Newest Review: ... EUR). As the guided tours run every 20 minutes or so, I decided to visit first the two exhibitions - the Vivarium Proteus and the But... more
Interesting but overpriced experience.
Postojna Caves (Slovenia)
Member Name: dinopoohy8
Postojna Caves (Slovenia)
Advantages: geared for tourist visits, sufficient facilities, interesting tour
Disadvantages: overpriced, exhibits not so good
PURPOSE OF VISIT AND DATE
I was spending a short vacation of about 5 days and managed to squeeze in the Postojna Caves. Before visiting the Postojna Caves however, I have already visited the Skocjan caves and so my purpose of seeing these caves was more to compare and contrast between the two cave experiences. I visited in June 2012 during the Summer, by driving there; but there were a lot of tour buses there as well so I guess many tours do include this very well known attraction as part of their tours. Driving to the caves was not difficult as there are many signs to guide you to the attraction.
INTRODUCTION TO THE CAVES
The Postojna Caves is a highly popular tourist destination in Slovenia and is said to be the longest cave system in the country. According to the guide, the caves were ahead of its time; it was fitted with electricity and railway before most other parts of the country were.
WHAT YOU CAN DO, AND WHAT I DID
Visit to the Postojna Cave is only allowed if you go for a guided tour, which lasts an hour and a half each. There are several tickets that you can purchase (or combi-tickets as well) and they are well-detailed on the Postojna website (http://www.postojnska-jama.eu/en/packages/). At the time of my visit they had some discounts going on, so my friends and I took the combi-ticket of Postojna Cave, Vivarium Proteus, the Butterflies of the World Exhibition and Predjama Castle (RPP 33.2 EUR but I think we paid about 20+++ EUR).
As the guided tours run every 20 minutes or so, I decided to visit first the two exhibitions - the Vivarium Proteus and the Butterflies of the World Exhibition. Upon entering the Vivarium exhibition you are given a torchlight with which you can use to spot the cave animals / insects in each isolated exhibit. Some of these exhibits also have buttons that you can use to light up the area so that you can view better. There is quite some explanation of what adaptations the cave animals have etc, but the main problem was that the exhibits didn't seem to be well taken care of, and very often the other visitors as well could not seem to find the animal that the sign was describing. The most interesting exhibit was probably that of the human fish, or protean (I think), because its eyes had atrophied in accordance to its living conditions and believe it or not it can live up to years without food! But then again, at the end of the guided tour of the caves, you would also get a chance to see this creature being showcased. Hence, I would say that this is in all not a very informative exhibition. I had very little impression of The Butterflies of the World Exhibition unfortunately - it wasn't very interesting. They had a lot of specimens of butterflies with labels but that was pretty much it. After the exhibitions I then went on the tour.
At the start of the guided tour of the caves, you have to take a mini railway train that brings you to the heart of the caves where the walking begins. Beware as the caves are of about 8-10 degrees, so be sure to bring a jacket if you are visiting in the Summer, or the train ride will leave you freezing cold (due to the wind chill). The train ride lasts about 8 minutes, and then you get off and the tour begins. The tour is offered in quite a number of languages - while I was there I saw German, Slovenian, Japanese as well as English. You're not allowed to take pictures while inside the caves, and the tour guide will tell you off and shine her torchlight repetitively at you if you do. But quite many people still violate the rule.
The guided tour itself was quite interesting as we walked inside the caves and learned of the different types of cave formations as well as the special formations that the Postojna cave is apparently known for. There was quite a lot of people on the tour, but the tour guide would always stop at destinated spots at which there are speakers which makes it much easier to hear the commentary. The floors could however be a bit slippery at times although it was clearly marked and roughened to prevent people from slipping. There were also railings that you could hold onto to aid walking.
After the entire tour you are then led back to another train platform, from which you take the same mini train to get out of the caves.
As I earlier mentioned my ticket included the Predjama Castle. What's special about this castle is that it's merged together with a cave formation, and from the outside it actually looks quite surreal being nested within a cave! Upon entry, you can get a pamphlet with accompanying numbers and descriptions that tells you more about the castle. This castle hasn't be 'touristified' and kept pretty much in quite an 'old' condition which helps you feel once again what what it once was like. Do take note however that the castle is about 10 km from Postojna, so you will probably need a car (or tour bus) to get there. The ticketing lady was kind enough to check that we had a car and was able to make our way there before allowing us to buy the ticket as well.
Because this is such a popular tourist attraction, there are food and drink kiosks around where you can get something to fill up your stomach or to cool yourself down (ice cream!). I am sure as well that there is a toilet at the end of the guided tour. Not surprisingly there are also shops selling souvenirs, but none of which seemed particular interesting.
I felt that the entire experience was a little overpriced, compared to the Skocjan caves which are less touristy and cheaper. However, it can be quite dangerous to walk within the Skocjan caves as the floors are DEFINITELY way more slippery than the ones at Postojna Caves, hence I would reckon that if you have difficulty walking etc the Postojna Caves would definitely be a more suitable location to experience the Slovenia cave system. Due to the price I would also not recommend going to the Vivarium or the Butterflies of the World exhibit. The castle is okay and interesting but nothing spectacular.
Summary: I would recommend the Skocjan caves over this, unless you have difficulty walking.