You\u2019ve been considered to be\na serious speleologist for decades, and you\u2019ve decided you\u2019re ready to take on\na new challenge. New depths, new waterfalls, new deep pools, new sheer faces.\nJust the thought gets your adrenaline pounding and your heart racing. You\u2019re\nalready packing your gear, getting ready for this next adventure.\n\n\n\nThe 7 most dangerous caves in\nthe world. As you begin to plan your next excursion, here, in alphabetical\norder, are seven of the most dangerous caves for the extremely\nexperienced caver:\n\n\n\nChile\u2019s Tyndall\nGlacierMexico\u2019s\nNaica MineNorway\u2019s\nPlura CavePhilippines\u2019\nPuerto Princesa Underground RiverSwitzerland\u2019s\nGorner GlacierUzbekistan\u2019s\nDark Star CaveYucatan\u2019s\nCenotes\n\n\n\nExpert cavers will tell you\nthat any cave can be dangerous and needs to be explored with respect. Let\u2019s\nlearn more about what makes these caves particularly dangerous. Don\u2019t worry;\nwe\u2019ll also get into some not-so-dangerous caves that are great for beginners.\nBut first, onto the danger!\n\n\n\nSeven of the Most Dangerous Caves Around the World\n\n\n\nThese caves are not for the casual spelunker or\nnewly-initiated caver. These are serious excursions that require serious planning\nand should be undertaken by the prepared and trained speleologist. (More on the\ndifference between these terms later!)\n\n\n\nChile\u2019s Tyndall\nGlacier\n\n\n\nIf you\u2019re interested in the Patagonian\nAndes, Chile\u2019s Tyndall Glacier may be for you. It is located in the Torres del\nPaine National Park, with a total area of 331 kilometers or about 205 miles.\n\n\n\nWhat makes this experience among the most dangerous? The shaft is 100 meters deep. If there is a wild temperature swing that causes glacial melt, the shaft can fill in hours \u2013 not days \u2013 making escape dangerous, if not impossible.\n\n\n\n\nhttps:\/\/www.youtube.com\/watch?v=Z4Kyuh6jPtg\n\n\n\n\nMexico\u2019s\nNaica Mine\n\n\n\nIf you\u2019re ready for the unhealthiest sauna\nexperience possible, this is the cave for you. Owned by \u2018Penoles,\u2019 a Mexican\nmining company, this cave\u2019s typical conditions are 122 degrees Fahrenheit and\n100% humidity. To survive this experience, you have to wear a cooling system\nand use breathing equipment.\n\n\n\nThis \u201cSistine Chapel of Crystals\u201d is considered to be the largest crystal cave that has ever been discovered, but seeing it comes at a high physical price. To see the crystals that are said to measure over 49 feet and weigh 50 tons (about 100,000 pounds!), you have to go down about 1,000 feet into the mountain.\n\n\n\n\nhttps:\/\/www.youtube.com\/watch?v=EEGuZRIU4RU\n\n\n\n\nNorway\u2019s\nPlura Cave\n\n\n\nThis diving cave considered to be Northern\nEurope\u2019s largest water-filled cave. It is estimated to go to about 1,300 feet\ndeep. This type of diving is dangerous for several reasons:\n\n\n\nIt requires\ndecompression steps. It isn\u2019t safe to go directly from the deepest part of the\ncave to the surface. There are places in the cave that have air available,\nallowing for a break in the assent.There are very\nsharp stones that can cut lines if the diver isn\u2019t experienced enough to\nnavigate them.\n\n\n\nTwo extremely experienced divers died in this dive in 2014.\n\n\n\n\nhttps:\/\/www.youtube.com\/watch?v=ku-WkZb-oXk\n\n\n\n\nPhilippines\u2019\nPuerto Princesa Underground River\n\n\n\nThis cave is actually closer to Sabang\nthan to Puerto Princesa and visiting requires a permit issued at the Puerto\nPrincesa City Coliseum. Once you arrive at the cave, you will don a hard-hat\nand enter the longest navigable underground river in the world via boat. \n\n\n\nGuided tours have audio guides to ensure\nthe tour is as quiet as possible. Why? Well\u2026 you don\u2019t want to wake or\ndisturb the bats, do you?