Thursday, October 18, 2012

Spelunking in the Ice Caves of Salzburg, Austria.

The Ice caves of Salzburg (popularly know as Eisriesenwelt) is perhaps one of the most beautiful place I have visited on earth so far. Its  a 42 km Stretch of beautifully created Stalagmites and Stalactites discovered sometime in the early 19th century by some daring spelunkers.   It is by far the worlds largest Ice caves situated atop a mountain roughly 1700m above the sea level. One can get there by foot or by cable car.

The trek is roughly about two hours considering the time taken to click some amazing landscapes of the Alps visible at a distance. Starting off early gives you a beautiful view of the sunlight falling on the mountain peaks, a real treat for the eyes. One must note the Trek is a bit tricky. At the Entrance counter where one can buy tickets for the Ice Caves tour and the cable car (if needed), we were advised against trekking, but we chose to do it anyway. The pathway is not very clear and easy to walk on, filled with stones and presence of no side railings for most part of the trek makes it a little scary as you have nothing to hang on to.  But if you are an enthusiast , its a must as you get to see some breathtaking views of the Alps and a good trekking experience.  After an ascent  of about 1700 m you can see the entrance to the caves.

Although one does not get to explore the entire 42 km stretch of the caves, a guided tour of first one km is possible. Its a one hour duration tour wherein , one will have to climb roughly 700 stairs equivalent to that of a 40 storey building.  No lightings inside the caves gives you a better feeling of the same.
Before entering everyone is given a Lantern & since the temp are around the freezing point,winter clothing is recommended.  The tour is comprehensively done in English and Deutsch.  The guide will explain the history , how it was discovered and of course some science.  If you are an Indian, you will find stalagmites very similar to a huge Shiv Ling, roughly 30m tall.  Its a shame that photography is not allowed inside. !!
     Pic Source:

Getting There:

* Its about 40 kms from Salzburg ,Austria close to a place called Werfen. One can reach Werfen by local "S Bahn" from Salzburg Hbf. A day  ticket is available for Euro 10/ person. It takes about 45 mins to reach Werfen Train Station.
PS: For someone travelling from Bayern area of Deutschland, a ticket called Bayern-Bohemia ticket is valid till Salzburg Hbf.
* From the station, there is a Bus service to the foothills of the mountain organised by Eisriesenwelt every half an hour starting at 8:47 in the morning. A to and fro ticket to the Werfen station costs about Euros 6 and the journey is around 20 mins. 
* At the foothills , one can buy a ticket to the cave tour, costs around Euros 9 . If you wish to reach the caves the cable car, add another Euros 11 to your budget.  Although it is possible to buy a one side travel for Euro 5,5o for someone willing to trek t0 the caves and return by cable car as we did. 

# Please make sure to carry some supplies for the day(Plenty of  water) as there is only one restuarant atop the mountain and the food is pretty expensive. If you are a vegetarian, carrying food is highly recommended.  If you on the move, a Spar supermarket inside the Salzburg Hbf is an ideal place to shop for the trip. Pick up some fruits, choc0lates & drinks. Don't heavy your bag if you are planning on trekking as it really gets difficult.
#Please don't wear any sort of Flat/Plastic soles for the trek.  Since we were not aware of the trekking pathway before, one of our group member had a very tough time by wearning one. !! 
#The caves are opened only in summers,  April - October !! .... Lockers are available for free @ the entrance incase you want to shed down some weight and explore in peace..:-) .
#If you are planning to do a one day trip of Salzburg, make sure to start off early in the day around 7 am to the Ice caves so you be back to Salzburg by 3 pm and you still have about 4 hours of day light with you, very much sufficient to have a quick tour of Salzburg city . 

The link below gives some more info about the place to plan better. 

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