Dante's cave in Slovenia

Some pictures of us visiting "Dante's cave" in Slovenia, May 2008. 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 until 2008. 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!). I went together with several students and a Dean (?) of Twente University, after playing paddling instructor for them during the day.

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


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! :-)
A group picture, which was almost certainly going to be really nice, if Andre hadn't heard a car come up and felt too social and moved forward to grab that backpack from the road. :-)
Same group, more posed. Unfortunately several of them had decided that my warning to bring sturdy shoes, warm clothes and something to eat and drink needed no heeding. Teva's, only a cotton t-shirt and nothing to eat or drink would surely be working just as well.
Climbing up the second steep slope, just after the first larger room. the frayed steel cable was probably supposed to be helpful in climbing up, but with bare and mud caked hands that's not a very reliable support. By now several people had decided that they had enough, and they moved back out again.
Climbing down again on the other side.
Still climbing down on the other side.
Still climbing down on the other side.
A short stop for everyone to catch their breath. Even inside the larger rooms the floor had a pretty good gradient.
Moving down a slope of lose rocks, covered in a thick layer of clay.
The thickness of the layer of clay increased the further we went into the cave. This meant slipping and sliding in some places, especially when going down, like over this saddle.
The same slippery saddle.
The route went up and down more as we went further.
Where the first few slopes had handholds and sometimes even whole steps carved out, here there was no longer any help.
Sometimes the roof also came down a bit. Alex must have gotten tired of every time getting my camera's flash in his face. :-)
By now some basic climbing skills started becoming very handy.
Luckily we had an experienced climber with us: the Dean!
The cracks and holes became deeper, with jadgged rocks pointed at anyone foolish enough to fall in. Here a plate of rock had been laid down to bridge the chasm.
These holes looked like a giant dragon's jaw from which the teeth had been pulled. In between the holes there was every time a small ridge that you could step on. The holes were wide enough (about 1m/ 3.5ft across) to easily fall through.
We reached a place where one needed to be agile enough to get up, and then, after coming through a few more tunnels, there was a very steep slope going almost straight down. Since we had now come down to only four, and a few were getting claustrophobic, we decided to go back to the entrance.
We obviously weren't the first people down here, as the grafitti showed.
Some of the rock formations were very smooth.
Some of the rock formations were very smooth.
We obviously weren't the first people down here, as the grafitti showed.
Some of the rock formations were very smooth.
Some of the rock formations were very smooth.
Climbing back down was sometimes harder than climbing up, since you could not see where to place your feet. Having someone ahead that told you where to place your feet made things easier. Unfortunately my breath now fogged up the cold air in the cave, which the flash reflected against, messing up the pictures.
A small pool of water slowly building up the limestone little dams between the pools by releasing sediment.
Getting closer to the entrance, with its neatly cut out steps making progress a lot easier.
Here the ceiling came so close that wearing the backpacks on our chest was working better than wearing them on our shoulders.
Almost at the bottom, a few rounded stalagmites offer additional support.
Closer to the entrance, the bottom has been deepened to make going easier.
One last steep climb.
The orginal gate, standing next to the entrance. I can imagine entrance being limited , but I still enjoyed exploring the cave on our own without a guide.
The last couple of bent over steps to the entrance.
We didn't quite come out as clean as we went in, but it was fun nonetheless!.
It was obvious where he wore the headlamp. :-)
The smiles of achievement and relief. :-)
All in all, we had a nice evening in that cave. :-)
When we came back to the entrance of the park, the friendly ticket lady who had tried to warn us that it was "Multo Pericolloso" was no longer there. We had joked that she might have panicked after seeing only three guys re-appear when we had gone in with many more. :-)


Copyright 2008 to 2011 by Wilko van den Bergh

Note: All of these pictures are copyrighted.
So please don't use them without permission!