\n\n\n\nBats aren\u2019t the only inhabitants of the cave. Highly venomous snakes, centipedes, and tarantulas make their homes there too. When the sun dips down, the bats decide to leave the cave, and thousands of swifts fly in. Some have equated the sound of flapping wings to that of a speeding train! \n\n\n\n\nhttps:\/\/www.youtube.com\/watch?v=pUwpylqUmkc\n\n\n\n\nSwitzerland\u2019s\nGorner Glacier\n\n\n\nThere are two related things that make\nthis diving cave extremely dangerous:\n\n\n\nAny minimal\nfluctuation in temperature can result in the cave\u2019s chambers collapsing and\nstranding anyone unfortunate enough to be inside at the time.The water\ntemperature is only 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Even with a 7 mm dive suit, a diver\ncan only stay in waters of that temperature for a couple of hours.\n\n\n\nWater at that temperature is also going to require having surface ice broken in order to make progress.\n\n\n\n\nhttps:\/\/www.youtube.com\/watch?v=vdF8K9TSA2c\n\n\n\n\nUzbekistan\u2019s\nDark Star Cave\n\n\n\nIf the constant freezing wind in total\ndarkness is your thing, well\u2026 this cave\u2019s for you. This cave, also called \u201cThe\nUnderground Everest,\u201d requires a 3,280 descent. Without proper planning,\noutfitting, and supplies, the conditions in this cave can (and has) literally\nmummify any living thing.\n\n\n\n11 miles of this cave have been mapped, and explorers have yet to find an end.\n\n\n\n\nhttps:\/\/www.youtube.com\/watch?v=ifm9QzpQ4bA\n\n\n\n\nYucatan\u2019s\nCenotes\n\n\n\nIf the conditions listed in the above\ncaves aren\u2019t enough to give you pause, the sign of the grim reaper warning\ndivers to not go beyond a certain point, or they could face death should get\nyour attention.\n\n\n\nThis network of underwater caves is one of\nthe deadliest diving spots in the world. These caves formed when sections of\nthe land collapsed to create sinkholes filled with water. Before that happened,\nthe ancient Mayans used to use this area for human sacrifice rituals.\n\n\n\nEven experienced divers have become disoriented and\nhave lost their lives in this series of caves because they ignored the warnings\nand strayed away from the marked paths. The caves also have hidden roots and\nvines growing in them, which have entangled divers. One such cave, Chac Mool Cenote,\nis said to be so dangerous that divers are lucky to return.\n\n\n\nMany of these caves have guided tours that an individual can take, but when explorers venture beyond the tour boundaries, the more dangerous environment begins (with the exception of the Puerto Princesa Underground River tour \u2013 those living creatures are part of the group tour area too.)\n\n\n\n\nhttps:\/\/www.youtube.com\/watch?v=r_m8vy1vDTg\n\n\n\n\nThings to Note About Dangerous Caves\n\n\n\nThere are hordes of horror\nstories that involve caves. People who believed they were experienced enough,\nprepared enough and well-guided have entered caves and never returned. There\u2019s\nmore to consider than sudden drops or narrowing passages.\n\n\n\nWhat Can Make a Cave Dangerous?\n\n\n\nThere are several\nenvironmental factors that can contribute to making a caving environment\ndangerous. Things to keep in mind can include:\n\n\n\nA crumbling\ninterior\n\n\n\nCaves are\ncreated when surfaces separate. That separation isn\u2019t a one-time occurrence\nmuch as we would like to tell ourselves it is. Caves have been known to have roofs\ncollapse or to have walls expand by shedding large boulders and dropping them\nonto unsuspecting explorers.\n\n\n\nAre there\nusually signs that this is taking place? Sometimes, yes. You may be able to\nspot fresh breaks in the walls, paths, or ceiling, but there isn\u2019t a guarantee.\n\n\n\nSudden\nflooding\n\n\n\nDepending on the cave, a minor change in temperature can result in significant ice-melt or surprise seasonal rains that can send a rush of water down into the cave flooding it making escape impossible.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nConfusion\n\n\n\nHave you\never walked through a maze? In the beginning, you may feel confident that you\nknow exactly which turns you\u2019ve taken, but after a handful of turns, it\u2019s\ndifficult to remember your exact path. Everything looks the same, and the way\nout is the reverse from the turns you took when you began.