Kartchner Caverns – Arizona, USA
Located in Arizona State Park, this show cave with 2.4 miles of passages was discovered by local cavers in 1974. Long hidden from view, the caves are carved out from limestone and filled with peleothems, which has been growing for more than 50,000 years. Tours of the caves open to the public include the Throne Room, where you can find the world’s longest soda straw stalactites at 6.54 m and the Kublai Khan, a 58-foot high column named after the poem. It also includes the Big Room, which consists of the most extensive formation of brushite moonmilk in the world as it’s a nursery roost for more than 1,000 cave bats. Other caverns that can be accessed by the public include the Cul-de-sac Passage, Mud Flats, Strawberry Room, and the Rotunda Room.
Cango Caves – Western Cape, South Africa
Situated in the Precambrian limestones at the foothills of Swartberg range in the Western Cape, South Africa, it is one of the country’s finest sites for cave exploration and attracts a number of foreign visitors. The caverns are composed of an extensive system of tunnels and chambers that go on for nearly 4 km, though only a quarter of those are open to the public. Some of the tours conducted by guides are the ‘Standard Tour,’ which can take an hour; while an ‘Adventure Tour’ can take an hour and half as you crawl through narrow passages and climb over steep rocks guided only by small flickering lights.
Harrison’s Cave – Allen View, Barbados
Named after Thomas Harrison, who owned the area in the early 1700’s, Harrison Cave was rediscovered in 1974 by Ole Sorensen, an engineer and cave adventure enthusiast from Denmark. It was later developed by the government of Barbados as a show cave and attraction. The caves, which were opened to the public in 1981, are formed naturally through water erosion via the limestone rock. The guided tour usually starts at “The Great Hall,” a huge cavern 100 ft in height; and is followed by a stop at “The Village,” where formations have joined to form columns after thousands of years.
Carlsbad Caverns – New Mexico, USA
Located in the Guadalupe Mountains of New Mexico, this is a show cave that is open all throughout the year except Christmas. To reach it, you can either hike a steep spiral trail that leads you to the mouth of the cave or take an elevator at the visitor center. It includes a large cave chamber named the ‘Big Room,’ a natural limestone formation that is almost 4,000 ft long, 625 ft wide, and 255 ft at its highest point. This is considered the 3rd largest chamber in North America and the 7th in the world.
Mammoth Cave – Kentucky, USA
Part of the US National Park in central Kentucky, the Mammoth Cave has the longest cave system in the world called the Mammoth-Flint Ridge Cave System with over 365 miles of subterranean passageways. Established as a national park on July 1, 1941, it also became a UNESCO World Heritage Site (1981) and an International Biosphere Reserve (1990). Other spectacular sights to see include the giant sinkhole aptly named ‘Cedar Sink,’ and the ‘Frozen Niagara.’