Every modern day youngster has a dream to be an explorer, maybe find a new thing or discover a whole new place! This is exactly the story of a Vietnamese farmer, Ho Khanh who being an avid trekker explored his surrounding land only to discover the largest cave in the world, now known as Hang So Doong, which is located in the Phon Nha-ke Bag National Park.
One day, while out on his regular trip he discovered a limestone cliff. On further inspection, he noted clouds rumbling inside of it, and heard a river inside, but came back due to the rushing wind coming out. Upon returning home from the day’s ordeal, he forgot the exact location.
That was until he came across two cave experts. Howard and Deb Limbert of the British Cave Research Association took keen interest in the existence of such caves upon hearing an account from Ho Khanh, and following years of rigorous search and mapping, they finally discovered the cave’s location one more time!
The spoils of their battle to retrace the cave, had paid them handsomely! They stepped into a whole new world of ethereal beauty! Well, it takes a humongous bit of effort to get down into the cave system, meaning that one needs to climb down a rope of 262 feet! Quick tip, try not to look down!
The entire system has multiple sections ranging from 200m tall caves to ones which are 150m wide. So that’s basically a network of multiple football grounds! The system spans a length of 5km, with areas still to be explored.
This amazing dimension makes the cave capable of sustaining an independent ecosystem, with its own habitats and niches to support myriad types of flora and fauna. The river system of the cave has beaches of surreal beauty, the kind that we read about only in tales.
The origin of the cave is traced back to the erosional activity of the Rao Thuong River, which easily carved the limestone of the surrounding Annamite Mountains to form these beautiful caves.
Another treat is for fossil-diggers because the floors are literally overflowing with many such specimens! The archaic stalactites stand tall, supporting the cave structure and keeping card on this underground utopia. They stand guard to protect some of the rarest rock specimens of the world, preventing the ill-use of such rocks.
As stated earlier, much of the cave system is still an untouched domain, with exploratory activities under progress. All these years, Deer Cave in Malaysia had enjoyed the privilege of being the largest cave in the world, until this cave system took over the position. With a weight of 38.5 million cubic meters for volume, the Son Doong cave system beats it’s competitor by a wide margin.
So, this cave system is one of the finest architecture of Nature one will come across, and the presence of such virgin locations give hope to travellers and adventure-seekers that there is still unmapped territory left on Earth, just waiting to be uncovered!