang gooey, sticky strings of mucous to trap they prey. As one takes a silent ride through one of these heavenly caves, he can see the cave walls studded all over with the glowing dots, which are actually the worms clinging to the walls and ceilings. The threads, too, catch the light and create the most out-of-the-world effect, creating the sight of a starry night inside the cave. It is one of the most sought-after tourist spots in the world, and for good reasons.
5. Antelope Canyon, American Southwest
The Antelope Canyon on Navajo land near Page in Arizona is a slot canyon, formed by the erosion of the Navajo Sandstone. The deep corridors and the smooth edges form a characteristic ‘flowing’ shape in the rock, which have striations of different shades of red, pink, orange, etc. These colours become more vibrant in the Upper Antelope Canyon during the summer months, when the direct sun beams radiate down from the openings in the top of the canyon top. The colours and the beams are more muted in the Lower Antelope Canyon. While tourists are attracted mainly to the vivid monochromatic effects of the Upper Antelope Canyon, photographers frequent both the Upper Canyon, as well as the Lower Canyon with spiral rock arches. You may like; most beautiful places to visit and top 10 crystalline places in the world.
4. Marble Caves, Chile-Argentina
The Marble Caves, in Patagonia, is a set of unusual islands with interesting openings into caverns, columns and tunnels constructed in monoliths of marble, formed by wave action by the Lake General Carrera. One can boat through these cave chambers and realize that there is, indeed, heaven on earth, as he witnesses the turquoise of the water and the various tinges of blue and grey in the swirling patterns of labyrinth walls. As the sunlight shines brightly upon the walls with shimmering crystals, the colours appear vivid and bright, which, along with the sparkly azure waters, creates an unforgettable visual experience.
3. Caves of Algarve, Portugal
Beautiful caves, grottoes and hollows, carved in limestone can be found in the coastline of Algarve, the southernmost region of mainland Portugal. These caves are found mainly around Lagos and can be accessed with the help of boats of dinghies. Benagil’s Algar is one of the most famous and beautiful among these caverns that adorn the isolated beaches. The complex rock formations, dimensions and textures, along with the wide variety of sandy shades, make these an impressive and picturesque experience, along with the ever-changing light filtering in through the holes, and the crystalline water.
2. Ice Cave near Mutnovsky Volcano, Russia
We all know about the wonder, crystalline ice caves in Austria, Iceland and other parts of the world. But, the ice cave in the Kamchatka Peninsula, near Mutnovsky Volcano, is one of a kind, as it almost brings alive a ‘fire-and-ice’ kind of juxtaposition: it is carved out of a glacier by an underground river which has its source in a hot spring rising from the volcano. Layers of compacted snow build the walls and the ceiling of the cave. Vivid colours and lights can be seen inside the cave, beaming in through the nearly transparent roof and icy windows on the walls. Any light kindled inside the cave is highlighted by the undulations, caused by the eroding warm water.
1. Son Doong Cave, Vietnam
The Son Doong Cave is the world’s largest cave, formed by the erosion of limestone underneath the mountains by the river water, and causing the ceiling to collapse, thus creating a huge natural skylights. Though it is millions of years old, it was not until very recently that it caught the attention of the world. The cave hides a whole world inside it, with its own river, jungle and climate. Some of the world’s tallest stalagmites are found here. The solutional cave has a large calcite wall called The Great Wall of Vietnam, behind which were found abnormally large cave pearls the size of baseballs. It is a popular tourist sport, now, with its vastness providing a humbling experience.
There are innumerable other caves in the world, some of which have been used by men, and many more which are still undiscovered and unexplored. Who knows what unfound natural masterpieces and valuables are hidden in these! Only time will tell.