English

Skocjanske Jame / The Caves of St. Kanzian

Dr. Birgit Stegbauer

There are more than 8,000 caves in Slovenia, including about 25 show caves. Although Postojnska Jama with its magical dripstone world is the most famous of all caves in the Karst, my top favorites are Skocjanske Jame because they correspond more closely to my idea of the Karst, its nature and its proximity to the Adriatic. The highlight of this cave tour is the walk along the underground river Reka, with high canyons and a spectacular high bridge.

The Skocjanske Jame (Jame = 'caves') are the work of the river Reka (Reka = 'river'). This just 54 km long river has its source in Croatia, flows across the west of Slovenia and disappears at Skocjan into the Karst. 38 km later the Reka resurfaces in Italy, now as one of several headstreams of the river Timova, where it soon, near Duino, joins the Adriatic Sea. Consequently, most of the Reka's course is subterraneous.

Over millions of years, the river has carved a whole system of caves out of the Karst, with cathedrals more than 150 m high! Skocjanske Jame can boast Europe's longest and highest subterraneous canyons. Furthermore, there is alpine as well as Mediterranean flora in its dolines. That is why Skocjan with the caves, dolines and the village of Skocjan itself were included in 1986 in the list of the UNESCO natural and cultural world heritage sites.

As a visitor, you can choose between two tours, both about 1.5 hours long and involving approximately 3 km walking.

The classic cave tour is a guided tour, which leads to the underground canyons of the Reka. It starts with a walk through the so-called Silent Cave that houses many dripstones. It is a corridor of the cave system that floods only when the river Reka reaches extreme high-water levels. At the end of the corridor there is an impressive view to the underground river and the cathedrals, even more so from the 45 m high bridge that spans both sides of the Reka. Walking along the Reka, one reaches the Great Doline whose walls rise almost 160 m. An elevator takes one back to the visitor centre.

The new tour can be walked with or without guide, depending of the month of the year. It starts exactly where the Reka first disappears underground, which is directly below the village of Skocjan. Here, the Reka has created a cave that is about 300 metres long and 30 metres high, where daylight penetrates mysteriously through several openings. Always walking along the river Reka, one passes a collapsed doline and a natural bridge, which is the last remainder of a collapsed cave ceiling, before reaching the Great Doline, where the Reka finally disappears into the Karst and the elevator takes one back to the visitor centre.

The new tour only re-opened in April 2011, after a serious flood in 1965 made the visitor path impassable. Here, one experiences the interplay of limestone rocks and water and flora in its most unique way. Moreover, the new tour is less frequented than the classic tour. Also highly recommended is the Skocjan Education Trail around the dolines and the village of Skocjan, which takes about an hour.

It's good to know:

Drive from Villach via Ljubljana ca. 1 hour 40 minutes, via Trieste ca. 2 hours

Visitor Centre Park Skocjanske Jame

Matavun 12

SI-6215 Divaca

Tel.: 00 386 - 5 70 82 110

psj.info@psj.gov.si

 

park-skocjanske

 

Classic cave tour: Year-round

Please check the website for the monthly schedule.

Entrance fee: 15 EUR/adults, 7 EUR/children (5-15 years)

New tour April until October only.

Self-guided tours from June to September.

Guided tours only April, Mai and October.

Please check the website for the monthly schedule.

Entrance fee: 10 EUR/adults, 5 EUR/children (5-15 years)

The temperature in the cave is at a constant 12 degrees Celsius. Please wear warm clothing and remember to put on suitable shoes!

 

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