Temnata dupka

Dark Hole

Useful Information

Location: Lakatnik, Sofia.
Open: no restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave
Light: bring torch
Dimension: L=9,000m
Guided tours:
Bibliography: Popov, V. V. (1986): Early Pleistocene Rodentia (Mammalia) from the Temnata Dupka Cave near Karlukovo (North Bulgaria) Acta Zool. Bulg. 30:3-14.
O. Drjanovska (1942): Excursion des étudiants-naturalistes de IVe cours dans la grotte "Temnata dupka" Prirodoznanie, Sofia, 3, 4: 155-157, en bulgare.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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Temnata Dupka (Dark Hole) is the country's most important Palaeolithic site, with artefacts and fauna in a sequence which may start as early as 130,000 BP. It is located with many other small caves in a wall of white limestone cliffs above Iskar River. On the southern side of the river lies the city Lakatnik, the 250 m high limestone cliff face on the north side is called Rocks of Lakatnik (Lakatnik Rocks). The limestone is karstified and there are numerous caves and springs in the cliff. At about half height a limestone ledge was used to build a path, which is popular for walking and an ideal access for climbers. It also connects several cave entrances including the entrance to Temnata Dupka.

It is easy to understand why the cave was so popular during the Palaeolithic. The cave has a huge portal and a dry entrance hall with flat floor, it is located high up in the cliff which offers a good outlook for prey and enemies. On the other hand it is accessible by the ledge of the limestone and facing south the entrance area is sunny and warm.

With a length of nine kilometers and some steep descents it is definitely a wild cave and not recommended for non cavers. However, it is easy to visit the entrance area when walking on the trail. Please be careful, take a torch with you and turn around when the floor becomes steep. Actually it is not a developed show cave, but it is heavily frequented by visitors of the Rocks of Lakatnik.

Another cave here is Rajishka Cave, another huge entrance with a flat floored hall behind. It is called Upper Cave or Dry Cave, but only the 24 m long entrance hall is dry. This cave is about 270 m long and heavily damaged by the visitors. A visit is rather easy, but be aware that it is a wild cave with uneven ground. Warm clothes, good light, sturdy boots and if possible a helmet are much recommended.

At the foot of the cliff is a karst spring called Jitolyub (also Zhitolub). It is the resurgence of the cave river of Temnata Dupka. The water of the spring flows down over some waterfalls and after only a few dozen meters meets the Iskar river. Around this waterfalls lies a popular beer garden.