3 must-see caves

Caves are generally quite dark places, so it does make them difficult to see. But bear with us and squint through the gloom, as there are some astounding caves around the world that you really must see.

The featured image of the Cave of Crystals is courtesy of  www.laventa.it.

Waitomo Glowworm Caves, New Zealand

Waitomo Glowworm Caves, New Zealand. Glowworm strings. Photo by www.waitomo.com

Waitomo Glowworm Caves, New Zealand

Waitomo Glowworm Caves, New Zealand. Photo: www.waitomo.com

Boat tour of Waitomo Glowworm Caves, New Zealand

Boat tour of Waitomo Glowworm Caves. Photo: www.waitomo.com

Waitomo Glowworm Caves, New Zealand

Glowworms used to be our only way of illuminating caves for millennia until we finally got round to inventing energy-saving lightbulbs.

The best place to see nature’s LEDs is Waitomo, where tours culminate in a pitch-black boat ride with nothing but thousands of the little blighters guiding the way.

The Cave of Crystals, Mexico

The Cave of Crystals, Mexico. Photo courtesy of www.laventa.it

Cave of the Crystals, Mexico

A cave full of massive selenite crystals can be found attached to the Naica Mine in Chihuahua, giving people the opportunity to walk around a place that makes them feel like the villain in a James Bond film.

Be prepared to get a geology degree though – the 50C temperatures inside mean tourists rarely get a look in.

The Warszawa Chamber at Wieliczka Salt Mine, Poland

The Warszawa Chamber at Wieliczka Salt Mine. Photo by markhealey

Small chapel at Wieliczka Salt Mine, Poland

Small chapel at Wieliczka Salt Mine. Photo by Anosmia

Wieliczka Salt Mine, Wieliczka, near Krakow, Poland

Wieliczka Chapel, the largest chapel in Wieliczka, has engravings of moments in Jesus’s life on its walls. Photo by byungkyupark

A grotto at Wieliczka Salt Mine, Poland

A grotto at Wieliczka Salt Mine. Photo by Anosmia

The green lake at Wieliczka Salt Mine, Poland

The green lake at Wieliczka Salt Mine. Photo by mararie

Chapel Sacristry at Wieliczka Salt Mine, Poland

Chapel Sacristry at Wieliczka Salt Mine. Photo by nedrichards

A carving - Jesus at the temple - at Wieliczka Salt Mine, Poland

A carving – Jesus at the temple – at Wieliczka Salt Mine. Photo by nedrichards

Janowice Chamber at Wieliczka Salt Mine, Poland

Janowice Chamber at Wieliczka Salt Mine, Poland. Photo by alexeyklyukin

Wieliczka Salt Mines, Poland

Ok fine, it’s a mine – but a mine is really just a man-made cave so this remarkable spot near Krakow definitely counts.

Thousands of kilometres of tunnels and chambers have been excavated in Wieliczka over the centuries, with miners spending so much time down there that they carved out quarters, chapels, lakes and even a full cathedral hundreds of metres under the ground.

It’s probably also one of the few places in the world where tour guides encourage visitors to lick the walls.