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Cave tourism: An emerging trend
Whether you are in India or Vietnam or Europe or America or somewhere in between, the underground caves are always worthy additions to any vacation.

Caving traditionally is a recreational pastime of exploring wild cave systems. Today cave tourism is associated with exploring wild cave systems and also caves that have been carved out by men and have historical significance.

Caving is also called as 'spelunking'. Adventure enthusiasts, eco-tourists and fearless curiosity seekers can be found exploring the cramped, lightless corners of the underground world. Exploring wild cave systems has some challenges involved which can vary. There is total absence of light beyond the entrance and often include negotiation of pitches, squeezes and water hazards.

Some of the most famous caves have become hot tourist spots and offer a complete path with handrails, lights that illuminate the interesting formations and fossils. Different caves offer different levels of accessibility. This means that the travellers can choose their cave destination based on their tolerance for adventure and their willingness to crawl through the tight spaces.

Following are some of the world's most incredible caves:

1. Blue Grotto, Italy

Blue Grotto Italy

The Blue Grotto is a sea cave on the coast of the island of Capri in southern Italy. It is well known to all tourists visiting this area. The cave is unique for its brilliant blue glow which comes from the two sources – entrance to the caves and a bigger whole beneath the entrance. One can enter the caves only using a small row boat. When viewed from inside the cave, the entrance appears as a brilliant white light just above the waterline, while the underwater hole, which is larger source of light, provides a blue glow.

2. Krubera Cave, Georgia

Krubera Cave Georgia

Krubera Cave was found in 1960 and is considered to be the deepest known cave on Earth. Its depth is over 2,000 metres and the cave is also known as Voronia cave which means 'the cave of the crows' in Russian language. This name is used as a number of crows are found nesting at the entrance of the caves. The original name was given after a noted Russian geographer – Alexander Kruber.

3. Cave of the Crystals in Chihuahua, Mexico 

Cave of Crystal Mexico

Miners had discovered the Cave of Swords located directly above the Cave of Crystals in the year 1910. The crystals here are much smaller than seen in the Cave of the Crystals. The Cave of the Crystals was discovered in year 2000 and contains largest natural selenite crystals ever found. The biggest crystal ever found here measured 12 metres in length and 4 metres in diameter. The average temperature in these caves is found to be around 50-58 degree Celsius. Due to extreme heat, the scientists and researchers with proper gear can stay here for only 30-45 minutes. An interesting fact about these caves is that the caves became accessible because of pumping operation of a mining company that was working in the nearby mine. Once the mine stopped operations in 2017, the cave has been re-flooded.

4. Eisriesenwelt Ice Cave in Werfen, Austria

Eisriesenwelt Ice Cave in Werfen Austria

Eisriesenwelt Ice Cave is a natural limestone ice cave, the largest of its kind. The cave extends 42 km into the Earth. Even though the cave is massive, only the first kilometre of the cave is covered in ice and is open to tourists. The rest of the cave is just made up of limestone. The oldest layer of ice in the cave is believed to be dating back 1,000 years. The cave was formed by Salzach River which slowly eroded passageways in the mountains.

5. Phong Nha Cave, Vietnam

Phong Nha Cave Vietnam

Phong Nha cave is located in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park of Vietnam, and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The cave is 7,729 metres long and contains 14 grottoes as well as a 13,969 metre underground river. The park has nearly 300 caves, though only a few of the caves have been surveyed in detail. The limestone rocks are interspersed with other types of rock, making this an interesting place for anyone with knowledge of geology. Only the first mile or so of the Phong Nha's tunnel is accessible for tourists. Phong Nha has been voted as one of the most wonderful caves in the world for a number of reasons: for its longest underground river, for its most beautiful underground lake, for its highest and widest entrance, for its most beautiful and widest dry cave, for its most beautiful sandbank and reef, as well as for its most spectacular stalactites, stalagmites and longest water grottos.

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