John Spies/Barcroft Media/Landov
  • The upstream inflow entrance of Tham Khoun Xe has a verdant forest inside a huge collapsed sinkhole. It is possible to kayak from the resurgence to here and back in one full day. There are several more kilometers of cave in an adjacent fossil passage that visitors can access by climbing the boulder pile.
    John Spies/Barcroft Media/Landov
  • Enormous banks of terraced flowstone decorate the walls of the cave in many places. This slowly growing mound of white and orange calcite is one of the larger deposits along the river passage, March 2015, at Tham Khoun Ex, Laos. Photographer John Spies captured scenes from the entrances of the huge underground river passages, intricate cave formations and views from a passage high above the water.
    John Spies/Barcroft Media/Landov
  • Suphaporn Singnakphum stands amongst lush low-light plants in an underground garden in a huge fossil passage that adjoins the inflow entrance of Tham Khuon Xe, March 2015, at Tham Khoun Ex, Laos. The cave is formed by the Xe Bang Fai river, a major tributary of the Mekong and in the dry season can be traversed using inflatable kayaks.
    John Spies/Barcroft Media/Landov
  • The Giant Gour in the Oxbow area of the cave is 60 meters long and is probably one of the world's largest rimstone basins. The pool is filled with water during the wet season. The rims of basins like this grow taller each year as calcite precipitates from cave water as it flows faster over protrusions, March 2015, at Tham Khoun Ex, Laos.
    John Spies/Barcroft Media/Landov
  • Heading into darkness, a visitor paddles a small canoe near the downstream entrance. In the dry season from November to April, the only part of the year safe to visit the cave, the water is clear and deep with a rich green hue, March 2015, at Tham Khoun Ex, Laos.
    John Spies/Barcroft Media/Landov
  • Water painting with kayaks and submerged LED lights near the downstream entrance of the cave, on March 2015, at Tham Khoun Ex, Laos.
    John Spies/Barcroft Media/Landov
  • Massive formations abound in a newly discovered fossil section of the cave, 50 meters above the river level. This section, encrusted with delicate formations and not yet open to tourists, is one of several higher passages that lead to jungle shrouded entrances, March 2015, at Tham Khoun Ex, Laos.
    John Spies/Barcroft Media/Landov
  • Floating on clear deep water and reflections near the cave entrance. Visitors can either bring their own kayaks or rent boats from the local community to paddle deep inside the cave and marvel at its wonders, March 2015, at Tham Khoun Ex, Laos. Tham Khoun Xe, commonly known as the Xe Bang Fai River Cave, in Laos, has over 15km of passages filled with awe-inspiring views and wide expanses of water.
    John Spies/Barcroft Media/Landov
  • Visitors to Tham Khuon Xe can rent canoes or kayaks and paddle upstream to view the stunning calcifications on the cave walls, March 2015, at Tham Khoun Ex, Laos.
    John Spies/Barcroft Media/Landov
  • Sunlight streams into the mist-filled fossil passage near the sink of the Xe Bang Fai River. This section supports a verdant garden of ferns and other low light plants, March 2015, at Tham Khoun Ex, Laos.
    John Spies/Barcroft Media/Landov
  • The subterranean passage of the river is spectacularly decorated with calcified formations, March 2015, at Tham Khoun Ex, Laos.
    John Spies/Barcroft Media/Landov
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