With helmet, headlight and protective clothing: visit the Cave of Dead Bats

Do you suffer from claustrophobia? If your answer is “no”, you will probably get inspiration for your next trip from this article (but we also believe that those who answered “yes” will re-think their phobia). If you like caves and would like to experience a special adrenaline visit to this underground creation of nature, your next trip is clear as day – the Cave of Dead Bats, the only accessible high-altitude cave in Slovakia, where you can turn into a professional speleologist for a few hours (well, at least by your appearance).

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(Photo: Martin Szunyog, Recshot)

Why the name “Cave of Dead Bats”? Let’s uncover the veil of mystery

The name of this cave, which lies in the Low Tatras just below their highest peak – Ďumbier, is a bit scary and (unfortunately) not a metaphor. Its corridors are covered with bats, some estimated to be incredible 4000 to 6000 years old. However, it is interesting to note that there are also skeletal remains of other animals – martens, bears, even those that do not naturally occur in caves, such as goats.

Here comes the question, why are there so many skeletal remains? Tomáš Lanczos, a professional speleologist, helped us uncover the mysterious veil: “In caves where numerous bat colonies overwinter, scattered bones of bats are commonly found. They accumulate there as a result of natural death over a long period of time. Same goes for bears and other animals seeking shelter or overwintering in it.” But what about the skeletons of other animals? They couldn’t find their way out and the cave swallowed them forever? “The goats could have gotten there as predators´ prey, or they could have fallen in the hole,” the speleologist adds.

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TIP: The cave has an average temperature of 3.5 °C but some glacial parts reach an annual average of only 1 °C. In addition, the air flow increases the feeling of cold, therefore warm clothing is a must. Also, durable shoes and at least some physical fitness.

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Children, as well as athletes will enjoy it. How is it possible? 

When you go to the Cave of Dead Bats, you’ll find that you have a choice of three routes. Route A is the simplest, but not the same as the usual cave tours – it is 1 km long, lit and is characterized mainly by its rocky paths and steel rope belays. Children from 8 years of age can also take part. 

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Trasa B nesie pracovný názov „speleotreking“ a vyžaduje už aj skúsenosti s lezením a pohybom vo vysokohorskom teréne. Nuž a C, to už je naozaj len pre tých s pokročilými zručnosťami, pretože jaskynný terén je náročný – úzke chodbičky, nízke stropy, hlboké priepasti, minimálne tri hodiny plazenia, búchania si hlavy. Nech sa vydáte na ktorúkoľvek, nahodíte sa do speleologického odevu s prilbou a pravou banskou čelovkou a ešte istiace lano a karabína k tomu – no hotový speleológ. Do budúcna sa pracuje aj na štvrtej trase D, ktorej cieľom bude Bystrický dóm v hĺbke 180 m, priestor väčší ako futbalové ihrisko, ktorý je pre návštevníkov zatiaľ neprístupný.

Route B is called “speleotreking” and requires experience of alpine climbing and mountaineering. Well, C is really only for those with advanced skills, because the cave terrain is challenging – narrow corridors, low ceilings, deep abysses, at least three hours of crawling, banging of your head. Whichever route you go, you will put on a speleological garment with a helmet and a real mine headlight, a belay rope and a carabiner – a complete speleologist. In the future, they are also working on the 4th route D, which destination will be the Bystricky dom (cathedral) at a depth of 180 meters, a space larger than a football field, which is not yet accessible to visitors.

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TIP: Before you go to the Cave of Dead Bats, make a reservation by phone or email. The cave is closed for the first two months of the year, in July and August you can explore it every day except Mondays – entries are at 10.00, 12.00, 14.00 and 16.00. In March – June and September – December, it is only accessible on weekends. The minimum number of people to enter the cave is four people.

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Finally, a little tutorial on how to get to this unique cave 

You will have to combine this visit to the cave with a one-hour hike as there is no road for cars to the cave entrance. Probably the best way to get there is from Trangoška (chalet) (from the intersection behind the village Bystrá, near Podbrezová), where there is a parking lot above the Trangoška. Leave your car there and walk on the green hiking trail that will take you to the signpost, which will guide you to your destination.

Note: Look for a small cottage on a little hill. 

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TIP: The cave has the attribute ecological because artificial underground operations are done very carefully and only to the extent necessary.

So? Did we lure you in?