Some rocks weather in time, causing them to break and leave voids and treacherous crevices, extending down into the depths of the Earth. While this sounds ominous, it is most likely how many of today’s caves were born. Some of the results of this process, though, are truly terrifying. This bottomless pit in Ellison’s Cave is something else. It is not bottomless, per se. But if you plan on throwing a rock and waiting for it to reach the bottom, you might want to consider setting up camp.
Ellison’s Cave (which extends vertically for 1063 feet) is actually dotted with more than one pit. The big daddy of them all, suitably named “Fantastic,” is estimated to stretch down 586 feet. That’s about half the height of the Empire State Building, around 51 stories. The hole is deep dark space, filled with meandering offshoots and alien-like subterranean creatures, making it a perilous spelunking site. Ellison’s is the 12th deepest cave in North America, but the Fantastic pit takes the top prize as the deepest unobstructed pit on the continent.
Dark Blue Holes
Many people entertain the false belief that, to have a shot at cave exploration, they would first have to climb mountains or trek through forests and ranges. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Some caves require diving into the ocean, too.
There are many underwater caves all over the world, but the Bahamas has the highest number of them. Like caves found on dry land, underwater caves are defined by their dark orifices. The darker its shade, the deeper it plunges. The substrata of the caves trap the incoming light, causing the waters to appear a darker shade of blue. It is a sight to behold from above, especially now, in the day and age of drones.
The Largest Cave in the World
The Sơn Đoòng Cave in Vietnam is the largest known cave in the world to date by volume. This massive cavern is full of countless wonders including its own weather systems, ecosystems, and geological formations. It's believed to be around 2-5 million years old.
Sơn Đoòng means 'cave of the mountain river' in Vietnamese, after its internal, fast-flowing underground river.
Greece is known for its rich history, beautiful scenery, and high ridges with white plastered houses lined atop. While many think most of the food when planning their Greek getaways, caving is also a popular reason to travel there. Some of Greece’s caves are nestled on the country’s pristine mountaintops, whereas others are to be found submerged beneath the crystalline blue waters of its coastline. With both representing a stunning adventure, your next trip to Greece might just have to involve a mix of both.
The Melissani is a cave one can climb up to and, once inside, spelunk down to find a limpid, peaceful lake running through it. It is named after the island it’s located on, and tourists love to go there to explore the place via kayak or canoe. It’s an adventurer’s hidden paradise.
Stalactites - A Natural Wonder
Stalactites are among the very first things that catch your attention whenever stepping inside a cave. They feel like long needles, reaching down from the cave’s ceiling, ready to thrust into you at any minute. They are also beautiful to look at, majestic, like the natural pillars of an ancient, subterranean kingdom.
These natural wonders are gradually formed by sediment-heavy water dripping from the ceiling of the cave. As you might expect from something formed by slow drips, they aren’t the quickest of growers. It can take up to 1,000 years for a stalactite to grow just four inches (the length of a smartphone… or a Baja spider!). Speleothems are the most common type of stalactite in the world, due to the abundance of limestone in caves. The longest stalactites on Earth can be found in Jeita Grotto in Lebanon, measuring up to 27 feet in length.