Gumbo was visiting spectacular Postojna Cave Park, home to one of the most impressive caves you can visit anywhere. Congratulations to Professor Abe and George G, who recognized where Gumbo was.
When I began planning our trip to Slovenia, I didn't know that this small country was one of the best places in the world to see caves, so this turned out to be a pleasant surprise to our planning and visit. There's an extensive underground network of caves, including at Postojna, which extend for long distances.
Postojna is the best known of Slovenia's caves and is easy to visit. As you approach from the parking lot, you pass a group of buildings including the lower mill....
From the mill there's a nice view of a small village at a distance….
And directly ahead a series of buildings that are related to tourism (restaurant, hotel, ticket office, additional small tourist attractions)….
After getting our tickets, we waited in the que at the cave's entrance. You enter the cave in groups based on your language of preference (English, Slovene, German and Italian) -- other languages are provided tours by audio-guides. The cave entrance has been used for more than two centuries.
After you enter the cave, you're seated on a small train and begin a 3.7 km ride into the heart of the cave through a series of natural and man-made corridors and tunnels. You'll begin to see some terrific rock formations on your train journey but no need trying to take blurry photos from the moving train as there's lots of photo opportunities at your destination. The railway tracks were laid in 1872 -- initially using hand-pushed carts which were replaced by gas locomotives, these being converted to battery powered ones in 1957.
At the end of your journey you exit into an amazing wonderland -- a large cavern decorated with an immense quantity and variety of dripstone. Photography is allowed, but no flash and no tripods, so my photos are all hand-held and some are a little shaky. Still, I think you will get feeling of what it was like.
Postojna Cave is in a constant range of 8°C to 10°C, with 95% humidity, so a warm jacket and decent shoes are required. No high heels please.
Postojna's cave extends at least 24 kilometers (that's all that's been explored). You walk about 1.5 kilometers of it while doing the included guided tour (other caving options are available if you're interested). You need to travel with a relatively large group through a series of halls and passages, and there is some up and down, but there's also time to linger and take in the amazing artwork nature has created. The key formations are well-lite.
The cave is amazing and is the result of about 2,000,000 years of erosion by the Pivka River, which enters a subterranean tunnel near the cave’s entrance. Besides the action of the river, the mineral content needs to be right to form such caves. The are numerous stalactites hanging from the ceiling (including icicles and needles), stalagmites on the ground, pillars connecting floor to ceiling, and curved formations known as draperies (some looking like bacon). The various formations took thousands of years to create, growing at a rate of around 3 mm per century.
The caves are also home to "baby dragons", the endemic olm, a blind amphibian. The tour through the caves includes an aquarium with some olms in it. These are relatively largely inactive animals which can survive 10 years without any food. More on the interesting and unusual olm at a future date.
Visitors reboard the train in a cave known as the Concert Hall and return to the entrance. The river continues its deep passage underground, carving out several series of caves, and emerges again as the Unica River.
A few more final photos of the cave and its formations:
Postojna is an impressive cavern, as good or perhaps even better than the magnificent Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico.