Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Doing The Tourist Bit (part1)

Once the Easter break was over we had decided that it was about time we saw some more of what this country has to offer. It is a bit of a bugbear with me, but there is so much to see and do and it just doesn't get promoted. Yesterday was proof of the pudding. Now on checking the weather forecast the weather for the planned excursion looked like it was going to be wonderful. Ideal for nosing around leisurely, and also for having a picnic. Now with it being the Easter weekend we weren't too sure of which shops would be open on the bank holiday Monday as we wante everything to be as fresh as posssible. Fortunately, it seemed as though everything was open as normal except banks and municipal offices, but we didn't want either of them. One thing that we did notice was that the fields of Rapeseed, that stuff with the acid yellow flowers, were in full pollen production. It was even making me sneeze. So it was into town, get the various bits and bobs and then back home again. Most of the stuff was prepped the evening before, so it was just a matter of putting everything into insulated bags.

Getting Closer
So Tuesday morning and we had arranged to meet our guides at the square in Polski Trambesh. For some strange reason Polski seemed to be chock-a-block, and it wasn't even market day. As usual we had got there early, which gave us a chance for a coffee and a loo break. Our guides also had problems trying to park, but eventually we managed to find each other. A quick head count over coffee, and another nervous loo break, proved that we were all there. Now the outing was planned in two parts, and we had a choice about which we would like to tackle first. The caves won.

River Osam
Now these caves are said to be the biggest in Bulgaria, I could find dribs and drabs of information about them online, but nothing in any guide book which I checked. It is almost as though it's a secret. Sign posts for getting you there are virtually non existant, but it is 18 km NE of Lovech and 2 km from the village of Devetaki. Fortunately we had Madame Garmin doing the navigating for us, but we also had to rely on a bit of guesswork, when she suggested going down a road which was blocked off. So if you are going to be using a SatNav then these co-ordinates might be of some use to you 43°13'58"N 24°53'12"E

To The Bat Cave
There are over 9000 known caves and abysses in Bulgaria (not counting potholes), and as I previously mentioned this is the largest in Bulgaria. Even though many might not have heard of it, you might well have seen it as part of the Movie Expendables 2 was filmed here in 2011. This cave system is home to several bat colonies, an estimated number being 30,000 bats, and the filming was deemed to have disturbed the bats. There are also Rock Swallows which nest here too, and the whole site was declared a natural landmark in 1996. So the film people were not overly popular, but the bat population seemed to have recovered by the following year. I have read that the caves are closed in June and July as that is the bat breeding season. Even at the moment certain areas are blocked off for this reason. There is still plenty to see and high overhead we could see some of the swallows swooping in and out of nests. We might have seen some bats but it is difficult to say for certain.

The Rebuilt Bridge
At one time it is said that a railway line, used by the miltary actually went into the caves, but over the years that became redundant. The filming of the movie led to a new bridge being built, which now connects the small car park with the caves. Previously access was via a footpath alongside the River Osam. It was a wonderful day weather wise for us, with the sun warming the air. It was actually quite nice to get inside the caves where it was nice and cool. There were constant drips of cold water coming from the ceiling high up above us, well I hope that it was water. Even the entrance into the cave is impressive, it is 30 metres high and 35 metres wide. As you head further into the cave it all just opens out in front of you. One piece of advice for anyone intending on visiting here, wear shoes with a decent grip. The floor is a bit 'muddy' with the constant dripping of water from the ceiling, and flip-flops would not do you any favours.  

A Sense Of Scale
This will start to give you an idea of the scale of the caves, in some areas of the main chamber the average ceiling height is 60 metres, but in some areas this increases to about 100 metres. They even do bungee jumping, but fortunately that attraction wasn't there yesterday. The first archealogical digs were carried out in 1927, which lead to the first Neolithic tomb being found here. Serious exploration of the caves didn't occur until the 1950s. During that time Pavel Petrov explored the river which runs through the cave system, using small wooden boats. As you gaze up at the ceiling you will notice that there are holes which allow sunlight to illuminate the cavern, also acting as entrance and egress points for bats and birds. There are seven of them, and they are called Okna. The largest of these holes is known as Kilika, and measures 73x48 metres. So there is plenty of sunlight reaching into the main chambers. As you go further into the cavern you notice evidence of modern man.

Modern Man Was Here Too
Over on the right you will notice a man made wall, with a couple of archways in. When you go through the arched tunnel you notice that there are large stone rings on the floor. Reading various things gives me the impression that storage tanks for either fuel or oil once stood there, possibly during the times when it was being used by the military. Unfortunately we couldn't go much further as the bats had put out do not disturb signs. I can safely say that I was impressed by these caverns, and the entry fee was all of 2 Leva a head. I did read somewhere that there are reductions for large groups and that pensioners get in free, but in the UK you couldn't even park your car for that.  

The Ticket Office
The Facilities
The facilities are almost non-existant, if you had anyquestions there didn't seem to be anyone around who you could ask. The chap in the green caravan only seemed to be responsible for taking the entrance fee. There is no cafe there, so take your own bits and pieces. We take plastic cups, thermos jugs full of boiling water those fruit teabag things and several 3in1 coffee things. You might think it strange that I have included a photo of Doctor Who's Porta Loo, but this is also the extent of the 'facilities'. However fear not as they were functionally tested. They were clean, didn't smell and had loo rolls in them. The only downside being that they are a bit echoie so everyone knows what you are doing. Possibly not helped by strange Brits blowing raspberries on their arms and laughing like a bunch of kids. Before I forget ladies, just on the left as you go in this is not a hand basin, and possibly not an ideal place to rest your handbag. I will let you work it out from there.

Looking Towards The Entrance
Anyone For Bungee Jumping?
The Cave Comes With Running Water



Outstanding Views


  1. Тhe size of that cave can get anyone's knickers in a twist and make them walk funny – even cavemen if they wore them!

  2. I've been to the Bacho Kiro caves at Dryanovo, and they felt more like caves with the different limestone formations, but the size of these was amazing. I wonder if the cavemen also went bungee jumping?

  3. We visited last year by public transport, the bus dropped us off right by the road that leads to the car park and we walked from there, had to pay no entrance fee either so I guess it is mostly for parking but what a stunning place.

    1. Did you go to the waterfalls at Krushuna too Sabina?

  4. I still have a problem with the Internet connection and desperatly try to sand my comment
    Did you know about Karlukovo underground caves? It might be interesting to see. ..

  5. I have not heard of those before Anna I shall look them up and see what I can find out. It is often only through hearing about places that we ever get to find these hidden treasures :o)