The world’s known largest cave, Hang Son Doong (Mountain River Cave) in Vietnam is five times the size of the second largest cave, Deer Cave in Malaysia. Hang Son Doong is in the Quang Binh province in the heart of Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park.
It’s a relatively “new” cave having only been open to the public for a year. It lay under the Annamite Mountains, and was formed by river-water induced erosions on the mountains limestone about 2.5 million years ago. While Hang Son Doong was discovered in 1991, it wasn’t until 2009 before the British Cave Research Association would explore it.
Over 200 feet high, 5.6 miles (9 kilometers) in length, Hang Son Doong houses some of the biggest stalagmites 229 feet (70 meters) high—the equivalent of a 20-story building. Plant life is able to grow due to the cave’s two dolines (sinkholes that have formed into natural skylights). Hang Son Doong is so large that it seems like it’s of its own rainforest ecosystem within, with its own microclimate. There is even a large river, hills, cliffs, stream—it is truly like its own abyssal underground world.
Photographer Ryan Deboodt used a drone (DJI Phantom 2 quadropter) carrying a GoPro Hero 4 Black, and a Canon 6D camera to attain special footage for Oxalis , the adventure tour company set to introduce it to the public via guided tours. DJI Phantom 2 is the first aerial filmmaking system. Easy to fly with remote controls, this was the only way to get such views of Hang Son Doong since a helicopter would be impossible to fly through. Its entrance isn’t very big.
Near the entrance of the Hang Son Doong, visitors must descend 262 feet (80 meters) down a steep wall with the help of harnesses and ropes. This is also where the cool air inside meets the hot outside forming rising mists. The temperature difference causes so much mist that the environment is atmospheric, and surreal.
Deboodt says of Hang Son Doong, “incredibly difficult to put into words how amazing Hang Son Doong really is… It is truly otherworldly and something that probably can’t be experienced anywhere else in the world.” See the amazing aerial video footage of this otherworldly world here and see if you agree.