Looking for an awesome underground adventure? Then you'll want to check out these "5 Superb Subterranean Spots" compiled by members of travel website VirtualTourist.com. If you're afraid of the dark or confined places, you may have to think twice!
Waitomo Glowworm Caves, North Island, New Zealand
The Waitomo Glowworm Caves have been in existence for more than 100 years and they attract people from all over the world, due to its high concentration of glowworms, which produce an amazing sight to see. Take a guided tour through the limestone cave and a boat ride through the Glowworm Grotto where these tiny insects glow in the dark and reflect off the water deep under the ground. The acoustics in the Cathedral cave is astounding. Stalactites, stalagmites and sculptures have formed as a result of water dripping from the roof of the caves, or flowing over the exposed limestone walls. There are well-laid tracks through the native bush that surround the caves as well.
Eisriesenwelt Ice Cave, Werfen, Austria
If you're looking for a cool experience, pun intended, then check out the Eisriesenwelt Ice Cave in Werfen, Austria, the largest ice cave system in the world. The caves, which started forming about 100 million years ago, are more than 24 miles long. The oldest ice currently inside the caves is thought to be around 5,000 years old. Intruding water eroded enormous spaces that travelers can visit today. VirtualTourist members say this is a unique experience, but not for those who don't like the cold, as inside it's close to freezing year around. Additionally, you should be in good shape if planning to visit, as you must climb down 700 stairs and then, of course, make your way back up.Chaak Tun Cenote, Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
Many travelers to Playa Del Carmen visit one of the nearby cenotes, a natural swimming hole underground, and VirtualTourist members say a trip to Chaak Tun Cenote, about 15 minutes from Playa Del Carmen, is a must-do. First inhabited by the Mayans centuries ago, you'll have an opportunity to walk through these caves and swim in the underwater "pool," all while getting close encounters with some wildlife, like bats! Price begins around $25 USD.
Punkva Caves, Blansko (north of Brno), Czech Republic
Part of the Moravian Karst, an area with more than 1,100 caverns and gorges, the Punkva Caves are one of just four caves open to the public. Here, an underground river has formed and visitors can cruise along the bottom of the famous Macocha Abyss, the biggest in Central Europe at 450 deep, 570 feet long and 250 feet wide.
Hezekiah's Tunnel, Jerusalem, Israel
The 8th century BC brought attacks on Jerusalem by the Assyrians and Babylonians. In order to bring fresh water to the city, King Hezekiah had an aqueduct constructed, which drew water from the Gihon Spring. Today, you can explore this tunnel, although you'll wade through water nearly 3 feet deep in some places and, unless you bring a flashlight, you'll be almost completely in the dark. For those not wanting to go underground, you can also continue on through an above-ground tunnel, which is as dry as a bone and expertly hewn by even more ancient people, the Canaanites.
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This was printed in the July 12, 2015 - July 25, 2015 edition