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World’s largest cave to open for first public tours

Vietnam’s Son Doong cave, which is over 5.5 miles long and could fit a 40-story skyscraper inside its walls, was first explored by British cavers in 2009. Now, thanks to the tour company Oxalis, which has exclusive permission to run tours inside, will give the public a look at the wonders inside.

When a local man discovered the entrance to Vietnam’s Son Doong cave in 1991, it appeared infinite. He feared the giant precipice that descended nearly 300 feet below him. For 18 more years, the cave remained unexplored. Then, in 2009, two British cavers dropped into Son Doong and discovered the largest cave on Earth.

The Son Doong is over 5.5 miles long and could fit a 40-story skyscraper within its walls. It contains giant stalactites, waterfalls and a jungle that is known as the Garden of Edam with native animals like flying foxes, monkeys and hornbills thriving inside the cavern’s lush landscape.

Now, for the first time in history, the cave will be open to the public. A tour company called Oxalisexternal-link Worlds largest cave to open for first public tours is running trial tours of the cave and accepting sign-ups for real six-day tours to take place next year.

Tourists will trek the stunning cavern by day and sleep on the cave’s sandy beaches at night. On their first night inside the cave, visitors will camp near Hand of Dog, a giant stalagmite that looks like a dog’s paw. The cave contains two underground sinkholes with cliffs as high as 800 feet and a “Great Wall of Vietnam” that is over 15 stories high. Fields of algae from ancient pools blanket sections of the cave’s interior and rare pearls of calcite crystals coat the cave walls.

Take a look through these photos and transport yourself into the seemingly infinite Son Doong cave:

Cave Jungle The roof of Son Doong collapsed centuries ago. The sunlight and fresh air allowed a lush jungle to take root inside the cave. Here, an Australian named Ben Mitchell marvels at the landscape.

Cave Jungle
The roof of Son Doong collapsed centuries ago. The sunlight and fresh air allowed a lush jungle to take root inside the cave. Here, an Australian named Ben Mitchell marvels at the landscape.

Plant Life in Cave The giant cave contains two "daylight windows," which allow light to enter many parts of the cave. At the base of these windows are large jungles which use all the available light to nourish trees that grow almost 10 stories tall.

Plant Life in Cave
The giant cave contains two “daylight windows,” which allow light to enter many parts of the cave. At the base of these windows are large jungles which use all the available light to nourish trees that grow almost 10 stories tall.

Stunning Stone Giant stalagmites over 250 feet high and enormous rimstone pools are present throughout the cave.

Stunning Stone
Giant stalagmites over 250 feet high and enormous rimstone pools are present throughout the cave.

Hope and Vision Passage A half-mile block of 40-story buildings could fit inside the largest part of the cave, which may be the world's biggest subterranean passage.

Hope and Vision Passage
A half-mile block of 40-story buildings could fit inside the largest part of the cave, which may be the world’s biggest subterranean passage.

Sleeping Among the Stalagmites On their first night inside the cave, visitors camp near Hand of Dog, a massive stalagmite that looks like a dog's paw.

Sleeping Among the Stalagmites
On their first night inside the cave, visitors camp near Hand of Dog, a massive stalagmite that looks like a dog’s paw.

River Cave An entire river runs inside the cave. Scientists have discovered never-before-seen plant species around Son Doong's waterfalls.

River Cave
An entire river runs inside the cave. Scientists have discovered never-before-seen plant species around Son Doong’s waterfalls.

Cave Pearls Rare cave pearls fill dried-out terrace pools inside Son Doong. They formed drip by drip over the centuries as calcite crystals left behind by water layered themselves around grains of sand.

Cave Pearls
Rare cave pearls fill dried-out terrace pools inside Son Doong. They formed drip by drip over the centuries as calcite crystals left behind by water layered themselves around grains of sand.

Conquering an Infinite Drop The man who discovered Son Doong never fully entered the cave because he feared its steep drop into what appeared to be an abyss

Conquering an Infinite Drop
The man who discovered Son Doong never fully entered the cave because he feared its steep drop into what appeared to be an abyss

Fall Floods From September to January is flooding season in the region, so there are no tours while the cave weathers the rainy season.

Fall Floods
From September to January is flooding season in the region, so there are no tours while the cave weathers the rainy season.

Source: Foxnews



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