Slovenia's surface - let's be honest - with it's 20,273 km2 is not too big. But have you heard about Slovenia's underground? At the moment we have counted over 13,000 caves and the number is changing constantly as Slovenian spelunkers are discovering new caves as we speak.
Most of the underground is not easily accessed, but we have more than 20 caves that can be visited easily and a few mines that offer tourist visits as well. Of those I chose three experiences that I have experienced and are my favorites.
Križna jama Cave is definitely not the most known cave in Slovenia but for me it is the most beautiful and interesting cave. Why you ask? Apart from having many beautiful stalagmites, stalactites and other carstic formations it is the only one with many little lakes that have emerald green water. There is a part of the cave that used to be a winter shelter for cave bears during ice age and you can still see many remains from them trapped in the flowstone.
In the cave you can't see elm or Proteus or - as Slovenians call it - human fish, but it has many other species that are easily spotted there. Krizna jama Cave with its biological diversity is considered to be the fourth largest known ecosystem in the world. And this is not all. In the cave you can see many signatures from people visiting it in the past - this is now of course strictly prohibited - but we are lucky that was not the case before, as the oldest signature here is from 1557.
The most known Slovenian cave is Postojna Cave which is also the biggest cave system in Europe. It is the most touristy cave to visit with paved walking path, electrical lights and even the train that takes visitors deeper into the cave. But truth to be told, Postojna Cave is amazingly beautiful and you can visit it in more adventurous way. Which I did.
We've entered through Pivka Cave, crawled into the Black Cave, did a few riddles, got ourselves a key and entered through the fence into the most beautiful parts of empty Postojna Cave. On our way we were accompanied with expert spelunker guide that had answers on all of our many questions.
The three mentioned caves / halls are far from being the same. Each has it's own interesting parts, it's own stories. The Black Cave got it's name from black stalagmites and stalactites. On a few parts you can see silver shine and sometimes even golden one, that are cave microbes. We were surprised to see stone-carved path and electrical installations that were made in some parts here during the Italian occupation of the territory.
For everyone that has been already in the Postojna Cave it is easy to understand why a walk through empty halls is truly special. We've exited the cave on a famous and the only cave train in the World. You think the train is new? You are wrong, as rails for the train in the cave were set approximately 150 years ago.
Last but not least is the incredibly exciting underground kayaking at Podzemlje pece in former mine of lead and zinc that closed it's doors in the nineties. You can visit the mine on a walking tour, with bicycles or with kayaks. After the mine was closed the lower parts were flooded with crystal clear drinking water.
We've visited the mine with former miner that knew everything there is to know. The experience is completely different than in caves as this was man made and it is completely safe.
The first part is a bit claustrophobic as you enter the mine on the same little train that was used for caring miners to the underground. After changing your clothes for water proof pants you descend walking on a narrow staircase to the bottom, which is approximately 700 meters bellow the mountain Peca, where kayaking begins.
After writing a blog in Slovenian language for 10 years I have finally come to my sense and started writing one in English as well.