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The Pticha Dupka cave

The vertical Pticha Dupka cave is situated in Eastern Troyan Balkan and could be called a pearl among the Troyan cave because of its exclusive beauty. Its entrances are to the north of the site of Radya trap, surrounded by forest and there are no special landmarks to find them. The alpine climber Encho Petkov made the first attempt to enter inside the cave in 1948. In 1958 Bulgarian and Polish cave divers reached the bottom but its research continues in 1962, 1972 and in 1975 the first geological description of the region and the cave was accomplished. The local people know the locality of the entrances long ago. The above-situated one is more comfortable for descending. Its altitude is 1260 m. The length of the initial plummet is 65 m and downwards it becomes wider and reaches 10 m of diameter. On the bottom there are blocks and soil and other fallen materials mainly litter and foliage, cover them. However, the actual bottom of the cave is situated lower and could be reached without a rope. There is a small stream and two galleries go in opposite directions upwards and downwards. In fact, the descending one follows the stream. The main color of its walls is reddish. Overcoming plenty of blocks, two small vertical passages and one magnificent sinter lake the visitor reaches a hall about 30 m in length. The richness and variety of the formations here is exclusive cave pearls in small sinter cavities and lakes are seen as well as long, thin and carrot like stalactites, stalagmites, stalactones, rich draperies and stone waterfalls are all around. Here is the deepest point of the cave 108 m where the underground stream disappears in a siphon amidst fallen from the ceiling blocks. The total length of the descending gallery is 302 m.

The ascending gallery represents a series of vertical passages and halls and sinter lakes full of water cover its floor. The walls are showered with dendrites and antodites (calcite formations resembling flowers) and sparkling helectites and corallites are seen inside. In the last hall the whole underground richness of the cave formations could be seen. There are plenty of petrified waterfalls, stalactites, stalactones, stone columns spread all over. All are stained in the most gentle and warm colors. The azure sinter lake full of yellow pearls and stone lilies top up the heavenly beauty of the hall. To keep this fragile beauty it is necessary to put your shoes off in the previous hall and to go in sock feet ahead. Besides the various precautions, which we can take while visiting such kind of galleries and halls we have to know that every visit detracts from their beauty. So, the best, which could be done for their protection, is to avoid visiting them if there is no urgent need. The cave formations are beautiful only underground at the exact place where the nature has created them. The lack of understanding of this fact is reason many of the unique in their beauty underground formations in Bulgaria to be already irrevocably destroyed by careless cave divers who after crushing and bringing them in their homes soon realized this and throw them away as a garbage. Thus, cave peals, stalactites, helectites, stalagmites which the nature has been created for dozens and hundreds thousands of years are simply junked by the men.

The total length of Pticha Dupka is 652 m and its depth is 108 cm. The name of the cave comes from the fact that there is a colony of alpine chows inhabiting it. Their nests are situated along the walls of the long initial vertical passage and the birds raise their nests in scarce and even absent sun light. Other dwellers of the cave are the troglobiont snail Spinophallus uminskii and troglobiont shrimp Niphargus bureschi and the millipede Anamastigona alba is endemic for Pticha Dupka and Kumanitsa. Spiders, harvestmen and beetles also inhabit the cave.

Pticha Dupka is also famous for the experience of the cave diver from Troyan Emilia Todorova who spent more than two months underground doing some research of the physiological changes provoked by long stay underground.

Entering the vertical cave Pticha Dupka demands specialized caving experience for using of vertical technique. The attempts of people who are not skilled enough for visiting it as well as the risk of getting lost in the forest while looking for its entrance are considerable. Since the cave is in a strict reserve Steneto in the Central Balkan for performing of research inside it is necessary to agree it in advance with MoEW and the National Park Directorate.

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