Exploring the Skocjan caves, Slovenia

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

After the 36 hours in Ljubljana, I decided to visit the Skocjan caves, not far from the Italian and Slovenian border. Are you afraid of the dark? You don't mind to go underground? If not, this is a place that I definitely recommend you to visit.
Source: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/390
Are you ready to explore this great site? Here we go!
The Skocjan caves are part of the Unesco sites for the following reason: "this exceptional system of limestone caves comprises collapsed dolines, some 6 km of underground passages with a total depth of more than 200m, many waterfalls ans one of the largest known underground chambers."(Unesco site description".

It is located in the Kras region, that includes also the more famous city of Trieste ( where I studied and lived), region studied because of the karstic phenomena.

Diaries of an explorer

In the above picture you can see the entire Skocjan caves map and how deep you could go if you decide to walk along this great hiking trail.

In order to visit the caves, you can choose between some itineraries and all the itineraries are guided, since it's really interesting to listen to the guide that explains you the features and the different parts of them. So if you are thinking to explore them on your own, forget about it!

Since every hour you have a guided tour and when you buy the ticket and they schedule your visit, I had enough time to walk in the surroundings. Well you can stroll around in the Skocjan caves regional park and check this famous karstic phenomena. Along the trail, I could take a pic of this butterfly
Diaries of an explorer
You can easily reach a belvedere, where you can see the town of Skocjan and this karstic phenomena, such as a deep natural theatre with the Reka river (the Velika dolina that collapsed and created this natural theatre).
Diaries of an explorer
Diaries of an explorer

You have the possibility to walk along other hiking trails and also reach the small town on the top of the "mountain" or hill. Well, now since the time was flying and I did not want to miss the guided tour of the caves, I came over there in advance (I'm always late).

Since the ticket office, you are guided to the entrance of the caves and unfortunately you cannot take pictures. Please note that since you are going underground, it will be humid and also not that warm ( around 12 Celsius degrees). I chose the so-called itinerary 1, that lasts around 1h 30 minutes.

The nature is able to create some incredible masterpieces like this one:
Diaries of an explorer
Source: www.sloveniaholidays.org
You get to the "Silent Caves" ( Tiha jama), a complex of tunnels, halls and openings adorned by stalactites and stalagmites. For sure the most representative part of the Silent Caves is the Organ, a formation of stalagmites that resemble an organ. I have to say that at the beginning that fact that you have 60 meters of earth above your head made me a bit anxious ( I was thinking...how many tonnes do I have above my head?), but this thought disappeared in just few minutes :-)
Diaries of an explorer
Source: http://www.traveladventures.org
At the end of the Silent Cave you can find the Great Hall, a 30m high "hall" with larger formations: t was really impressive. The Great Hall divides the Silent Cave from the Murmuring Caves, since you can start hearing the sound of the rushing Reka River.
Diaries of an explorer
Source: http://www.traveladventures.org
If I liked this part, the Murmuring Caves would have been even more spectactular. In fact, after the Great Hall I found myself on top of the undeground canyon through which the Reka river flows. Now you can walk along a trail that is approximately 40 meters above the Reka river and thanks to the lights you can enjoy that wonderful sight. Of course, it is a bit humid and because of the heights if you are not afraid of the heights, this is definitely a thing to do.

The Murmuring Caves are a hundred meters high and you can easily see it here ( or in the first picture).
Diaries of an explorer
Source: http://www.park-skocjanske-jame.si/
There are also other trails behind this one, but a flood of the Reka River destroyed the lower trail. Actually the guide told me they are going to build another one above the current trail in order to prevent other floods. Can you imagine that the Reka river floods could even be able to reach almostthe top of the caves? It happened once in 1963!

