So’n Doong Cave (Mountain River Cave in Vietnamese), is the biggest known cave in the world, by volume. It is located near the Laos-Vietnam border.
So’n Doong Cave was discovered by a local man (when he was a teenager) in 1991. The whistling sound of wind and roar of a fiery stream, in the cave, heard through the entrance as well as the steep descent, prevented him from entering the cave. It is not that easy to find this cave in the rugged terrain of Ke Bang jungle ——— contrary to several other cave entrances in this region. So’n Doong Cave starts as a comparatively small hole. Ho-Khanh did not enter the cave —– it was too steep and the prospect of falling into roaring darkness was not too attractive to him.
Only in 2009 did the cave become internationally known, after a group of scientists from the British Cave Research Association, led by Howard and Deb Limbert, conducted a survey from 10-14 April, 2009. Their progress was stopped by a large 60m high calcite wall, which was name THE GREAT WALL OF VIETNAM. It was traversed in 2010, when the group reached the end of the cave passage. The Great Wall Of Vietnam is a steep, muddy and slippery wall.
This cave is one of the great natural wonders of the world. According to the Limberts, the cave is 5 times larger than Phong Nha Cave, a nearby cave, previously considered the biggest cave in Vietnam. The biggest chamber of So’n Doong is more than 5kms long, 200m high and 150m wide. Due to these dimensions, So’n Doong overtook DEER CAVE, in Malaysia, in 2009, to take the title of the World’s Largest Cave. The cave contains some of the tallest known “stalagmites”, in the world, which are up to 70m tall.
The most amazing feature of So’n Doong Cave is an enormous, giant passage in the central part. In most places, it is at least 80m wide and 80m high and there is a long section where it is wider and taller than 140m. The cave has its own climate and often there are clouds inside. So’n Doong Cave has 2 major openings in the ceiling ———SINKHOLES. One is called WATCH OUT FOR DINOSAURS (because of the environment). Here there is a very tall waterfall. The other ‘sinkhole, which is covered with lush jungle, is called GARDEN OF EDAM (ironic reference to the beautiful GARDEN OF EDEN, in Sarawak, Malaysia). The “stalagmites” may be the tallest in the world ——- one such giant, here, is called HAND OF DOG, as it resembles a dog’s paw.
The So’n Doong Cave has formed in “fault zone”, where a river was captured for example its stream went underground. Analysis of sediments show that the cave was formed at least 2 million years ago. Behind the Great Wall of Vietnam were found CAVE PEARLS, the size of grapefruits. These “pearls” were created by dripping water and their giant size could be explained by the big distance of water falling from the tall ceiling.
Sounds like a perfect place to develop tourism !!!! At the same time, the cave environment is ver fragile. So’n Doong Cave is that UNIQUE, that it would be a huge loss if this “fragile beauty” would be lost forever. Authorities, in Vietnam, seem to be indecisive about the development of tourism here. In 2013, the first tourist group explored the cave, on a guided tour at a cost of US $3000 each. Future exploration trips are planned.