What exactly is spelunking, and where is it practiced?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Spelunking is the practice of exploring and climbing in underground caves; Caving is the more modern and accepted term today. Many spelunkers are amateurs exploring for fun, while professional organizations exist to map new and unexplored systems. Spelunking is similar to, and shares equipment and terminology with, mountain and rock climbing, but occurs underground instead of above it.

Spelunking takes place in single caves and cavern systems which used to contain water, oil, or magma. Most professionals recommend spelunking in groups, at least at first. Caverns that contain water can be extremely dangerous; spelunking in these caves is called "cave-diving" (the term is often used incorrectly to refer to spelunking in dry caves) and is done with SCUBA and other specialized equipment for safety. Many large cave systems have been extensively mapped and some are equipped with walkways and platforms for tourists.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team