Natural Wonders in the Czech Republic: Punkva Caves and Macocha Abyss

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Date: 
2010-08-19 to 2010-08-20
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The Punkva Caves are a hidden treasure in the countryside north of Brno, the Czech Republic’s second largest city.  Discovered in 1909 & 1914 these caves extend back into the hills, following the path of an underground river. The stalactite and stalagmite formations are the best we’ve ever seen in both quality and quantity. The mineral deposits that have accumulated over the centuries have been remarkably well preserved due to timed admissions and conservation minded tour guides. The tour is given in Czech, but there are accompanying English language recordings available at no extra charge.

Punkva CavesI haven’t driven a car in five months, since we traded ours in for bicycles and started our epic journey around Europe, W. Asia and N. Africa with our four children on bicycles.  It was with no small trepidation that I climbed behind the wheel of the little green Skoda that our friends lent us to head off for a visit to some of the most impressive caves in the Czech with the biggest abyss in the country.  The car was a standard (haven’t driven one of those in more like ten years!) but since my husband lost his driver’s license in Delft, NL, I am now the designated driver.  “Don’t worry!” our hostess hollered from the deck, “It’s like riding a bicycle!”  Ha ha.  Very funny.

The first 650 meters of the cave is dry.  The floors have been leveled out with concrete to make the walking surface smooth and passable to even the youngest visitors.  The lighted pathways move from room to room through this underground wonderland reminding visitors that there is so much more to the earth than meets the eye from the surface.

As we entered the boats in the second cavern I had to fight the urge to hand two pennies to the boatman for passage on the River Styx.  The cavern was dark.  The ceiling was low and the voice of the boatman was haunting.  He could easily have narrated any Halloween boat ride in chilling fashion without modifying his delivery much.  Add to it the fact that we find Czech completely incomprehensible and the effect was perfectly frightening.

Macocha AbyssOur combination ticket included tour train passage from the parking area to the caves and then a gondola ride from the cave entrance level up the sheer cliff to the top of the Macocha (Ma-soak-ah) abyss.  At 138 meters deep and 174 meters long it is the largest abyss in Eastern Europe.  The abyss gets it’s name from a local legend that tells the story of a wicked step-mother who was thrown to her death from these heights by the villagers after trying to push her step-son from the ledge.  Macocha means “step-mother.”  It is a long drop.  The children tossed a leaf (instead of a sibling!) from the railing and watched it float slowly down “forever.”

If you come to the Czech, make time to visit the caves.  They’d be a nice long day trip from Prague.  The scenery on the way and the sojourn into the “country less traveled” is worth the price of admission alone.  The spectacular caves are icing on the cake.  Be sure to make reservations in advance, especially if you plan to visit on the weekend. The admission to the caverns is a mere 150 Kc per adult and 70 kc per child.  Splurge and add the 100 Kc per person for the train ride to the mouth of the cave and gondola ride clear to the top.  It will be one of the highlights of your trip, and an experience you’ll never forget.  For information, reservations and up to date ticket pricing, contact the information service: info@caves.cz

Gallery: 
Punkva Caves
Punkva Caves
Macocha Abyss from the bottom
Punkva Caves
At the top of the abyss
Punkva Caves
Punkva Caves
Punkva Caves
Macocha Abyss
Punkva Caves boat
Cable car
In the gondola
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Article Type: 
In-Person Impressions

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