- Ice Cave Near The Mutnovsky Volcano, Russia - Ice caves like these form in the glaciers surrounding the Mutnovsky Volcano in Russia. Some of them are formed by vents that release volcanic heat and gases called fumaroles. (photo by Florian Wizorek)
- Glowworms Cave, New Zealand - The Waitomo glowworm caves are home to a unique insect – the glowworm. These insects hang glistening silken strands from the ceiling of the cave and glow to attract unsuspecting prey. (photo by waitomo.com)
- Son Doong Cave, Vietnam - This is the largest currently known cave in the world. It is filled with countless wonders including isolated ecosystems, weather systems and geological formations. (photo by National Geographic)
- Batu Caves, Malaysia - These caves have been used by English and Chinese settlers as well as the indigenous Temuan people. The bat guano in the cave was mined for agricultural purposes, but now the cave is filled with statues and is open to visitors. (photo by Danny Xeero)
- Marble Caves, Patagonia - Theses caves are known for the spectacular reflections that the turquoise water casts on the white marble ceiling of the cave. They are also called the Marble Cathedral because of their beautiful and arching forms. (photo by kellywhite)
- Phraya Nakhon Cave, Thailand - This cave was historically a popular visiting place for local kings because of the illumination provided by the collapsed roofs. The pavilion in the center was built for the visit of King Chulalongkorn in 1890. (photo by Wasitpol Unchanakorrakit)
- Ellison’s Cave, United States - This photograph is of the Fantastic Cave pit, part of Ellison’s Cave in the state of Georgia. It is a popular attraction for pit cavers – those who enjoy rappelling down vertical subterranean drops. (photo by secondglobe.com)
- Vatnajokull Glacier Cave, Iceland - This cave is located in the largest glacier in Europe. Caves like these form due to melting glacial icewater, but they can be dangerous because glaciers are constantly breaking and changing. (photo by Einar Runar Sigurdson)
- Cave in Algarve, Portugal - Due to its location, the cave is prone to various seaside formations because of the rock face’s relative solubility in water. This specific cave near Lagos is accessible only by water. (photo by Bruno Carlos)
- Reed Flute Cave, China - The Reed Flute Cave in Guangxi, China has been visited by tourists for at least 1200 years. The cave is home to a spectacular array of stalagmites and stalactites. It is named for the reeds that grow at its mouth, which can be made into flutes. (photo by Pasquale di Pilato)
Cenotes are natural pits or sinkholes resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath. Especially associated with the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico, cenotes were used by the ancient Maya for sacrificial offerings. The term derives from a word used by the low-land Yucatec Maya, “Ts’onot” to refer to any location with accessible groundwater. There are an estimated 7,000 cenotes in the Yucatán Peninsula.
Cenote water is often very clear, as the water comes from rain water filtering slowly through the ground, and therefore contains very little suspended particulate matter. The groundwater flow rate within a cenote may be very slow. In many cases, cenotes are areas where sections of cave roof have collapsed revealing an underlying cave system, and the water flow rates may be much faster: up to 6 miles (10 km) per day. Cenotes around the world attract cave divers who have documented extensive flooded cave systems through them, some of which have been explored for lengths of 62 miles (100 km) or more.
The Škocjan Caves - A Unique Natural Phenomena
An ancient cave system considered one of the largest discovered underground chambers with the most famous underground features in the world.
Due to their exceptional significance, the Škocjan Caves in Slovenia were entered on UNESCO’s list of natural and cultural world heritage sites in 1986. International scientific circles have acknowledged the importance of the Caves as one of the natural treasures of the planet.
The Škocjan Caves are a unique natural phenomenon ranking among the most important caves in the world. They represent the most significant underground phenomena in both the Karst region and Slovenia. Above the caves lies the village of Škocjan, now famous for its archaeological treasure below.
Research has shown that people have lived in the caves and the surrounding area in prehistoric times up to the present – totaling more than 5,000 years of history. The first written sources on the Škocjan Caves date back as early as the 2nd century B.C. and were marked on the oldest published maps of that part of the world.
Nearly 100 years after the discovery of Dead Lake within the cave system, the last important event took place in 1990 when Slovenian divers discovered over 200 meters of new cave passages. It is still believed there is even more to be discovered in the extraordinary
Dining in a Cave
In the sea-side town of Polignano a Mare in southern Italy lies a most unique dining experience in a rare architectural setting, a restaurant built inside a cave. The Grotta Palazzese restaurant was created inside a vaulted limestone cave that looks outward towards the ocean and is only open during the summer months.
Melissani Cave, Greece
This amazing cave was first discovered in 1951 and was opened for the public in 1963. Melissani Cave is located on the east coast of the island of Kefalonia in Greece. The cave has two large, water filled halls with an island in the middle. The first hall has a big oval opening to the surface where the sunlight streams in, illuminating its stunning natural beauty. The second is a huge cavern with an arched roof featuring numerous stalactites and stalagmites.The entire length of the cave is 100 meters. The best time to visit the cave is in the middle of a bright sunny day. Tours are done by boats that take you on a tour through both halls of the breathtaking cave.
Underwater Secrets of the Ancient Maya
Ancient Maya believed that the rain god Chaak resided in caves and natural wells called cenotes. Maya farmers today in Mexico’s parched Yucatán still appeal to Chaak for the gift of rain, Meanwhile cenotes are giving archaeologists new insights into the sacred landscapes of the ancestral Maya.
In ancient times, the natural well, or cenote, acted as a sacred sundial and timekeeper for the ancient Maya on the two days of the year, May 23 and July 19, when the sun reaches its zenith. At that moment it is vertically overhead, and no shadow is cast. The fact that the cenote is directly northwest of the main staircase of El Castillo, the famous central pyramid of Chichén Itzá, is not coincidental. The ancient Maya came here during times of drought to deliver offerings and to give thanks for a plentiful harvest. The Maya people have a strong relation to their gods, their sacred city and their extraordinarily accurate calendar.
(Source: National Geographic)