Visit to the Škocjan Caves

Special visit visit for the whole family to the beautiful Škocjan Caves , UNESCO heritage.

On the occasion of the passage of the Ipertrail athletes to the Park of the Škocjan Caves , it will be possible to participate in an organized visit in this fabulous jouel of our Karst.

Tourist visit to the caves starts in a karst collapse doline that the local people call Globočak. Visitors enter the cave through a 116-meter-long artificial tunnel that was dug in 1933. The first part of the cave that is rich in flowstone formations is called Paradiž (Paradise); well preserved stalagmite formations may be observed there. From here the path descends through Podorna dvorana (Collapse Hall), the floor of which is covered with river sediments – sands and clay – and huge stone boulders that crushed from the ceiling. Alluvial deposits at its bottom are covered with a big heap of flowstone that has been named Šotor (Tent).

The path then leads through Labirint (Labyrinth) that was completely filled with alluvial deposits in the past, the proof of which are alluvial formations on the ceiling. Here the channel turns NW and opens into the vast Velika dvorana (Great Hall) with huge stalagmites, also named the giants, that are up to 15 meters high. Soon after visitors pass famous Orgle (Organ) they hear the roaring of the river that penetrates under the karst surface through enormous Šumeča jama (Murmuring Cave). When they leave Tiha jama they can admire the large underground Reka River gorge that impresses one at every visit to the cave. The path carved into solid rock then leads to Cerkvenik Bridge that mounts 45 m above the Reka where it enters Hankejev kanal

After Mullerjeva and Svetinova dvorana the lowest point of the visit is reached – one stands 150 m under the surface, at the altitude of 276 m above the sea level. Then visitors separate from the Reka for a while and climb into Dvorana ponvic (the Gours) peculiar for special calcite formations on a slightly inclined slope – shaped like small bowls or gours. Tourists see daylight again in Schmidlova dvorana (Schmidl Hall) that opens into Velika dolina. At the bottom of this collapse doline they see the Reka for the last time. It flows under the natural bridge and falls in a more than 10-meter-high cascade into a small lake; from there it runs through a narrow water channel until it finally reaches the last ponor in the Škocjan Caves system. Tourists climb through a channel named Pruker to the elevator that takes them from the collapse doline. The visit ends at the information centre in Matavun.

Saturday, January 4th 2020 at 15.00

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Škocjan karst characteristics

 

Position

 

Škocjan Caves are situated in the Škocjan karst, a vast flat landscape that lies at an altitude between 420 and 450 m in the SE of the Kras. To the north Gabrk, Čebulovica (642 m) and Vremščica rise; to the east and south there are the flysch Vremščica foothills and Brkini. To the NW there are the Divača karst and karst plains and hills.

 

Description of the caves

 

The Škocjan Caves are a unique natural phenomenon made by the Reka River. The Reka flows from springs below the Snežnik mountain along a 55 km long course as a superficial stream. After reaching the Kras, at the contact with limestones, the river does not only erode mechanically, it also deepens its bed by means of corrosion. In the first section on the limestones the Reka flows through a 4 km long gorge at the end of which there is a mighty wall under which the Reka disappears underground. About 200 m beyond this ponor the cave ceiling collapsed in the distant past, most likely in early Pleistocene, that is a few hundred thousand years ago; the consequences are the present collapse dolines Velika dolina (160 m deep) and Mala dolina (120 m) divided by a natural arch which is the only remaining part of the original cave ceiling. Just above the cave and between the ponor and the walls of Mala dolina perches the village of Škocjan. Close to the houses, there is another entrance to the underground world, the 115 m deep shaft of Okroglica, which descends to the underground Reka.

 

In the Velika dolina the Reka finally disappears underground and emerges on the surface as far as 34 km away in the Timavo springs. This part of the Škocjan Caves, the Murmuring Cave (Šumeča jama), is in fact an underground gorge 3.5 km long, 10-60 m wide and up to 100 m high. The length of the system is approximately 6 km with 205 m of vertical difference between the highest entrance (Okroglica) and the lowest point in the caves that man has reached so far – the siphon. In some places, the gorge enlarges into extensive underground chambers, the largest of which is the Martel Hall, 308 m long, 123 m wide (89 m on average), 106 m high on average, with the highest point of the ceiling at 146 m; the greatest cross-section measures 12,000 m2, thus giving a volume about 2.2 million m3.



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