\n\n\n\nFear\n\n\n\nEven the\nmost experienced expert will tell you that she experiences fear when she\nexplores. Some even suggest that only a fool doesn\u2019t acknowledge fear. Sure,\nthe curiosity is strong, but the fear of making a misstep keeps a diver alive.\n\n\n\nThat said,\nthere has to be balance. Unchecked fear can cause panic. If you\u2019re using a\nbreathing assist mechanism, and you begin breathing to fast because you\u2019re\npanicked, you\u2019ll end up breathing your carbon dioxide rather than the oxygen\nyou need.\n\n\n\nEnvironment\n\n\n\nThere are\ncaves on this list that are beyond freezing and are on the opposite end of the\nspectrum, incredibly hot and humid. \n\n\n\nSome caves\nhave enough moisture in them to grow slippery vegetation or vines that can\ntangle around a climber\u2019s gear and render them helpless. There\u2019s another cave\non our list that is known for its poisonous inhabitants. Other caves don\u2019t have\nbreathable air.\n\n\n\nThe point is, you never know exactly what you\u2019re going to encounter when you explore a new cave, so going in with a healthy dose of respect for the natural formations is in your best interest. So is making sure that you don\u2019t explore by yourself and have done comprehensive research on your target.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nThree Levels of Caving Expertise\n\n\n\nMaybe you\u2019ve visited Carlsbad\nCaverns in New Mexico, listened to the guide's warnings, experienced the thrill\nof the sights and sounds, and came out unscathed, so you feel you\u2019re ready for\nsomething a little more challenging. Before you go there, let\u2019s talk about\nthree distinct levels of caving expertise.\n\n\n\nSpelunkers\n\n\n\nThese are the hobbyists of the caving\nworld. This by no means implies that there aren\u2019t dangers involved; these are\nthe individuals that explore local caves in groups with more experienced\nindividuals leading the group.\n\n\n\nCavers\n\n\n\nThese are the individuals that have\ninvested in formal training. They understand how to use ropes, are able to\nidentify various levels of rock, and have specific rescue training.\n\n\n\nSpeleologists\n\n\n\nThese are professionals who explore, study, and map\ncaves for the purposes of research.\n\n\n\nExtreme Environments, Unexpected Situations and\u2026Outer Space?\n\n\n\nDid you know that one way that our space program begins to train astronauts is to put them in some of these difficult cave situations? Why would they do that? What do caves have to do with space exploration?\n\n\n\nCan you imagine getting into\nsome very difficult situations where someone may get injured, or provisions are\nlimited and running low, and you have the choice to either pull together and\nmake things work or you can work against each other? Caving prepares for these\nthings. \n\n\n\nTeam dynamics are incredibly\nimportant in the space program where extreme and unknown situations pop up in a\nforeign territory and environment. \n\n\n\nCaving also helps them with real-life capturing of samples in a manner that doesn\u2019t harm the environment or compromise the sample. They are then responsible for providing timely, accurate documentation of their findings.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nWays to Get Started in the Caving Fascination\n\n\n\nTraining as an astronaut is a\nbit more than you need to focus on, but if you\u2019ve never explored a cave and\nthink it sounds intriguing, perhaps you should get your feet wet (no pun\nintended) with a basic tour. Here are the top tourist cave explorations for\nnovices and also some for those with more experience:\n\n\n\nTop 10 Cave Tours for New Explorers (Alphabetized by State)\n\n\n\n\n\nKartchner Caverns State Park \u2013 Arizona \n\n\n\nThese caverns state that they have the\nlongest stalactite formation. They have paved paths with guardrails to assist\nthose who aren\u2019t as sure on their feet \u2013 and to keep children from leaning too\nfar over the precipices.