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Csodabogyós-barlang wants to make you sweat

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  • Gottschling Gyula

7/26/2013 2:00 AM

An underground tour in Csodabogyós-barlang can save a rainy day, but it can save you from sunstroke in a serious heatwave, too. Hopping in from the beach is an option, but keep in mind that during the 90 - 120 minutes long tour you''ll have to crawl, climb and slither so much that you''ll feel like you just took a hardcore Pilates class.
Translation: László Tucsni

The cave close to Balatonederics is on the eastern edge of Keszthelyi-hegység, and it is the 10th longest (5200 m long, 121 m deep) cave in Hungary. It was named after the thorny bush with red wonderberries in front of the cave's entrance. You don't need to be a geology maniac to enjoy Csodabogyós, because apart from the "magnificent stones" and the "formations from the Triassic Period", you'll experience a fun physical test with climbing and bending.

Photo: Budavári Dóra - We Love Balaton

Climbing the hill in Coveralls

The base building is only accessible on foot from the parking lot of the Africa Museum. This is just the warm-up, but the panoramic view of Lake Balaton behind your back, the meadow full of poppies and the old cottages are already a pleasant experience. The standard tour is 400 meters, it lasts for 1.5-2 hours and it costs 6 000 HUF. The advanced tour is a bit more expensive (10 000 HUF), but it is longer (900 meters) and it lasts almost 5 hours. A professional guide and an accident insurance come with the entrance fee. So do coveralls (as red as Alonso's Ferrari) and a helmet, which could be scary at first sight on a warm summer day, but chilly weather awaits the guests down below.

Photo: Budavári Dóra - We Love Balaton

In the lights of the headlamps

A 30-minute climb with short stops on the steep hillside takes us to the cave's entrance. Wearing the coveralls are starting to be uncomfortable, but the previous group's dirty coveralls are telling us louder than words that wearing them downstairs is quite practical. When we reach the entrance, which is 391 meters above sea level we start to climb down the ladder into the deep, huge hollow called the Briefing Room. This is the detour point for the standard and the advanced tours. Standard is our choice now.

Photo: Budavári Dóra - We Love Balaton

Guys with less patience or claustrophobia should avoid Csodabogyós, because you can only rely on your headlamps. In the 1.5 - 2 hours you'll get to experience everything from sliding on your bottom through crawling on all fours, climbing ladders, squeezing through small holes, slithering in the mud, to rescuing your mates from fissures. The walls are covered with limestone from the Upper Triassic Epoch (i.e. they are more than 200 million years old). In places, dripstones adorn the halls or the ceiling, then past the next corner a giant rock divides the road into two. You should carefully choose your clothes to wear underneath your coverall, because the temperature is constantly 9.5 degrees. The humidity is 100 per cent though all the time. The cave's interior is quite calm and pleasant; it feels as if the ancient limestones were protecting their visitors, while also challenging them. The air is especially clean here, which is great for our lungs after the daily dose of smoke.

Rebirth brought to you by the Birth Stone

The shared experience and danger brings everyone closer, there's no doubt that you'll trust each other in every situation. The cavers once had to to push a 140-kg man through Szülő-szikla (Birth stone), because he was a fan of TV-shows about caving, and he couldn't resist to try his hand at it. At the end of the tour there's another stop at Függő-kert (Hanging Garden). The interior with the gorgeous dripstones (which are protected by law) is breathtaking here: it was shaped by water, rocks and tectonic movements. After a short break we continue our way back, but the climb is definitely not our best friend. Luckily, the path is familiar and fatigue means nothing. We climb the ladder back to the sunny reality with our bodies pumped up with adrenaline and minds enchanted by this formerly unknown and hidden place.

Photo: Budavári Dóra - We Love Balaton

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