Skocjan Caves, Obcina Skocjan
I visited this caves coming from Postojna, and the comparison is inevitable. Well, Postojna is bigger and more beautiful, but bring not much to anyone who saw many beautiful caves than the size.
Skocjan is different: a first area also common, with the usual stalactites and stalagmites (Poor, indeed!) and a breathtaking second part - a subterranean canyon, 100 meters high, with vertiginous views and shades, and a river roaring somewhere below you. It's more than 2km walking in "impossible" trails, slipping steps, with a blessed fence assuring that everything will end well. And the end happens in a dolina, a natural incident where the canyon's roof collapsed into the canyon, diverting the river and opening a large and deep well with trees saluting the sun.
Pictures inside are forbidden (a pity) and that's the moment to the photographers, trying to catch... anything to remember the astonishing visit.
The visit starts off with a 10 minute walk from the ticket booth, they then break visitors off into different language groups and enter the first section, the Silent Cave, where we saw stalagtites and stalagmites and briefly for a moment I wondered what the big deal was. Then we entered the Great Hall and I thought well that's nice but I just saw that at Postojna. And then we started to hear the low rumble of the Reka River and as we continued on into the Murmuring Cave we were transported into a scene out of Lord of the Rings, at any minute I expected to see Gollum creeping by hissing "Precious". And secretly hoped Legolas or Aragorn would come rescue me!
Had the cave not been so chilly, this is my image of Hades, steam rising up from the ground, me a small speck in a vast cavern, inching my way along a ledge, a small slip and I plunge into the River Styx below where Charon would be waiting to ferry me into the underworld.
Those with a serious fear of heights will want to scurry across the Cerkvenik Bridge, 150 feet above the Reka, otherwise linger for the view, it's not likely that you'll see anything like this again.
I could list for you the dimensions of the cave but seeing mere numbers on a piece of paper can't possibly convey the vastness of this cave. My jaw dropped the second we walked into the Murmuring Cave and I don't think I shut it again until I saw daylight. At the end you finally get a break from climbing up and down and ride a funicular to the top.
Cave tours are every hour from 10-17 in the peak months of June-September, 2-3 times per day in the other months. Consult the website below for updated information. Current price is 11E, tours are given in English, Slovene and German.
Within 1,5 - 2 hrs tour with a guide you will be able to see the most representative part of the cave with the most typical and impressive cave formations you can think of (stalagmites, pools, gorge, stalactites, organ). A fascinating lesson in geology and nature's beauty!
Tourism in this cave began already in 19th century when first groups to the cave were accepted and the first visitor book was established. That century on also saw most intensive exploration and further enlargement of paths in the cave for tourism puropses. At present you will take 3 km long underground walk at 12 degrees C. The most impressive section will include halls with stalagmites, stalactites, curtains in natural 'halls', the underground river Reka canyon with some breath taking views from above path and bridge, organ, cascading pools... all what you expect from cave and more. It has cave insects, funghi, worms, bacteria, proteus (human fish) and bats, any of them almost impossible to see, hidden on ceilings and in niches in their microhabitats, all quiet, some microscopic small and in general... almost invisible for the untrained eye of a commoner.
Outside the cave much greater numbers of species of both flora and fauna live, some rare and endemic, other more common and Skocjan has been also listed as important wetland habitat, which made it part of Ramsar network.
I can go on in details what you will see - but the best site for any information will be the Parks web site (see below).
Slight 'warning': taking photos inside the cave is not permitted except for the last part of tour by the mouth - exit to cave.
Ticket in 2010: 14 per adult. See updates of price and schedule from their web site. Summer season has guided tours every full hour between 10 am - 5 pm (between June-September).
Tha largest known underground canyon is here and more than 90.000 people come here every year.
The guided tour takes around 90 minutes.
The Škocjan Caves are a unique natural phenomenon, the creation of the Reka River. The Reka River springs from below the Snežnik plateau and flows some fifty-five kilometres on the surface. After reaching the Karst, that is the limestone surface, the river not only deepens its riverbed through erosion, but also by means of corrosion – it dissolves the limestone.
In the first part of its course on the limestone, the Reka still flows on the surface, along an approximately four-kilometre-long gorge that ends with a magnificent wall under which it disappears underground. The Reka River blind valley is the largest in Slovenia.
Note: Info taken from the net.
If you are looking for stalagmites and stalactites you better go to Postonja or some other cave. But, still this is one of the most impressive caves I've seen. It's a huge cave with Europe's biggest undergound canyon in it. Going down into the cave feels like going down to hell... You can only see some lights directing you downwards. Then you reach the underground river and the underground bridge. From the bridge you can appreciate the full power of the river.
The coolest part of the hike through the caves comes when you have to brave walking across a 45 meter high wood and rope bridge above the rushing waters of the Rika below. It is dimly lit, but you can see the steps carved in the rocks by the first discoverers of the caves.
One of the coolest things about the caves are the enormous size of the chambers. Some are well over 140 meters high!!
The largest being the Martelova chamber at 123 meters wide and 300 meters long.
Its highest point is 146 m!
As you can imagine it is hard getting good pages in a cave...
One of, if not the only reason you should come to this part of Slovenia, is to see the Skocjan Caves. They are a magnificent system of caves carved by a river that runs though it. Over millions of years, the Reka river has created erosion of the Karst region producing natural bridges, waterfalls, gorges and lakes.
Due to the unique nature of the caves and surrounding geological characteristics, the caves were included in 1986 as a UNESCO world heritage site.