\n\n\n\nIf the thought of experiencing bats in the\nPhilippines sounded a bit intriguing, you just might be able to experience them\nin a much more user-friendly environment.\n\n\n\nSince this is a state park, you have\naccess to not only guided tours of the caverns but also to a manned discovery\ncenter and camping.\n\n\n\nBlanchard Springs Caverns \u2013 Arkansas\n\n\n\nThere are two different cave tours you can\ntake here. The first is a gentle tour led by Forest Service Guides. It is an\naccessible trail, so strollers and wheelchairs are welcome. This tour will you \u201cThe\nWorld\u2019s Largest Flowstone.\u201d \n\n\n\nThe second tour requires advanced\nreservations and is more advanced. To participate in this tour, you must be in\ngood physical condition and be prepared to get dirty as you crawl and squeeze\nthrough various trails.\n\n\n\nThe cave stays at a constant 58 degrees\nand has about 100% humidity (that\u2019s the South for you.) High humidity and cool\nair can make the temperature seem cooler than it really is.\n\n\n\nOnce again, since this is in a National\nForest, The Ozarks, to be exact, there are additional activities and camping\navailable.\n\n\n\nGlenwood Springs Cave \u2013 Colorado\n\n\n\nThese caves are privately owned and have\nbeen prepared to meet safety standards.\n\n\n\nThere are three different levels of cave\ntours available:\n\n\n\nOne that is\ntargeted toward younger childrenAnother for those\nwho prefer a gentler experience, but want a bit more than the basicsOne that requires\nhardhats and promises you\u2019ll be getting dirty crawling through crevices \u2013 some\nas narrow as 18 square inches.\n\n\n\nAll of the tours are guided.\n\n\n\nIf cave tours aren\u2019t enough excitement for\nyou, there\u2019s also an amusement park you can visit.\n\n\n\nMammoth Cave National Park \u2013 Kentucky\n\n\n\nAnother member of the National Park\nService, Mammoth Cave, boasts one of the longest known cave systems on earth\n(400+ miles!). The National Park Service provides maps and has several guided\ntours that are available. \n\n\n\nThe thing to be aware of is that there is a disease that is killing the local bat population. As a result, there are limitations as to what you can wear and\/or take into the caves with you. Here are the information and guidelines you need to help protect the bats from White-Nose Syndrome (WNS).\n\n\n\nLewis & Clark Caverns State Park \u2013 Montana\n\n\n\nThe Lewis & Clark Caverns are members\nof the Montana State Park system and, as such, not only has access to\nadditional activities and camping but requires all cave visits be conducted by\ntrained guides.\n\n\n\nThere are three different levels of tours\nyou can take. \n\n\n\nOne is wheelchair\naccessibleOne is of\nmoderate to difficult complexity that includes 600 stairs, ducking, bending,\nsliding, and even waddling. Yup, you\u2019re probably going to be brushing up\nagainst the walls, so you should plan on getting some dirt on you.The third tour is\nconsidered to be challenging, and you can plan on crawling on your knees and\nwiggling through areas, lighted hard-hat, and all.\n\n\n\nThese caverns are considered to be one of\nthe largest known limestone caverns in the Northwest. At an elevation of 5,300\nfeet above sea level (that\u2019s 1.6 miles up), you need to make sure you are well\nhydrated and prepared for the thinner air.\n\n\n\nCarlsbad Caverns National Park \u2013 New Mexico\n\n\n\nCarlsbad was mentioned at the beginning of\nthis article. These caverns have been highlighted in several documentaries,\nincluding snippets of film that were captured for Walt Disney\u2019s \u201cAmerica the\nBeautiful\u201d attraction.\n\n\n\nYou can take self-guided tours in some\nareas, or you can arrange for ranger-guided tours at different difficulty\nlevels.\n\n\n\nHere\u2019s some information regarding specific footwear requirements to protect the bats from White Nose Syndrome and other dos and don\u2019ts for visiting the caves.