Sunday, July 10, 2011

Punkva Caves

The Moravian Karst is a protected landscape of around 92 km² (~35.5 square miles) about 30 minutes from Brno. There are over 1,100 caves and gorges but only four caves are open to the public. I've wanted to visit the caves since I moved here, two years ago, but it's never worked out before now. Natalie's cousin came to visit from New Zealand so it was the perfect opportunity to do something local.

The best cave to tour is the Pukvevní jeskyně (Punkva Caves) because this tour includes an underground boat ride and you get to see the bottom of the Macocha Abyss. Nat, Cousin Pip, Mcghee and I headed out to the caves early Saturday morning. Since the caves are so popular we weren't sure if we would be able to get tickets but we lucked out and scored the ones we wanted. Later on we overheard some tourists who were pretty upset that they could not get tickets. I guess it pays sometimes to get up early on a Saturday.
The caves were awesome! There are all of these interesting stalagmites and rock formations. It's no wonder that it is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the ČR. The tour was given in Czech so we had to read the tour brochures beforehand because we knew that it would be too dark inside to try to read.

The Macocha Abyss got its name from a popular Czech legend about an evil stepmother (macocha in Česky) who threw her stepson down in to the abyss. However the boy grabbed on to a tree branch which kept him from falling to his death. He later climbed out and told everyone in the village what had happened. Fearing punishment, she committed suicide by jumping in to the abyss.

After the tour we hiked around for a bit and then headed back home. I'm really glad that we got to see the Punkva Caves on our first visit. But now I really want to see the Kateřinská jeskyně (Catherine's Cave, the Balcarka Cave and the Sloupsko-šošůvské jeskyně (Sloup-Šošůvka Caves) too. I just need to make sure that it doesn't take another 2 years to get there.

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