Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Skocjan Caves

Skocjan Caves Being the spelunkers that we are, particularly since these caves are very well lit, we headed off to the Skocjan caves, these formed by the Reka River. These caves are considered to be of “global significance” and compared to other natural phenomenon such as the Grand Canyon and the Galapagos. I will agree, they are indeed spectacular, and, unbelievable, even larger and grander than the first caves we visited.
The Reka River was extremely busy in developing this cave system, having a long above ground presence before it plunges underground. The river has dug out a canyon that is around 4 kilomoters long, 60 meters wide and over 140 meters high. In some places you find yourself in huge underground chambers where you are totally dwarfed by the structures in the caves. The river is still affected by rainfall and damming…they have had flooding in the caves where the water raised by more than 100 meters! It didn’t seem real until we passed the spot that was marked on the side of the wall…and we continued hiking down and down, and down, well below that to follow the trail. Massive flood!!
We mere tourists were only able to explore a very small section of the caves – about 3 km. The labyrinth extends far beyond the areas we saw. The path took us through various caves, again with spectacular beauty and breathtaking vistas (wouldn’t want to have issues with height in this place). We could see an earlier path that wound closer to the water that used to be the tourist route. Now we were kept up higher and crossed the Cerkvenik Bridge into another channel continuing to wind through the caves. 
The cave area has been known and about and inhabited since prehistoric times. Archeologists have found evidence of living and rituals in the caves. A great many people have documented their travels through the cave systems, in boats that looked totally unlikely to even begin to float with lighting systems that were unusual at best. They have discovered that the cave system has been around for so long, it has developed its own ecosystem, including a salamander type animal that is totally white with no eyes and very hand and feet like appendages.
Check out the website that is linked at the beginning. Sadly, we were not allowed to take pictures in this cave…and this time no one did. The picture came from Kompas tours (we used their services on this trip) and the website will give you more views. Absolutely spectacular!

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