Any trip to Slovenia is incomplete without a visit to one of the most impressive underground cave systems in the world – the Postojna Caves and the Škocjan Caves. While planning for our trip we read a lot about these caves and were quite intrigued by it. But since we had limited time we could only cover one of these two, and after some research, we decided on the Škocjan Caves.
The Škocjan Caves remain the only monument in Slovenia and the classical Karst region on UNESCO’s list of natural and cultural world heritage sites. They hold a significant position among the world’s natural monuments because of a unique natural phenomenon – the creation of the underground Reka River. The Reka River springs from below the Snežnik plateau and flows some 55 kilometres on the surface but 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.
We decided to visit these caves as a day trip from Ljubljana and first took a train and then the shuttle bus for the caves. For a tour of the caves you have to buy a ticket for a specific time slot and then accompany a guide in a tour group. As we were traveling during the off-season and the number of tours were fewer, we had quite a bit of time on our hands till our tour. So we walked around a bit on a trail around the park and explored the beautiful landscape around and had a quick meal in the local restaurant.
When it was time for our tour, a guide gathered us and took us down a quick trail to the entrance of the cave. Here he gave us a quick introduction to the history of the caves, what to expect and the rules to follow inside. And one of the most important rules was – no photography.
Walking through these caves is like entering another world altogether with one stunning sight after another. We initially walked through a man-made tunnel – Globočak Collapse Doline and continued through the Silent Cave – a cave of jaw dropping proportions and one of the largest underground chambers in the world. We were then greeted by an amazing sight of gorgeous ceiling to floor covered stalagmites and stalactites in these giant chambers. We then saw some roaring rapids, a waterfall and beautifully sculpted limestone formations. Natural light penetrates the shaft through numerous openings, and the path runs just above the water. The path inside was slippery but we noted that there were small man made steps which were probably used in ancient times to fetch water and the different formations were one of its kind. As we walked further through the dimly lit cave system, we came across the rapidly flowing Reka River and one of the most famous views of the Skocjan Caves, the Cerkvenik Bridge, suspended nearly fifty meters above the riverbed below. Both the sights are stunning that one cannot help but stand there for a while, spell bound and just marvel at God’s beautiful creations.
Since photography is not allowed inside the caves I don’t have pictures of my visit but needless to say the Skocjan Caves are beautiful and a definite must visit while in Slovenia. I won’t say anything further, and you have to experience the rest for yourself!
Tips for the trip: Despite being such a visited sight the actual logistics of visiting these caves by public transport is somewhat complicated.
The Škocjan Caves are located near the town of Divaca, just over an hour from Piran and two hours from Ljubljana by train. You need to take a train to Divaca and then from Divaca, you can take a short shuttle bus ride or walk for about 30-40 minutes to reach the park entrance. You then need to buy a ticket for the next possible slot for a visit to the caves. Sometimes the next slot can be after an hour too.
There is a cafe at the caves, but you can also bring your own lunch. For additional information you can visit the website for the caves here.
It gets slights chilly inside the caves, so don’t forget to carry a light jacket.