What Is the Difference Between Caving and Spelunking?

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Caving, also known as spelunking, is the exploration of natural or artificial caverns. The sport of caving has many different levels, from casual trips to caves with well-established trails to expeditions into remote and largely unexplored caverns.

The term “spelunking” is often used interchangeably with “caving,” but there is a difference between the two activities.

Spelunking generally refers to exploring caves that are already known and have been mapped out, while caving can include both the exploration of known caves and the search for new ones.

Caving requires more physical effort than spelunking, as cavers often have to crawl through tight spaces and climb over obstacles. Caving also generally requires more technical skills, as cavers often need to use ropes and other gear to safely navigate through caves.

Underneath our feet lies a hidden world just waiting to be explored. Spelunking, or caving, is the perfect activity for adventurers seeking something new.

What Are the 4 Types of Caves?

There are four main types of caves: sea caves, karst caves, lava tubes, and glacier caves.

Sea Caves

Sea caves are found along coasts where the waves have eroded the rocks over time. These caves can be very large and are often home to animals like seals and bats.

Karst Caves

Karst caves are formed when rainwater dissolves limestone rock. These caves are often complex networks of tunnels and chambers. Some of the most famous karst cave systems in the world include Mammoth Cave in Kentucky and the Škocjan Caves in Slovenia.

Lava Tubes

Lava tubes form when molten lava flows through a channel and then cooled and solidified. These caves are often found in volcanic regions like Hawaii and Iceland.

Glacier Caves

Glacier caves are formed when water flows through cracks in glaciers. These caves can be very dangerous to explore because the ice can shift and collapse at any time.

What Is Underwater Spelunking Called?

Underwater spelunking is also known as cave diving. This dangerous activity involves exploring caves that are filled with water.

Cave divers must be very experienced and need to use special gear, like scuba tanks, to safely explore these dark and treacherous environments. Furthermore, because cave diving is so dangerous, many caves that have been discovered are still largely unexplored.

What Is the Difference Between a Cavern and a Cave?

A cavern is a large, open space that is found underground, while a cave is a smaller space that is often hidden or difficult to access. Caverns can be formed by a variety of geological processes, but most caves are formed by the dissolution of limestone by water.

How Do Scientists Explore Caves?

Scientists explore caves in much the same way as recreational cavers. However, scientists also use sophisticated mapping and tracking equipment to document their findings.

Furthermore, because caves can be difficult and dangerous to explore, scientists often use robots to help them map and study these environments.

What Is the Difference Between Spelunking and Potholing?

Potholing is a type of spelunking that focuses on the vertical exploration of caves. Potholers often use ropes and other gear to rappel down into deep caverns.

This activity is also sometimes called “vertical caving.” The name potholing comes from the term “pothole,” which is a vertical shaft that forms in caves.

What Is a Fear of Spelunking?

A fear of spelunking, also known as claustrophobia, is a fear of enclosed or tight spaces.

This fear can make it difficult for people to enjoy activities like caving or spelunking.

If you have claustrophobia, you may experience anxiety, shortness of breath, and a racing heart when you are in an enclosed space.

You may also feel like you need to escape the space immediately.

While claustrophobia can be a challenge, there are ways to manage the fear and still enjoy activities like caving and spelunking.

Talk to your doctor about your options and find caves that are right for you.

With a little bit of planning, you can still enjoy all the wonders that caves have to offer.


Caving and spelunking are great activities for exploring the hidden world beneath our feet.

There are many different types of caves to explore, each with its own set of challenges and rewards.

So what are you waiting for?

Grab your gear and go find some caves to explore!

However, if you have a fear of enclosed spaces, caving and spelunking may not be the right activities for you.


Thanks For Reading.

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Beth Kent

Beth Kent

Hi, Welcome to my caving world!
I've been caving for the past 23 years, and through these years, I have learned so much about caving life and its techniques. I genuinely believe that caving is one of the most fascinating activities out there, and if you haven't tried it yet, you should!

About Me

The exploration of natural or artificial caverns from casual trips to caves with well-established trails to expeditions into remote and largely unexplored caverns is a great passion for me for the past 15 years. Sharing it here with you is my new hobby so I hope  you enjoy :)

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