Photo by: Getty Images

Getty Images

Son Doong Cave Is So Big It Has Its Own Rainforest

By: Ashley Gabriel

This amazing cave also houses an impressive eco-system.

August 01, 2019

The Son Doong Cave in Vietnam is the largest cave passage in the world. This huge and intricate cave system was created by water that percolated down from a rainforest above, ultimately carving into the rock. Deep inside the cave sits a flourishing jungle, which grows 200 meters below ground level in an area where the cave roof has collapsed. Home to an impressive eco-system with a dangerous system of pathways, this rainforest is quite the destination. To date, only explorers and very few tourists have laid eyes on it. Would you dare to be one of them?

Photo by: Getty Images

Getty Images

An Accidental Discovery

For a cave that's located inside of an UNESCO listed park, Vietnam's Phong Nha-Ke Bang, it's quite shocking that it was first discovered only 3 decades ago - on accident by a local farmer. In 1990, while seeking shelter from a storm in the jungle, Ho Khanh stumbled upon this 3-million-year-old natural wonder and reported it to the British Caving Research Association. Unfortunately, however, Khanh lost track of the cave's exact location and it took almost 2 more decades for Son Doong cave to be rediscovered. Unbelievably, in 2008, Ho Khanh stumbled upon the elusive cave once again! Luckily he remembered the location this time around and experts finally began exploring, eventually determining Son Doong to be the largest cave in the world.

Inside of a Rainforest, Inside of a Cave

Appropriate to its record-breaking size, Son Doong also houses an impressive eco-system. Not only does it have its own localized weather system, but this massive cave is home to the largest stalagmite ever found, nicknamed "Hand of Dog," and a cave floor littered with rare limestone pearls. But all of that isn't even close to everything Son Doong has to offer — this fascinating cave system has its very own rainforest, the Garden of Edam.

With time, collapsed ceilings have created holes called dolines, allowing lush foliage to grow and creating a remote and dangerously inaccessible jungle. Son Doong's rainforest is home to flying foxes and endangered tigers, as well as rare langurs and trees as tall as buildings. On bright days sunbeams stream through the dolines, illuminating carpets of moss below on a section of the cave nicknamed "Watch Out for Dinosaurs." Since 2012, one tour company called Oxalis has been taking a strict number of tourists per year into Son Doong — a treacherous five-day trek that only a lucky few will ever experience.

This article first appeared on Curiosity.com.

Next Up

Celebrating Black Explorers with J.R. Harris

Meet J. Robert Harris, a marketing consultant and social scientist by profession and a true explorer by heart. He's been exploring remote parts of the world for 50 years. Using personal anecdotes and archival images, J.R. draws from his own expedition experience and spotlights the struggles and triumphs of Black explorers throughout history and those who forge ahead today.

Werewolf of the Mexican South

Ocozocoautla de Espinosa is a small town that hugs one of the least-visited Natural Reserves in Mexico’s southernmost state of Chiapas and it may have a werewolf problem.

We May Finally Know How the Pyramids Were Built

Scientists have discovered new evidence that may explain how these iconic structures were built.

Why Do People Live Near Active Volcanoes?

Volcanoes have a lot to offer local residents.

Thousands of People Have Mysteriously Disappeared in "Alaska's Bermuda Triangle"

This track of wilderness is it far more deadly than its tropical cousin.

New Year, New Adventures: What the World has to Offer

With a new year comes new opportunities, and there’s no time like the present to start learning more about parts of the world you’ve never dreamed of before. Please review and follow all state and local guidelines while traveling. Updated December 17, 2021

Allegedly, There Is a Secret Underground Alien Base in Dulce, New Mexico

This little town is home to unimaginable experiments and technologies.

There's A Hidden Beach In Mexico Called Playa del Amor

This exotic beach is invisible from the outside.