By Jen and Katie (some pics by Matt)
We didn’t quite realise it when we arrived, but the Bay of Diros is more than a beautiful place to swim. We stayed here for 4 nights right on the water’s edge – there were never any more than 3 other campervans at this idyllic little spot.
And…… we were practically on top of the Diros cave system. We hadn’t heard of it either. They are INCREDIBLE. The Vlychada Cave is open to the public; as far as we could see the Alepotrypa Cave isn’t at the moment.
Between six and eight thousand years ago, during the Stone Age, a community of people lived within the labyrinth of caves – it’s one of the oldest prehistoric villages ever discovered. Then around 5000 years ago, possibly following an earthquake, the entrance to the caves collapsed burying everyone alive. There the settlement remained completely undisturbed until the 1950s when one, then the other, cave was discovered. What a find!!
Alepotrypa means “foxhole” in Greek. A tiny entrance leads to a cavern four FOOTBALL PITCHES long. Two hundred feet high, with a lake that Jacques Cousteau has dived in. In the cave system, hundred and hundreds of artefacts, pots, and skeletons have been found, including the largest collection of hippopotamus bones in Europe.
The Vlychada cave, which you can visit part by boat, part on foot, has a current known length of 14 km. Exploration is still continuing, both under and above water. The stalactites and stalagmites that are now beneath the water were formed when the sea level was much lower; some have been found at a depth of more 70 metres.
It’s been said that these caves may be the origins of the mythological underworld of Hades, and some of the archaeological finds provide evidence that it may have been a burial ground. The bit about Hades is fanciful perhaps, but the caves are mighty impressive nonetheless.
Katie’s now going to take us on a tour……
Just before we went on the small boat we all had to put on a life jacket, because the water in the cave is more than 5 metres deep. It wasn’t very busy and we didn’t have to wait for a boat. In the Summer we read that sometimes you have to wait for 2 hours!!
Six people can go on a boat plus the rower at the back. It was a bit wobbly at the start when we took off. It was dark in the cave but there were lights on the way.
Sometimes you had to duck down because the ceiling of the cave was very low. I kept saying to mum DUCK!!! when she was taking a picture. It was so quiet. If you weren’t talking you could hear the drips falling off the stalactites, and the boat rowing.
The water was so clear,and it is about 15c*. The boat ride is about 30 minutes long, and 1.5 km. The caves are one of the best places I have visited on our trip. It was awesome!!!…
After the boat ride we had a half km walk to get to the EXIT. On our own!!!…but there was a sign. The man who rowed the boat floated away back into the cave to pick up the next people.
The tour costs 7€ for children up to 18 and 12€ for adults. The caves open at 9:00am.
Good bye caves. Your’e AMAZING!!!…..