A subterranean paradise: Russian travelers capture drone footage of world's largest cavern.
A small team of Russian travelers recently managed to acquire drone footage of the Son Doong Cave - the largest known natural cave in the world. Nestled in the emerald rainforests of central Vietnam, the Son Doong cave is one of the most pristine natural formations in the world. First discovered by a local Vietnamese logger named Ho Khanh in 1991, the exact location of this natural wonder was lost to the world until its rediscovery by British explorers led by Howard Limbert in 2009.
Formed over 2 million years ago from a cave-in caused by a mountain river, the massive Son Doong cave stretches over 5 kilometers in length and boasts a massive size of 150 meters by 200 meters. An entire city block could easily fit in its cavernous depths. With an estimated volume of 38.5 million cubic meters, this gargantuan cave is twice the size of the Malaysian Deer Cave - now the second largest cave - effectively dethroning the latter as the largest cave in the world.
Only opened to the public in 2013, entry to the Son Doong cave is limited and extremely pricey, with tickets reaching well over a several thousand U.S. Dollars. Despite the astronomical price tag, tours are sold out within hours.
Only approximately 2000 visitors have ever set foot in this cave, and even fewer have filmed it, especially with the aid of a drone. Immaculate and untainted by human presence, the Son Doong cave was a natural reserve waiting to be explored.
With such a strict regulation on admissions, the Russian team of travelers spent a year applying for permits to explore Son Doong Cave. Their excursion, after it was finally approved, spanned well over four continuous days of strenuous climbs. For their efforts, the team was rewarded with picturesque sights untouched by man for millennia: elephantine stalagmites, crystal streams, and even a subterranean forest.
Ernest Rudyak, one member of the Russian team notes in his video diary: “It’s peaceful here, you feel completely detached and free. This is what you call a reset. It is a sanctuary, a lost world below the surface - a unique ecosystem.” The footage taken by the team can be seen below.
Despite its status as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2003, attempts have been made by the government to capitalize on the natural beauty that is the Son Doong Cave. Plans have been made to establish a cable car route through the cave, which will disrupt the natural beauty of the cave. Environmentalist protests in the year 2014 disrupted original plans for construction, but the initial $200 million plan still remains.
While a cable car system would allow more visitors to the cave, the introduction of a mechanical system into the cave system will definitely disrupt the natural beauty of Son Doong Cave. If the pristine status of this jewel is to be preserved, the Vietnamese government must forfeit potential federal revenue in favor of natural wealth. While plans are currently on hold, the future of this natural beauty still remains to be seen.
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