\n\n\n\nOregon Caves National Monument \u2013 Oregon\n\n\n\nEnter \u201cThe Marble Halls of Oregon\u201d deep\nwithin the Siskiyou Mountain range. In these caves, you can experience a kids\u2019\nand family tour with park rangers available to answer questions, and historic\ncandlelight cave tour, or if you\u2019re feeling more adventurous, there\u2019s the\nDiscovery tour that has you twisting, stopping and discovering the caves with\nyour guide.\n\n\n\nWant a more involved experience? The\nOff-Trail caving tour will be just right for you. You must be physically fit\nand prepared to squeeze through tight spaces and crawl on your stomach. A dirty\nexperience is promised during this guided tour.\n\n\n\nNatural Bridge Caverns \u2013 Texas\n\n\n\nUnlike the caves in Arkansas, these\ncaverns are typically about 70 degrees Fahrenheit inside.\n\n\n\nIn addition to several different levels of\ncave exploration tours 180 feet below ground that range from basic discovery to\nadventure climbing, crawling, rappelling, and exploring, there are also outdoor\nzip rails and ropes courses, a 5,000 square foot maze, mining activities, and\nrefreshment options.\n\n\n\nLuray Caverns \u2013 Virginia\n\n\n\nIn typical Virginia style, not only have\nLuray Caverns eliminated any steps for their visitors, but they also have put\ndown pavers along the paths to make the experience completely accessible for\nall. As if that\u2019s not enough, where else could you possibly experience \u201cThe\nGreat Stalacpipe Organ?\u201d Touted as the World\u2019s Largest Musical Instrument by\ntapping into over three acres of the caverns.\n\n\n\nLost World Caverns \u2013 West Virginia\n\n\n\nWant a cave experience that requires you\nto squeeze through small spaces and get dirty? You can find that out here by\nscheduling the Wild Cave Tour. If that\u2019s not your cup of tea, there\u2019s also a\ngeneral admission cave tour that\u2019s suitable for all ages.\n\n\n\nWhen you visit these caves in West\nVirginia, you\u2019ll go 120 feet below the surface to observe incredible natural\nformations. If it\u2019s hot outside, it\u2019s cool inside as the caves stay at about 52\ndegrees Fahrenheit.\n\n\n\nOnce you\u2019ve finished exploring, you can take your time\ngoing through the museum and gift shop.\n\n\n\nTypical Gear Used for Caving\n\n\n\nIf you\u2019re going to be leaning toward some of the more involved and participatory caving exploration exercises, there are always some basic items that are beneficial when you go into caves. I go over all of this in more detail in my beginner's guide to caving article. \n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nSturdy Hiking Boots\n\n\n\nMany of the caves\u2019 sites\nwe\u2019ve discussed have suggested having good shoes. In fact, all of them have\nsaid that footwear such as flip flops is not allowed. Some examples of good\nboots for caving are (price points listed are as of the writing of this\narticle):\n\n\n\nDry CavingMen: Columbia Men\u2019s Newton Ridge Plus II Waterproof Hiking Boot \u2013 See the latest price on AmazonWomen: XPETI Women\u2019s Thermator Mid High-Tip Waterproof Hiking Outdoor Boot \u2013 See the latest price on AmazonWet CavingMen\/Women: Muck Boot Adult MuckMaster Hi-Cut Boot \u2013 See the latest price on Amazon\n\n\n\nKnee Pads\n\n\n\nMost of the caves have knee pads that they supply. If you\u2019re part of a group that is exploring caves, though, the DeWalt Heavy-duty Flooring Kneepads (available on Amazon) are the best for the money. I also just purchased the Knee Pads for Work by Thunderbolt for Construction, Flooring (available on Amazon) to try out. You can see my full list of knee pad recommendations here "Best Knee Pads for Caving: I've never crawled better".\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nHelmet and Headlamp\n\n\n\nProtecting your head is a must when it comes to caving. A good caving helmet isn't very expensive but you want to make sure to get one that is designed for caving\/rock climbing and that is also comfortable. Let's face it, you can have the best helmet in the world but if it's not comfortable you won't want to wear it. \n\n\n\nI personally use the Petzl Boreo, available on Amazon, the price is fair, and it's very comfortable. Make sure to check out the article I wrote on caving helmets here "Caving Helmet Buyer\u2019s Guide".