Sometimes, it pays to travel below the earth’s surface.
Virgin cave systems comprise some of the last unexplored regions on our planet. Late last year, for the first time ever, a group of cavers photographed a cave in China that’s so vast it even has its own weather system.
But for those who deem caving — or spelunking — a little too adventurous, camera-wielding cavers have captured the beauty of the earth’s interior.
Here are 12 of the most breathtaking caves in the world.
Some of the most interesting caves in the world are the Crystal Caves of Naica, in Mexico, which were discovered in 2000. The immense crystals are believed to have grown for about 500,000 years due to the chamber's unique conditions.
In Thailand's Phraya Nakon Cave is a pavilion built by King Chulalongkorn in 1890. It's roughly 200 miles south of Bangkok, and one of the most photographed caves in the world.
Near China's city of Guilin is the 180 million-year-old Reed Flute Cave. The water-eroded limestone cave was a tourist attraction even in ancient times, and is today lit up by brilliant neon lights.
France's Lascaux Caves are famous for their paleolithic-era paintings, which were preserved by calcite crystals and are estimated to be 17,300 years old. The caves were added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1979.
The Orda Cave in Russia's Ural Mountains is the biggest underwater gypsum crystal cave in the world, with water temperatures that can reach less than −9 °F. The gypsum filters the water, which is why it's so transparent.
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