Thanks to Sandra in Mulu and our colleagues at Fieldskills for this great shot of the famous Deer Cave in Mulu National Park in Malaysia’s Sarawak State. Now whether it’s still the world’s largest cave is a subject of hot debate and all depends upon what type of cave one’s talking about anyway, but it is certainly one of the largest known at present. Nearby Sarawak Chamber, (also in Mulu), discovered in 1981 is generally accepted as the largest single cave/chamber and is calculated to be able to hold 70 Boeing 747s without their wings overlapping – 3 times larger than the previous claimant in New Mexico.
Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave is also a regular contender – particularly in the largest cave system category though this fascinating history of Mammoth Cave, (well worth a read), also rates it as #1 in the world’s largest haunted place ratings!? Good stuff!
A new entry in the list is the recently discovered, in 2007, (well re-discovered since apparently it was used as a shelter during US bombings and then forgotten about), Hang Ken Cave in Vietnam. If I’ve understood correctly Hang Ken, (I’m sure he deserved it!), is competing in the world’s longest single cave comp. though not the longest single walk-through cavern as per Deer Cave, since the Vietnamese one entails climbing whilst Deer Cave is a stroll along a path. If this is getting confusing then forget it and check out these Nat Geo pix from Vietnam.
Also very interesting is this site from the Mulu Caves Project containing accounts of the expeditions to explore several of Mulu’s caves with plenty of details, maps and photos. Explorations are still on-going and new chambers, tunnels and indeed entire systems are still being discovered or awaiting discovery. Several of the areas’ vast underground labyrinths; Clearwater, Blackrock, Whiterock etc may even eventually prove to be interconnected which would blow any current rivals away though I believe a lot of Hang Ken remains to be explored as well!
The limestone terrain of much of S. E. Asia – from Southern China right down into Malaysia and Borneo – means Karst scenery and associated caves are common throughout Laos, Thailand and peninsular Malaysia as well and many fascinating cave visits are included in our various S. E. Asia tours. More of that in a seperate blog but for now suffice to say that a hike through the whole length of the enormous Deer Cave is a popular part of our Sarawak and Borneo tours. The far end of the cave emerges into an almost otherwise inaccessible area of pristine jungle known as the Garden of Eden so our one day expedition takes in the ‘Garden’ before returning to the cave’s mouth in time to see the dusk spectacle of the 6 or 7 million bats, for whom the cave is home, all flying out in huge clouds. (They consume several tons of mozzies and insects per day – can’t remember exactly but our local guides will tell you.) A spectacular sight!!