\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nSturdy Gloves\n\n\n\nThere are tons of options available when it comes to gloves but at the end of the day, you just need a good pair that is meant for caving. The Intra-FIT Durable Climbing gloves (on Amazon) is a good option, it provides good dexterity while protecting your hands and wrists. \n\n\n\nFirst Aid and Dry Bag\n\n\n\nEvery cave, regardless of experience, needs a first aid kit and at some point will want a decent dry bag for gear. This Roobuck First Aid Kit for Camping, Hiking, etc. (on Amazon) is a good all-around first aid kit. Its compact, lightweight, and reasonably priced. The Earth Pak Waterproof Dry Bag (on Amazon) will keep your provisions safe and accessible without breaking the bank. \n\n\n\nSafety First\n\n\n\nWhen you\u2019re planning on going\ncaving, there are some basic safety practices that everyone needs to observe. Everyone\n\u2013 no matter how experienced you feel you are.\n\n\n\nNEVER go\nalone. \n\n\n\nAlways go\nwith at least one other person. The recommended number of people for a caving\nexpedition is at least four and let someone who isn\u2019t going on your adventure\nknow where you\u2019re going to be and when you plan to be out of the ground. The\nbetter you plan for the worst-case scenario, the less likely you are to need\nit.\n\n\n\nKnow your\nlimitations.\n\n\n\nThere are\ntimes when we want to believe we are invincible \u2013 however, caving should not be\none of those times. Remember, experts say that fear is an important part of the\ncuriosity\/fear balance. Know what you can safely do. This is the time when the\nlowest level of skill determines what happens next.\n\n\n\nMake sure you\nhave adequate gear and supplies.\n\n\n\nCaves can get cold. Make sure you have warm clothing available. Also, plan for delays and take provisions in case you need them. This would mean plenty of food, water, and your first aid kit.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nMaintain three\npoints of contact.\n\n\n\nAlways have\nat least three parts of your body supported on sturdy\/immovable objects. Maybe\nyour foot is on something solid, your hand is on something else, and your other\nshoulder is against a wall. Perhaps it\u2019s your knee, hand, and hip. Regardless,\nthis keeps you balanced, particularly when you are on uneven ground.\n\n\n\nHave an\nemergency plan.\n\n\n\nThere should\nalways be an experienced exploration leader who is the go-to in all situations.\nBefore going on your excursion, discuss several scenarios, what happens in\neach, and who is responsible for which steps. Also, make sure you discuss what\nhappens in the event that the leader is injured.\n\n\n\nLeave\neverything better than you found it.\n\n\n\nThe caver\u2019s\nmotto is: \u201cTake nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, kill\nnothing but time.\u201d Make sure that you don\u2019t leave any trash behind and\ndon\u2019t take anything from the caves that isn\u2019t for specific archeological or\nscientific research.\n\n\n\nExplore Away!\n\n\n\nIf, after reading this\narticle, you\u2019re dying to get your Indiana Jones hat and begin exploring\ncaves, it might be a good idea to find a local group of experienced caving\nexplorers and join their ranks. \n\n\n\nTo find this kind of group,\nyou can check with your local Chamber of Commerce, do a quick internet search,\nor check with your local outdoor retailer to see if they\u2019re familiar with\nanyone.\n\n\n\nIf you\u2019re just getting into this adventurous activity, it\u2019s a good idea to start with some of the guided tours in the national parks before going off with a new group.\n\n\n\nWhen you\u2019re ready to get started caving, be sure to read my Beginners Guide and check out my recommended gear section.