Wednesday, August 02, 2017

A Trip to Skocjan Caves - Slovenia from Trieste - Italy

This summer I got an offer again, a summer school on CODATA-RDA research data science in ICTP Trieste. The school is hold from Sunday to Friday, it is off on Saturday and Sunday. Take the moment in Europe, I do googling to some tourism place in Slovenia close to Trieste. Yup, Slovenia. This is the fourth time I went to Trieste, but I never go that neighbor country of Italy. After some googling, I found Skocjan Cave in Divaca, it is not so far from Trieste and can be reached by bus and Train.

So I have looked for how reach to Skocjan cave from Trieste. I found the route is Trieste - Opicina (by bus) - Divaca (by Train). The Google didn't show us much information, but gives us some link to explore. Some traveler on the tripadisor suggest to use tram to Opicina continued by train. The problem is the tram is not operated since 2016 until now (July 2017). However, there is bus number 42 from Piazza Oberdan (Trieste) to Opicina. So the route is, bus number 6 Grignano - Oberdan, Continued to bus number 42 Oberdan - Opicina.

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From Opicina we continue our travel to Skocjan cave by train. We ask people location of the train, but the African guy told as that there is no train station in Opicina. We asked local Italian, and he show us the location of train station. Look at the map below. For your information, the train from Opicina to Ljubljana (stop in Divaca) only three times a day. Here is the schedule.

Villa Opicina - Divaca
07.00                07.20
10.30               10.52
17.40               18.00

Walking route for the final bus stoo (bus 42) to Villa Opicina Train Statioj
Because it is impossible to get train at 7 o'clock (first bus 42 from Oberdan depart on 7 too), we target to get the train on 10.30. We departed from ICTP Adriatico on 7.40 and arrived at Oberdan on 8.10. The bus number 6 is departed every 15 minutes and bus 42 to Opicina departs every 20 minutes. We should reach the last stop in Villa Opicina by bus 42. Unluckily, the driver of bus 42 asks us to change to bus 39. We walk from one stop after Villa Opicina to the train station, arrived there at 9.30, one hour to wait.

At nine, the train just arrived. We just enter it and pay the ticket inside the train. It is Eur 3.28 from Villa Opicina to Divaca and takes 22 minutes.

Skocjan Cave

Divaca city is a quiet place. It is beautiful. From the station, there is a small park to wait for the bus. The bus is free, you can check the timetable below as per July 2017. That is a small bus up to 20 persons. Although Skocjan cave can be reached on from the station, it is not recommended, except you have GPS to keep your track. The bus is free, use it. Here is the schedule for the bus, from and to Skocjan cave.

Timetable of free bus from Divaca to Skocjan Cave

Skocjan cave is such a beautiful hill. It is green and fresh. From 9 o'clock, there is a group trail every hour. We get there almost twelve and we got scheduled to trail on one. While waiting, we walk to Skocjan cave viewpoint. Here is the video.
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The Cave

To reach the cave, we walk almost 20 minutes down. Some staff will guide us, and they will explain about the cave before entering the cave's gate. Each group will be accompanied by one guide. He/she will explain the cave in more detail along the journey.

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The cave is divided into two parts: the silent part and river part. The entire cave was made 3 million years ago (what years?). The Škocjan Caves are a unique natural phenomenon, the creation of the Reka River. The Reka River springs from below the Snežnik plateau and flows some fifty-five kilometers on the surface. After reaching the Karst, that is the limestone surface, the river not only deepens its riverbed through erosion but also by means of corrosion – it dissolves the limestone.The stalagmite is raising about 1 cm in a hundred years. The canyon is the biggest underground canyon in Europe.

The Skocjan classic trail route (red). Top: route from the gate to finish, bottom: route from the top (solid is route in surface area, dashed line in underground route) [1]

In the first part of its course on the limestone, the Reka still flows on the surface, along with an approximately four-kilometer-long gorge that ends with a magnificent wall under which it disappears underground. The Reka River blind valley is the largest in Slovenia. In the distant past, probably in the Early Pleistocene, that is a few hundred thousand years ago, the ceiling of the cave collapsed some 200 meters from the sinks; as a result, the collapse dolines Velika dolina (up to 165 meters deep) and Mala dolina (120 metres) were created, separated by a natural bridge, a remnant of the original cave ceiling. Above the caves, between the wall above the sink and the walls of Mala dolina, lies the village of Škocjan. Close to the houses, there is another entrance to the underground, a ninety-meter-deep abyss called Okroglica, which ends just above the underground Reka River.

At the bottom of Velika dolina, the Reka River finally disappears underground and resurfaces again thirty-four kilometers away at the springs of the Timava River, not far from the Adriatic coast. Part of the Škocjan Caves in which the Reka River flows, namely the Šumeča jama (the Murmuring Cave), is only 3.5 kilometres long, between 10 and 60 meters wide and over 100 meters high underground. The length of all cave passages totals approximately 6 kilometers, while the vertical difference between the highest entrance (Okroglica abyss) and the lowest point in the caves reached by man, that is the siphon, is 205 meters. At some places, the gorge extends into underground chambers. The largest of them, Martel's Chamber, is 308 meters long, 89 meters wide on average (reaching a maximum of 123 meters) and 106 meters high, with the highest point of the ceiling at 146 meters above the Reka River bed (Drole, 1997). The largest cross-section measures 12,000 square meters, thus giving this chamber a volume of 2.2 million cubic meters.

About one hour and half we spent the time to walk inside the cave then we prepare to back to Divaca. While waiting the last bus to Divaca at 3.10 p.m (per July 2017), you can buy souvenir from Skocjan cave. There are some souvenir made from Lavender such as parfume, honey, etc. You can buy also postcad, magnetic sticker and Slovenia t-shirt.

From Divaca we use train to Villa Opicina, continued on foot to Bus pool of Bus 42 to Trieste. You can check the Train schedule from Divaca to Opicina on the following. The last bus from Opicina to Trieste is at 8 o'clock pm.

Divaca - Villa Opicina
09.46      10.06
16.12      16.38
20.32      20.54

Bridge inside the cave which at top of reka river [1]

Tips and Trick
- It is important to have GPS and internet access
- Always check the information on the internet to the actual by asking local people directly (including staff).


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