I, like many other people, love to travel. We enjoy seeing different landscapes, picturesque villages, various cities around the globe…Yet often fail to see what’s right in front of our noses, smack in the middle of “our backyard”. We often fail to see the beauty and diversity of our own homelands.
There are tourist favorites, and then there are those hidden gems off the beaten path. In Slovenia, there are many of those off the beaten paths gems. The Planina cave is one of them.
Its entrance is hidden at the southern, narrow end of the Planina plain which is a hidden gem all in itself. The plain is an “ideal karst plain” as it says in the brochure, since it’s a completely closed basin. When the basin floods it creates the Planina lake, which is the second largest intermittent lake in Slovenia. One of the water sources of the lake is Planina cave, Slovenia’s largest water-filled cave.
The walk toward the entrance to the cave that lies underneath a 100-meter cliff might seem bleak with fallen and uprooted trees as silent witnesses to the icy cage this part of the country had been imprisoned in for most of February in 2014, but the water emerging from the cave is clear and vibrantly rippling as it rushes off toward the Planina plain.
The initial tunnel into the cave that reaches 500 meters or so into the subterranean void, brings you somewhere in the middle of the main cave system. There the tunnel separates into two branches, creating a subterranean confluence of two rivers. On one side, there’s the river Pivka coming through from the Postojna cave, on the other the river Rak from Rakov Škocjan and Javornik.
The cave, full of subterranean caverns, lakes and sinkholes, is only accessible with a guide, so if you do decide to visit and want to explore it, do make appropriate arrangements. Boat tours are also available.
If you happen to drive by either from Postojna or Ljubljana and decide to have a look-see, you’ll only be able to enter the mouth of the cave, underneath the cliff, but that is more than enough to give you a glimpse into what lies in the darkened tunnel ahead.
You can appease your “whetted appetite” by visiting the guard tower watching over the narrow end of the Planina plain, the Tower of Rauber. The tower is merely remains of the castle that used to sit on the hill and protected the old merchant trail, but the view, especially on a clear, sunny day is quite fetching, and the tower surrounded by still-leafless trees offers quite a few photo opportunities.