What do you get when you combine cave exploring and white water rafting?
Located in the rural countryside of the Czech Republic is the region called the Moravian Karst. The word karst is Slavic for caves or holes. Our destination was indeed a cave, but not just any cave. We were seeking out the Macocha Abyss.
The Fighting Couple is always on the lookout for those off the beaten path destinations that offer something truly unique. Sometimes this takes us to a restaurant that is 600 years old, an ancient Roman library, or a back street bakery that makes the best eclairs We aren’t what you might call adrenaline junkies, but when our research led us to our latest find, we knew we had to check it out.
The Macocha Abyss plunges 450 feet from the thick forest that surrounds it. The Abyss lives up to its daunting name. The view from the platform above down into this monster abyss is breathtaking.
How to get there
Getting to the Abyss is half the fun. Is is located in rural Czech Republic, an hour or so north east outside of Brno. Just take route 373 north out of town and head toward the little town of Jedovnice. Turn left once you get to Jedovnice and follow the signs up the hill.
As you arrive in the parking lot of the caves, you have three options for getting down to the entry of the cave. There is a aerial tram that can take you down the slope. The tram only works in the high season during the summer. The other option is a small train shuttle that runs year round. The last and best option is to take the short hike down the slope. There are steps and railing that makes the decent moderately easy. Bring cash(Czech Crowns) because credit cards are not accepted at the cave ticket office at the bottom of the hill. Take our word for it, it can be a hike back out to hit the ATM.
Enter the Darkness
Once you have your ticket, the tour of the caves is led by a guide speaking your chosen language. You queue up behind a heavy green door. The guide pulls it open and you enter single file into a cavernous tunnel carved into the stone. It is difficult to describe just how dark the caves really are. At one of the first stops, the guide cuts the lights and you are completely enveloped by darkness. Fear not, they do turn them back on! Besides this one stop, the rest of the tour is surprisingly well lit.
The path that you follow is single file and every 20 meters or so the guide stops and uses a torch to point out the different geologic highlights of the cave system. On the tour you see stalactites, stalagmites, ponds, rivers and other limestone formations. The guide also points out the significant explorations that have taken place in the caves during the past 125 years since the caves were first discovered. One other interesting tidbit on the tour, they point out markers for the water level in the cave during years that the cave flooded.
Each of the major formations in the cave have names attached including: angel hair, white roots, the kissing couple, elephant and many more. There were a number of references to Czech history that we really didn’t get…but you get the picture. Roughly half way through the walking tour, the cave comes to the Abyss section where you can look up and out of the cave. A river runs into the cave at this point and makes for some amazing pictures.
Once we were roughly 75% through the adventure we came to the boats. This was so cool! It really made the tour for us. The group was dived into two, each being assigned a boat with a master boat driver. Gliding through the caves almost felt like a Disney ride! Only this was for real. Each turn in the cave brought a new view of a formation or water fall. As we came around the last bend and saw daylight, we were a little disappointed as we wished it wouldn’t end!
We must offer this word of warning. Do mind your head during the boat ride section. There are a number of low ceilings and passageways that are not very forgiving on your head. Our guide didn’t ride in the boat with us, so I tend to think the boat driver didn’t speak English. We would have expected the guide to warn us. Anyway, we are warning you, mind you noggin!
Visiting the Abyss is a great year round adventure. As the temperature is constant underground. We happened to visit during a particularly cold spring, and we shed our coats a few steps into the caves. It felt great. During a hot summer, the cave overs a nice respite from the heat as well.
Definitely take in the Abyss the next time you pass through the Czech Republic. It is truly a grand adventure.