The Skocjan Caves are absolutely amazeballs! In fact they are so incredible that they’re a site. And cave is probably not the right word as this cave system is really an underground canyon. I toured this site on a day trip from Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. Now there are 2 things I want to point out. One is that it was some sort of holiday on the day I visited where sites in Slovenia were free. So I didn’t get the usual guided tour. We were able to simply walk through on our own and ask questions of the various staff along the trail through the caves. In hindsight, I would have gladly paid for the guided tour to hear more about what I was looking at. I bought a nice book at the visitor center shop to give me the information I wanted. The second thing is that they tell you there is no photography, so I kept my big camera in its pack. But I did take images with my phone. So while I have some photos of the caves, they’re not great. However, I’ll share a few of the better ones here.
This site is located in Southwest Slovenia. Because Slovenia is so small, you can get there in an hour from Ljubljana. The area around the Skocjan Caves is beautiful. But all of Slovenia is stunning! I had a car so it was an easy drive from the capital. There is a nearby town called Divaca that you can bus or train to from Ljubljana and elsewhere in Slovenia. At Divaca there are shuttle buses that take you to the Skocjan Caves visitor center or you can walk a well-marked 3km long path. Check the website for more information.
So, I’m not going to go into a major geology or history lesson here. But I will say that this natural wonder is more than caves. As I said in the intro the Skocjan Caves are more of an underground canyon. The Reka River runs through the caves.
And it is thought that millions of years ago the river was actually above ground. Over time the Reka River began to disappear under the earth. All this happened due to the type of rock that it flowed over and between. As it disappeared underground it began to carve out a gorge in the limestone. You can actually see some of the terraces formed as you tour the caves. You’ll see and hear the word “karst” to describe the caves.
I’m always fascinated by explorers who discover these sites. And really, how the hell did someone find the Skocjan Caves? According to the main website there is documentation of the caves as early as the 2nd century BC. In fact, they did find human remains here proving that humans did know about these caves a long, long time ago. But it was in the 1600’s that you begin seeing some writings on the flow of this underground river and begin to see some maps of the river and the caves. So it sounds as though a few someones found their way into this underground playground. In the late 1800’s exploration began in earnest and by the 20th century most of the cave system had been discovered and mapped. Interestingly enough, tourism to the Skocjan Caves began as early as 1819 when a visitors’ book was introduced.