There are two types of spelunking trips: the ones where you reach the end of the cave and the ones where there’s absolutely no way. Both are great adventures, with awesome natural underground architecture, but there’s something mysterious and magical about the latter kind of trip. Your mind starts to wander and you wonder just how deep the caves reach and if anybody has ever gone that far.
Then there are the caves that extend much deeper, too dangerous to be destinations for public recreation. How far do they go? How much of them have been explored already? While these questions are still for the most part unanswered, more and more expeditions are giving us more and more clues.
Here are 6 of the deepest caves (we know of) on the planet:
Cehi 2, Slovenia
When Italian alpinists mapped Cehi 2, Slovenia’s deepest cave, they managed to go as deep as 4,928 feet—and it goes farther than that. That’s just about the combined height of 822 6-foot tall people or more than twice the height of the tallest man-made structure.
Located in Georgie in the Caucasus range, there’s potential that Sarma is the deepest cave in the world. But as of now, we only know that it’s more than 5,062 feet deep. That said, researchers continue to explore and discover more and more of this incredible underground wonder.
Krubera-Voronja Cave, Georgia
The Krubera-Voronja is the deepest known cave in the world. Located relatively near to the Sarma underneath the mountain ranges of Georgia, it has a total depth of 7,188 feet. It’s the first cave to be explored more than 2km down and it’s the only known cave deeper than 2km.
The Illuzia-Snezhnaja-Mezhonnogo is much bigger than the Krubera-Voronja, but not as deep. Also located in the Western Caucasus of Georgia, it’s actually a cave system made up of two caves: the Illuzia (Illusion) and the Snezhnaja (Snowy) that together extend 5,751 feet down.
Gouffre Mirolda, France
The Gouffre Mirolda once held the record for the world’s deepest cave. An expedition in 2003 showed it was connected to the Lucien Coudlier, measuring 5,685 feet down. It was the first cave to be explored more than 1km down, another record which has also since been beaten.
Vogelshacht and Lamprechtsofen, Austria
Two caves, the Vogelshacht and the Lamprechtsofen, make up this cave system. Though it’s still being explored, it’s known that it currently reaches a known 5,354 feet down. But it could very well be much, much deeper, since there’s no bottom of the cave in sight.