I'm definitely not the outdoorsy type. I'm more of a "I like to drink on patio's, with optional shade" type. Come on, we all have a friend like that. But activities like spelunking, are totally MY type of thing, or at least they are now. I've waited to go canyoning for years, so I figured this will just be the dryer, more underground type. Aka not canyoning at all, but adventurous! I'd been to Budapest before, but with only 5 nights there, my friend and I stuck to the main sights and scenes. This time around, I wanted to repeat a couple of things (like visiting the castle!), but I knew I needed to incorporate something completely new!
My travel friend Jeska and I were chatting up the receptionist at our hotel and she put a few brochures in front of us to consider. I really enjoy researching places before I go, but I was surprised that I had never read about this or even heard about spelunking in Budapest from another traveler! Therefore this makes it one of the best kept secrets of Budapest, in my opinion!
Let's do a run down of what spelunking is, then if you're curious enough you can hear the summarized version of how my experience went, you can read on. I guess people aren't calling it spelunking as much anymore and they just call it caving, which yes, is the same thing, but really- which one is more fun to say? Please note: For those of you that are afraid of caves, get claustrophobic or have seen the move "The Decent" this may not be for you. Moving on... spelunking, is the exploration of caves. You've got a helmet with a headlamp on your head (or at least you should), proper clothing, prepare to get covered in dirt, and have comfortable shoes to move in. Jeska and I weren't exactly prepared for this day, so we both wore our hunter boots and jeans, but we were better off than the girl in ballet flats with socks.
Pro tip: the morning of the tour, I recommend cutting back on the coffee and water. You'll be underground for a couple of hours, aka without restrooms. Early in the morning we made our way to the metro stop, where we were to meet the guide and the rest of the people on the tour. Then we hopped on a bus to the main office, that is about 20 minutes outside of the center. After a quick introduction from our guide, whose name in Hungarian meant "Solid" in English, we called ourselves Team Solid! He gave us a little overview of how the tour will go and then provided us with the gear. Which included our zip up jumpsuits (see the photos) a helmet with a light and they even had a few pairs of boots on hand, but not enough for the whole group.
Once everyone was all suited up, we headed toward the mountains and then we stopped in front of a cave. Almost immediately after entering into the cave, you will go down a long, very long, metal ladder, down into the dark, down into the unknown! I'd never done anything like this, so I must say, I was quite excited and my hands were a bit balmy on the ladder. I tried to stay toward the front or the middle, I had no intention of being the last person...you know why.
I had no idea how strenuous this day would be, it was a good work out in the end. We thought we were just going to walk around, see some stalagmites and maybe a few stalactites. Ummm no. We were literally arming crawling through some of the holes. At point, you literally have to be small enough (skinny enough), to get through some of the passages. Or else you're left there to turn around alone! Kidding. There were other ways to walk around the small parts, but that was up to you to decide. Go through the itty bitty space... where literally just your hips pass through and everyone is waiting for you to get through. Or hop around the other side. Some people didn't have an option, there were some bigger guys in the group, rugby player types and they couldn't fit through even if they wanted to! Solid, our Hungarian guide, was such a hoot. He talked us through everything, told us stories and he pulled a solid good joke on me at one point. He had been hiding around the corner of a boulder and I thought he was up ahead. Boy oh boy did he get me, by grabbing me from the side as I passed him unknowingly. Minor heart attack, no big deal.
We all had a blast. This is something that I've wanted to find and do in other countries now and honestly if I'm ever back in Budapest, which I sure plan to be, I will make time to do this again!