Paddling in Austria and Slovenia

Some pictures of us visiting "Dante's cave" in Slovenia, July 2007. According to the sign at the entrance, this is supposed to be the cave that Dante visited before writing his Inferno book. The cave is roughly 1100m long, and about 40m in elevation.

Entry into the Tolminka gorge, in which this cave lies, was free untill this year. Much to our surprise there is now a pay booth at the entrance. Still, access to the cave is unguided, and it helps to take precautions due to the difference in temperature (35+ degrees C outside, less than 10 C inside), the dirt (slippery clay seems to cover much of the surface of this cave) and of course the darkness (bring a headlamp!). We went together with the Van Ingen family, Niek and Linda with their 10 and 12 YO daughters, Iris and Lieke.

One can only guess when the access will be commercialized as well, with paid "guides" etc.

Wilko

Click on the thumbnail pictures for larger resolution pictures

The sign at the entrance to the cave, showing the map of the cave. This picture was useful as a map when whe got deeper into the cave. Long live digital camera's! :-)
After bending over to walk through a small tunnel, you come to the first steep wall. This one still has pretty decent steps cut out into the stone surface, as is visible near Klara's hands and feet.
Linda and Niek only had handlamps, which made climbing a bit difficult at times. Niek resorted to holding the lamp in his mouth, but it showed why headlights are so practical in this situation.
Klara climbing up another long slope.
A short stop for everyone to catch their breath. Due to Linda having a sore knee, we went ahead with the girls, to go explorer one more room. Niek stayed with Linda.
Another climb, this time with some moisture in the air, and droplets falling from small stalactites. This room had a lot of broken rocks in it.
Lieke enjoying the cave, climbing through holes almost upright where I had to contort to fit through.
Klara supervising the girls descent into another room. I stood at the bottom, just in case anyone decided to use gravity too enthousiastically. The further we got into the cave, the smaller the "steps" were, and often we just had to find our own route to climb, which was fun.
The map of which I had taken a picture proved very handy in figuring out our bearing. Here I'm consulting my camera while pointing in the direction of the next room.
The girls were having a great time, despite the dark, the dirt and some deep pits that we had to jump over or move alongside. I was proud of them for not being afraid and enjoying the tour.
Back with their parents, who were happy to see them, we took a group picture. Little did we know then that we were away from them for over 45 minutes.
Going back down the slopes backwards proved to be a little difficult for the little girls, due to them needing to reach out far to catch the "steps". Still, they did very well!
Klara leading the way down into one of the bigger rooms.
Linda laughing at how dirty she was. I wish that I had such an adventurous mom when I was little!
Coming back out was a little bit of a disappointment. It was very hot, moist (see the mist in the air, despite me rinsing my camera lens) and way too bright! ;-)
Iris walking in the tunnel at the entrance.
Lieke loved the clay in the cave, collecting clayballs along the way and happily getting the sticky stuff all over her. I took a picture of her covered in the stuff... She didn't like the picture, although I think that she looks adorable with it!
At the entrance everyone was surprised by how dirty we were!

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Copyright 2007 to 2009 by Wilko van den Bergh

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