Vietnam’s Son Doong Cave stretches for more than 5 km (3.1 miles) in length, 200 meters (660 ft) in height, and is over 150 meters (490 ft) wide. Those dimensions are enough to put it amongst the larges caves in the entire world, although unless you make the journey to visit it yourself, it is hard to put those numbers into perspective. Fortunately, National Geographic is here to help.
Recently, Nat Geo posted an online project that allows us to explore Son Doong ourselves, without having to make the arduous journey to the remote section of the Vietnamese-Laos border. In fact, you don’t even have to leave your comfortable chair.
The virtual cave expedition starts at the entrance to Son Doong, but soon drops under the Earth into the depths of its subterranean chambers. The experience comes complete with 360º panoramic views, ambient sounds, and a host of facts and information about the site. Visitors to the website can use their mouse, trackpad, or keyboard to pan around the room in all directions, viewing the cave chambers in detail, and even zooming in to examine the site more closely. The 500-megapixel photos offer stunning resolutions, making the experience that much more realistic.
All told, there are about 10 individual regions of the massive cave than can be explored in this manner, taking us to the depths of the Earth to give us a glimpse of this magnificent cave system. But, if exploring Son Doong virtually simply isn’t enough for you, there are options to actually go into it yourself and spend some time trekking through, and camping in, its stone halls.
Most of us will probably have to be content with using Nat Geo’s virtual Son Doong Cave to get our views of the place. It is a pretty compelling use of technology that gives us a chance to see what it is like there. While you’re wandering through the online version of the cave, see if you can spot the base camp for the team that took these images. It can be found in one of the chambers, and it truly helps to give the place a sense of scale.
This is very cool stuff.