The Moravian Karst – Going deeper underground.
You never stop discovering when you travel. I have recently visited the Czech Republic for the first time and discovered the fantastic Karst formations in South Moravia.
I love karts. They are like a childlike interpretation of mountains. I have always associated them with Ha Long Bay in Vietnam or in Yangshuo, China. I had no idea we had Karts in Europe too.
Bats and Caves
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The Moravian Karst Region is a protected area full of bats, an underground river and stunning landscapes. There are roughly 1,100 cavers and gorges that cover roughly 92km.
There are 5 cave systems open to the public. The 5 caves are:
- Punkva Caves (the ones I explored)
- Balcarka Cave
- Katerinka Cave
- Vypustek Cave
- Sloupsko-šošůvské Caves + Pulna Cave
There are also some other caves that are only open to scientists.
To enter The Punkva Caves you need to go on a guided tour. The caves are located in the Pustý žleb canyon. They are roughly 2km from the tourist information centre. If you don’t fancy the walk you can take the tourist train as we did.
The tour takes an hour. It includes a walk through the caves with a guide, a photo opportunity at the bottom of the Macocha Abyss (more on this later) and a boat journey on the deep waters of the subterranean Punkva river.
The Punkva Caves are full of stunning stalagmites and stalactites. Their formations are a thing of wonder. Try to hang back from the group to enjoy them alone.
The caves are huge so don’t think you have to crawl through small holes and there is good lighting throughout the system. After leaving the caves you come to the bottom of the Macocha Abyss.
The Macocha Abyss is one of the most important single geological features in the Czech Republic. It is a gorge 138 meters deep. It was formed when the ceiling of a cave chamber collapsed.
Look up when you leave the caves and you will see two lookout platforms above you. These can also be visited whilst you are in the area. The Macocha Abyss is also the place where the Punkva River begins to run underground through the Punkva cave system.
The Punkva River
This is the last part of the tour and the most fun.
Getting on a boat to raft on water through an underground cave system felt like we were in an Indiana Jones movie. Especially with our charismatic boatman. He was full of practical jokes and witty humour.
The Punkva River is 29 km (18 mi) long. It is the longest underground river in the Czech Republic. In Spring if the water is too high they cancel this part of the tour or reduce your time on the water.
It is humbling to be surrounded by such powerful forces. From the creation of the gorge to the water power of the river. Surrounding oneself with nature can really put you in place.
After we left the river we went up to the two viewing platforms to look down on the abyss. You can either drive, walk (if you have the legs) or get the only cable car in the Czech Republic up.
Other Activities in The Moravian Karst Region
The Moravian Karst area also has a network of cycling (you can rent a bike at Blansko railway station) and hiking trails. They are a great way to see the surrounding area. Look out for pilgrimage churches, lookout towers and castle ruins. Not surprisingly, this area is also popular with rock climbers.
Practical Information for visiting the Moravian Kart and Punkva Caves:
The Moravian Karst was declared a Protected Landscape Area in 1956. It is not hard to see why they wanted to protect this beautiful area. That is why they limit the number of visitors in the caves.
It is essential to book tickets to the Punkva Caves in advance, especially during the summer tourist season. We recommend booking at least a week in advance!
The caves can only accommodate a limited number of visitors because of the capacity of the boat.
Reserved tickets must be collected at least 40 minutes in advance. Uncollected tickets are available to purchase throughout the day but it is best to try in the morning.
Tickets to the Balcarka, Katherine, Výpustek and Sloup-Šošůvka Caves are usually available, and no reservation is necessary.
Each cave has it is own guide. They are available in various languages. You can book the tickets here: https://portal.colosseum.eu/tours?mrsid=200
If you are visiting Brno I highly recommend visiting South Moravia and The Moravian Karst area. It is a place of natural beauty and wonder.
This post is part of a gifted campaign to promote the South Moravia region of the Czech Republic. As with all our posts, all views are our own and we have not been instructed what to include.