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The worlds most interesting underground adventure spots

  • Jul 16, 2015

It's a welcomed sight to see your watch altimeter readings change as you scale a mountain, but things get especially interesting when you're traveling underground.

Caving - also known as spelunking in the U.S. and Canada and potholing in the U.K. - is a beloved past time for numerous nature enthusiasts, but that doesn't mean every adventurer has the warmest ideas about it. The boundless majesty of the great outdoors is better observed from a mountaintop or rolling hillside, right?

You may not see the appeal now, but get ready to change your mind. Caves have some of the most intriguing natural sights a hiker can view in the wilderness.

Here are a few examples.

Cueva de los Cristales - Mexico
The fortress of solitude exists, and it's tucked into a secluded part of northern Mexico that's famous for its crystals. In this underground cavern, cave explorers crawl around enormous purple and white crystals - some stretching 30 feet long, according to National Geographic. The caves crystals might be around 500,000 years old, but Cueva de los Cristales was actually discovered not long ago. Two brothers discovered the cave in 2000 while drilling some 1,000 feet below ground.

Check your watch thermometer while you explore, and you'll find that temperatures in the cave crest around 112 degrees, and it's humid to boot. It's well worth suffering through the heat to see this geological oddity, however. Just make sure you're prepared for it.

Beneath the Mendenhall Glacier - Alaska
If you prefer colder temperatures and icy, vibrant blue colors to the whites and purples of crystals, you should look into a trip beneath the Mendenhall Glacier. Pictures of this beautifully alien cavern paint it as a must-see destination in the U.S. However, seeing it comes at a cost.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, getting to this cave is no easy feat. Getting to one of the several cave entrances requires six to eight hours of hiking over slippery ice in freezing temperatures. Traveling over the glacier is particularly tricky as well, as adventurers must dodge crevasses, navigate over slopes and travel over terrain that could move and shift at any time.

Explorers aren't out of the woods upon arrival either. The USDA Forest Service warns that ice caves can collapse at any time, and the entrances to the Mendenhall Glacier caves are particularly at risk because of their narrow structure.

All things considered, it's a trip reserved only for accomplished explorers with experience traveling over glaciers and using tools like crampons, ice axes and rescue gear.

Hang Son Doong - Vietnam
Waterfalls, jungles, 200-foot rock walls, towering stalagmites and a cavern ceiling so high you can sometimes spot clouds forming above - welcome to Hang Son Doong, the world's largest cave. There's no end to the extraordinary views explorers can find, so don't mistake this destination for a good place for a day trip. It takes cavers a matter of days to get to some areas of Hang Son Doong.

It's hard to describe every inch of this enormous cavern or to even put its great size into perspective. It's a "you have to see it to believe it" scenario. Luckily, adventurer and photographer Ryan Deboodt can help you visualize it without planning a big trip. Although, you might choose to book some tickets after seeing this.

Deboodt puts viewers on the back of a remote controlled drone in this 6-minute exploration of the world's largest cave.

Exploring deep into caves sounds like a great adventure but only if you are prepared and have the right tools. The PRG300-1A2 is one of those great tools that you will need. Design features include a compact, sleek case and soft urethane band for a better fit to the wrist. One-touch access to digital compass, barometric pressure/altitude, and temperature readings keep important information at your fingertips. Everything about these models is designed and engineered to make them essential pieces of outdoor gear.