You have to cross also the Cerkvenikov bridge, located 50 meters above the river: you can have a great stunning view of the river and it's really worth to stop for a while over the bridge to admire this underground canyon and landscape. The trails is right above the path at the same height (or even more than the bridge) and finally aftet 90 minutes you can reach another hall with the Rimstone Pools.
Source: www.wikipedia.org
After this last hall, you get to the "outside" world again: if before you were seeing the collapsed Velina dolina from above, now you could see it from the opposite side, at the bottom of the dolina.
Diaries of an explorer
Diaries of an explorer
Here I could see the waterfall created by the Reka river and then following the trail there's also this cave with this fountain.
Diaries of an explorer
Diaries of an explorer
This is the trail: spectacular, it feels like you are in a natural stadium or theatre: if I were a climber I would find it interesting to climb this mountain side of the Velika dolina.
Diaries of an explorer
Diaries of an explorer
Another tunnel leads you to see the waterfall of the Reka river and here you can see and feel the power of the natural elements, in such case the water.
Diaries of an explorerDiaries of an explorer
Diaries of an explorer 
This pic was really nice and in order to make you feel the force of the nature, I recorded the waterfall of the Reka river. Enjoy! :-)

Do you see it that bridge? Well on the way to the ticket office I had to cross it too: I told you it's better to leave this visit if you are afraid of heights. :-)
Diaries of an explorer
The Reka River creates also this little and nice pool.
Diaries of an explorer
Now the trail started to become steeper and I started to climb back to the ticket office: in the next pics you can admire the beauty of the nature.
Diaries of an explorer
Diaries of an explorer

If before I was under the bridge, like the Red Hot Chili Peppers song, then I took the picture from the bridge to the canyon.
Diaries of an explorer
 Once left the bridge, you need to climb the following stairs
and sometimes you can have a panoramic view of the canyon,
Diaries of an explorer

It was time to take the last pics along the trail
Diaries of an explorer
Diaries of an explorer
Diaries of an explorer
Finally, I reached the top of the Velika dolina, where there was the ticket office and here you can see the hiking trails of the Skocjan caves map.
Diaries of an explorerThis post is great for the section Into the wild and this is for sure the off the beaten path Europe I love to see! :-)

Travel tips:   
  • The guided tour I bought was the "Through the underground canyon" one, that lasts 90 minutes + 30 minutes to reach the ticket office (1.5 - 2h). This tour costs 16 Euros: it was the one I chose.
  • You can also choose the "Following the Reka River underground" tour, that lasts approximately 1-1.5h and costs 11 Euros. I did not choose this.
  • You can buy the combo-tickets for both these tours, but you need to check the timetable and the opening hours carefully since you could miss one of them. The ticket costs 21 Euros. You could walk for 3-3.5 hours.
  • If you have additional time and are trained, you could also follow the Skocjan educational trail, that could last 1-1.5 hours and is for free. It has some panoramic points.. It would be better to do it when it's warm or during the summer or late spring.
  • Please make sure you are a bit phisically trained for these trails, even if it's not that difficult to do even one.the cen
  • Underground the temperature is 12 Celsius degrees over the year, so please bring with you a jacket and also some boots.
  • If you are afraid of the heights, maybe it's better if you do not walk along these trailes, since there are points where you could feel vertigos.
  • The best way to reach the Skocjan caves is by car. If you need more info, please click here.
  • If you love hiking, trekking, nature and the underground world, this is definetely your place! It is one the best hiking trails (really spectacular) I've ever made.

Where to sleep: 
  • If you want to sleep in Trieste, you can check the post about Trieste and choose one of the recommended hotels there. 
  • If you want to sleep close to the site, do not miss the Bed Breakfast Pr Vncki, at just 400 meters from the caves, prices around  70 Euros per double room per night. 
  • Another option can be the Studios Zenja, an elegant apartment located at 1 km from the centre of Divaca, with all the facilities and princes around 55 Euros per night.

 The next and last stop of this Ita-Slovenian Road Trip are the cities of Trieste and Palmanova.

2 commenti:

Nandini Voice for the Deprived said...

Awesome post, thanks for sharing this post..

Marco Zannin said...

You're welcome! I hope you liked it! :-)

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