Pazin is a charming small town and the largest city in central Istria. It serves as the administrative capital of the region. Despite having a population of less than 9,000 residents, Pazin has a few interesting attractions to offer.
One of the main tourist attractions in the city is the Pazin Castle, which pleasantly surprised me. This ancient castle, which is over 1200 years old, has gone through many changes of ownership throughout the centuries. However, it remains in remarkable condition. What sets it apart is that it has retained its natural charm instead of being overly modernized.
Another attraction worth mentioning is the giant canyon situated directly behind the castle. This canyon is home to the Pazin Cave, also known as Pazinska Jama. The cave offers Speleo Adventures, where visitors can take a two-hour tour inside. Although I have traveled to over 45 countries in my life, including 37 in the past five years, this was a unique experience that I had never encountered before.
The adventure begins at the top of the large canyon, where we were introduced to Mladen, the manager, and his team of two guides, both named Sasha. Mladen and his wife have been offering tours since 2013 and have spent the past decade creating trails and installing necessary equipment to make the tours possible. They explained that the tour season is brief and starts after the winter rains recede. Even during the offseason, Mladen and his team are busy preparing the trails and ensuring everything is in good condition.
Equipped with helmets and headlamps, we made our way down the moderately challenging trail to the bottom of the canyon, where the Pazinčica river flows, forming the Pazinska Jama. The vivid green colors of the foliage and rocks were particularly striking due to the presence of moss. Sasha, our female guide, guided us through the process of connecting to the first of two ziplines, which took us inside the first section of the cave. The other Sasha awaited our arrival, and from there, we proceeded to explore the cave step by step. While there was some challenge in navigating the slippery rocks, the cave was well-prepared with ropes and metal foot holdings for safety.
Undoubtedly, this adventure can be intimidating for some due to the hiking, climbing, and reliance on ziplines. However, all concerns can be set aside as the tour proves to be not only fun and adventurous but also highly informative. Throughout the tour, our guides educated us on the cave, showing us stalactites and stalagmites hanging from the ceiling, as well as explaining their growth from the cave floor. We learned that the cave often floods due to winter rains, preventing excessive growth. At its lowest point, the cave ends with 80 meters of rock above and complete darkness.
As we reached this point, we experienced an overwhelming darkness like nothing I had ever encountered before. Appreciating the value of sight and light, Sasha #2 treated us to a photo exhibition in complete darkness, showcasing the cave’s endemic life, such as frogs, salamanders, and shrimp. He also shared archival photos that demonstrated the cave’s power and the effects of massive flooding.
During our “Speleo Adventure,” we encountered a family with two small children, aged eight and 12. Despite some initial fear, the youngest child managed to overcome it, showcasing that anyone can participate. The guides even mentioned escorting a young boy born without arms into the cave, which was an emotional experience for everyone.
To enjoy the Pazin Cave Tour, it is essential to wear comfortable shoes with good traction. Apart from that, all you need is a sense of adventure and the desire to try something not commonly done. I highly recommend making a reservation and connecting with them on Facebook or Pazin Pit for more information.
About the author:
Norm Bour has been traveling full-time as a journalist and nomad since leaving the US in 2019 with his wife, Kathleen. They embarked on this journey at ages 64 and 65 and have visited 35 countries since then, totaling 47 different ones. His mission as a baby boomer is to inspire and motivate others in the “Fifty Plus” age group to experience life to the fullest. Norm and Kathleen have found a higher quality of life outside the US with less money and share their experiences and lessons learned on their blog, www.TravelYounger.com. Norm recently published a book called “Nomadic Life for All Ages” which can be found here: [link to Amazon].