Duhlata Cave

The Whale

“Duhlata” is the longest cave in Bulgaria. It is a complex maze cave system, with multiple entrances, spreading on six levels and the total length of its galleries is more than 20 km. It is located in the karst area in Vitosha Mountain, close to the village of Bosnek, near the city or Pernik.

The terrain in the area is mountainous at an altitude hovering around 900-1000 meters.

7 underground rivers cross the Duhlata Cave, proven to connect with the Struma River, whose source is located at 2246 meters above the sea level, some 250 meters south of the the summit of Vitosha Mountain – “Cherni Vrah” (2290 m). Each of these rivers has formed its own passages and parts of the cave that interconnect with separate, usually single connections. All rivers flow into the “The Big River” and reappear on the surface above the karst spring “Gornata Cheshma” [translated as The Upper Spring] in the village of Bosnek.

Researchers found 22 cave species in the cave, including 6 species of bats. The cave hosts a wide variety of speleothems.

It was designated as natural landmark by order No. 2810 of 10.10.1962.

Temperature: + 9/+ 12

Routes, short description and approximate duration
    1. Star vhod – Urinarnika – Sintrovo mazè – Prikazki

[The names of the galleries are meaningful and are given in English in square brackets following the transliterated version: The Old Entrance – The Pee Hall – The Sinter Cellar – Fairy Tales]

  • Duration 4 hours.
  • The route is not complicated and poses no special requirements to the group (age and capabilities).
    1. Nov vhod – Tronni zali – Grand Canyon – Prikazki – Sintrovo mazè – Urinarnika – Star vhod

[The New Entrance – Thone Halls – Grand Canyon – The Fairy Tales – The Sinter Cellar – The Pee Hall – The Old Entrance]

  • Duration 6 hours.
  • The route features medium complexity, combining narrow passages with some crawling (suitable for all ages, requires good physical training).
    1. Star Vhod – Urinarnika – Ribkata – Kitovata Usta – Mulnii – Passage Vicontina – Ribkata – Urinarnika – Star Vhod

[The Old Entrance – The Pee Hall – The Fish – The Whalebone – The Lightnings – The Passage Vicontina – The Fish – The Pee Hall – The Old Entrance]

  • Duration 7-8 hours.
  • Tight squeezes that require some technical climbing skills. Suitable for people of all ages with good physical training.
    1. Star Vhod – Urinarnika – Ribkata – 9 September – Tesnyaka na Lidka – Palamudi Hall – Strezov Hall – Rumyanka Hall – Grancharnici – Malkia Labyrinth – Lidka’s Squeeze – 9 September – Ribkata – Star Vhod (if the group is moving fast enough they can opt for a different way out via 9 September – Gashtosvala – Stenata na placha – Tronni Zali – Nov vhod)

[The Old Entrance – The Pee Hall – The Fish – The September 9th Squeeze – Lidka’s Squeeze – The Bonitos Hall – Strezov Hall – Rumyanka Hall – The Potteries – The Small Maze – Lidka’s Squeeze – The September 9th Squeeze – The Fish – The Old Entrance] if the group is moving fast enough they can opt for a different way out via The September 9th Squeeze – The Panty Remover – The Wailing Wall – Throne Halls – The New Entrance

  • Duration 10 hours.
  • This is the most complex of the routes on the list, including some of the most beautiful and distant halls. Suitable for a well prepared, quickly moving, physically fit group.

Complexity (for each of the routes)
The routes are listed starting with the easiest – 1 to the most complex – 4.

Equipment required
Standard caving equipment for horizontal caves – caving coveralls, boots, helmet, lighting, gloves.

Participants must have a bottle of water and energy bars. There is a restaurant in the village, which offers warm meals, but closes in the evenings and is an option only if the group exits the cave by 8 pm.

Departure time
9 am from the Red Cross National Training Centre (or earlier, depending on the agenda).


Photos from the cave by Tzvetan Ostromski and Boyan Shanov.