Baby Dragon cave tour
We think the future of tourism for Slovenia is brighter than a dragon's sneeze and the biggest part of this future is when all you lovely visitors start finding out proper about all the other amazing places to visit in Green Slovenia.. For us, tourism here is not about busloads of disinterested people turning up to take selfies and ticking their boxes, it's about people travelling in 2's, 3's and families or small groups who love nature and finding nature, maybe even taking the whole day to walk or bike there into the bargain!
The Planina cave is one of those exceptional secret caves we have been banging on about as alternatives to the better known tourist caves. We finally got to visit it this year would you believe.. for several years we had all but given up ourselves trying to find out when we could actually visit, but now we know how amazing it is inside and how you can get to visit it, so get your torch out and read on!
This is what you need to know..
The cave can only be toured with a guide, (it's locked otherwise) in the spring, summer and autumn months at 5pm on a Sat or Sun and also 3pm on a Sunday. In July and August there should be a tour every day at 5pm. In the winter it's closed for safety and environmental reasons.
Wait for the guide by the wooden hut in the little car park at 5pm.. don't panic if they are not there on time, Slovenians are lovely people but sometimes the timekeeping here can be a little questionable!
The wait is worth it, the tour is a breathe of fresh air, especially on a hot summer day and takes a little less than an hour. You don't need a helmet and the guide will give you a torch. It is always wet in the cave so you should have decent shoes. The ticket costs about a tenner, which is jolly good value indeed.
Inside the cave you will walk along a river to see where it collides and meets up with another river underground.. the noise can be incredibly powerful and refreshing. You will cross bridges built by the Italian army as they tried to break through to the Postojna cave.. but nature won.
And you will see at least one baby dragon!
So one lovely summers day we turned up at the car park 15 minutes before 5pm and waited and waited.. We walked down the stunning green path, through the old rusty gate and down to the cave and back a few times, but nobody around.. we came back to the car park and an Italian family were sat there waiting, just about to give up and leave, also looking at the noticeboard a little confused.
We established they also wanted to do the cave tour and so now it was about 5.15pm, so we called the 2 numbers on the noticeboard.. no answer.. no answer. Luckily we have lived in Slovenia long enough to know to phone again and one of the numbers was finally answered by a very nice lady who was previously in the shower! "No, the guide isn't there, yes it's now 5.30pm, yes we are standing by the wooden hut, OK we will wait here and see you in 10 minutes!"
And then.. you guessed it.. the guide turned up without a care in the world, "oh yes, I'm a little late"!
We tell you this story, which is quite frankly typical, to give you the inside tip that to persevere and have prior knowledge are the absolute keys to getting to see these amazing secret places in Slovenia. It doesn't really matter in the end anyway, as the cave was spell binding and guide was a lovely local girl, bubbling with enthusiasm for the cave, intelligent, friendly and another one of the many reasons why you will absolutely love Slovenia!
Don't forget that caves are constantly about 8-12 degrees so, in summer particularly, you will need to bring at least a jacket with you to put on.
The river Rak that flows through the cave is an important section of the "River of 7 names" (a geological wonder of the world), as when it pops back out over ground it gets another of it's 7 names, the Unec river.. one of the most expensive fishing rivers in Europe, by the way, as you can catch marble trout here! That's not all, the river is so powerful that it can flood the entire valley to make the huge Planina disappearing lake every year, which can be seen from as far away as the A1 motorway.
You will enter the cave under a massive, thick 50 metre high cliff face, so don't forget to look up. You then walk alongside and above the river with a tiny torch for company. You follow the river and see how the Italian army built paths and bridges in their failed attempt before WW2 to break though to the Postojna cave. There are stories, an alter and about 1,000 baby dragons in the cave and you will get to see one swimming around in a tank.
Don't worry the little fella is changed for another specimen every week or so and you can see the love the guides have for these little creatures, which can live for about 100 years and are totally blind. One of our guests came back from a visit here raving about the other wildlife and "stuff" she had spotted in the cave, but most people will be more excited to see the mother dragon drip stone that looms over you and suddenly appears to guard her offspring when the guide shines her light on it!
You walk into the cave until the point where the river Rak smashes into the raging river Pivka, (which has come from the Postojna cave) and they join forces. The noise is incredible and this unique confluence is worth double the entry fee on it's own.
The basic tour is a wonderful and unique cave experience that most people could manage with good footwear. There are longer tours available here (we can help you book one if you like) and it's possible to walk miles, following the route of the Italian army back along the Pivka river.
The location of this cave is stunning, the water, the greenness outside and the darkness inside will blow you away.. the whole experience will take up just a small part of your day, but will fill your mind with lots of lovely memories to last a lifetime!