Park Škocjanske jameApril 28, 2017 in Slovenia
We took a 1 minute video of the park which can be viewed here: https://youtu.be/4AyXX0kBEa0
Friends of Cath and Paul's as well as friends of ours had recommended we go to the Škocjan Caves and we thought it the perfect wet weather activity. The only slight problem was there had been so much rain that one of the two tours was closed due to high water levels. However, the 'Through the underground canyon' tour was open. It was 3km long and lasted 2 hours so we weren't disappointed.
We descended through the artificial tunnel and emerged at the start of the Silent Cave. Around every bend there were sights that made our jaws drop even further. The path had regular floor lights and there were white uplighters illuminating various formations. Stalactites and stalagmites of seemingly every imaginable size projected from the ceiling and floor. Some joined to form columns and others hung in clusters to form 'chandeliers'. The roof of the cavern was still quite low at this point so the mineral formations were close at hand. Curtains of white limestone, some with a little iron to tinge them ruddy brown, hung down from above and out from the overhanging walls. In places, the curtains looked like rucked velvet that had been wrapped around itself in a spiral. All our powers of description are needing to be employed here, with more than a little help from Cath, because there were no photographs allowed.
The first section of the Silent Cave, called Paradise, led to the aptly named Great Hall of 120m wide and 30m high. On most days the Silent Cave would live up to its name, but today it seemed to echo with the sound of thousands of individual water droplets splashing on rock. It was incredible to think that each of these droplets contained minerals that were being left behind and growing these seemingly alien entities all around us.
The most amazing stalagmite in The Great Hall was called The Giant and had formed over 200, 000 years! It was like the melted wax of candles had been repeatedly drizzled over the top of the rocks.
From the (not so) Silent Cave we walked on and gradually became aware of the low rumble reverberating off the rocks. As we got closer, the noise of the River Reka rushing through the deep underground ravine became deafening. The Slovenian word 'reka' means river, so it is literally named 'River River'! It was dark and humid, so much so that the view of the water was obscured by a cloud that ended at a very defined level just below the top of the cave.
The chamber we entered was around 100 metres in height and we were told that in 1965, it had flooded to a depth of 90 metres. Descending into the cloud and following the course of the Reka, about 40 metres above it, our eyes began to acclimatise and we could make out the light brown water gushing and frothing as it was forced to adhere to the tight course of the narrow fissure. After crossing the bridge we began to climb and the cavity opened up slightly. We came accross a set of dry pools that led up a slope away from us and were formed by a stream that used to flow over them in many miniature waterfalls.
The cave network is the most incredible series of underground phenomena we've ever seen. We remember Croatia for its beautiful overground rivers and Slovenia's subterranean marvels will never be forgotten.
In the afternoon the rain had stopped and the sunshine had found its way out from behind the clouds with such vigour that it transformed the day. As well as the caves the park provided some good walks, so we wended our way around the valley beneath the dappled shade of new spring leaves. Below us we saw some stunning waterfalls bursting forth energetically from crevices with the recent glut of rain. Above we spotted a good range of birds, including a Peregrine Falcon and Kestral. We passed ponds with large warty newts and rocks with striking red and black beatles. If you enjoy nature as we do, this area of Slovenia is definitely the place to visit!
Back at the visitor centre, Paul treated us to coffee and cake. We had a satisfying slice of Kremna Rezina, a pastry, custard and cream delight originating from Lake Bled. We'd all had a great day, Park Škocjanske jame is a wonderful place and it was made even better for us by being able to explore it with friends.Read more