Košice region: Caves

With a helmet and headlamp, anybody can become an explorer at Krásnohorská Cave. But that’s not everything the region can offer. The Košice region offers six caves that are fully open to the public, all are inscribed on the UNESCO natural heritage list: Domica, Gombasecká, Jasovská, Krásnohorská, Dobšinská Ice and Ochtinská Aragonite caves.

Photo: Jaroslav Stankovič

But back to Krásnohorská Cave in the village of Krásnohorská Dlhá Lúka. At the Pension Jozefína pay an entrance fee and get the gear. The cave itself is one kilometre outside the village. Visitors have to wear a special outfit to protect their clothing as well as a helmet and headlamp. Heavy boots are also recommended. It is possible to borrow a pair there.

After entering a tunnel the visitors are guided the whole way. The tour also includes some demanding elements, for example climbing ladders, which requires both good physical condition and caution.

There is no lighting in the cave (except that for the Hall of Giants, which is equipped with one spotlight) which makes exploring the cave exciting (and the headlamps essential). Part of the tour leads above an underground river. The most demanding part requires the visitors to move on two ropes above a shallow lake, a combination of careful steps above the cold water.

The caves are as close to pristine as possible, and the experience all but imitates a real pot-holer’s, which means narrow squeezes, hair-raising obstacles and very grimy hands. For many, this is the principal charm of these particular caves: it is very easy to feel like a daring explorer delving into the unknown.

“I felt like in an action movie,” noted one recent visitor after making it through. Some parts of the cave are so tight that the claustrophobic might have a hard times. The absolute highlight is the Hall of Giants with its 34 metre tall stalactite.

The Hall of Giants (Photo: Jaroslav Stankovič)

Until recently, the Guinness Book of Records listed the Krásnohorská stalagmite as the largest in existence, a 34-metre high chunk of breathtaking natural extravagance, with a 12-metre wide base. It grows in volume every year as the relentless drips solidify, but the cavern it occupies is vast and it will be a few (thousand) years yet until it’s too big to accommodate visitors. No hurry, then, but do get along. It’s a wonderful sight.

Krásnohorská Cave is good option for recreational visitors who wish to experience something new but want to avoid undergoing special training beforehand. According to Jaroslav Stankovič, who has been guiding the tours since the cave opened, going into the cave is different each time
and the visitors themselves provide the greatest stories. Stankovič particularly cherishes an expedition with a physically disabled Hungarian girl whose father very much wanted her to see a cave. The speleologists found a way to help her navigate the whole trail. “When we came out, her father was moved to tears that we managed to do it,” Stankovič said.