Jaskinia Niedźwiedzia

Niedźwiedzia Cave - Bears' Cave


Useful Information

photography
Entrance Building, Niedźwiedzia Cave, Poland. Public Domain.
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Cave Museum with cave bear cave lian skeleton, Niedźwiedzia Cave, Poland. Public Domain.
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Cave Bear, Niedźwiedzia Cave, Poland. Public Domain.
Location: 5km south of Stronie Slaskie (Seitenberg). Kletno Quarry near Kłodzko, Śnieżnik Massif.
(50.23466825520029, 16.84261922704703)
Open: JAN to APR Tue-Wed, Fri-Sun 9-16:40.
MAY to AUG Tue-Sun 9-16:40.
SEP to NOV Tue-Wed, Fri-Sun 9-16:40.
[2021]
Fee: SEP to JUN Adults PLN 32, Children (4-16) PLN 25, Children (0-3) free, Students PLN 25, Disabled PLN 25.
JUL to AUG Adults PLN 35, Children (4-16) PLN 30, Children (0-3) free, Students PLN 30, Disabled PLN 30.
Photography PLN 10, Filming PLN 15.
Cave Trekking Adults PLN 200.
Reservation recommended, online or phone.
[2021]
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave dolomitic limestone, dolomitic marble.
Light: electric.
Dimension: L=4,081m, VR=118m, A=790m asl, T=6°C. V=150.000/a.
Guided tours: D=45min, L=400m, 800m asl.
Photography: forbidden
Accessibility:  
Bibliography: Polish Cave Cadastre, SI-03.17.
Antoni Ogorzalek (1989): Jaskinia Niedzwiedzia w Kletnie, 21 pp, 12 colour photos, maps survey etc. Krajowa Agencja Wydawnicza.
Address: Zaklad Uslug Turystycznych "Jaskinia Niedźwiedzia", ul. Kosciuszki 55, 57-550 Stronie Slaskie, Tel: +48-74-8141-250.
Reservation, Tel: +48-74-8141-250.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

1966 discovered during mining in the newly established quarry Kletno III and 200m explored by M. Pulina and M. Ciężkowski.
26-JAN-1972 discovery of lower level and 1,000m of new passages.
1975 start of development as a show cave.
1982 exploration of 2 more kms.
1983 opened to the public.

Description

photography
Niedźwiedzia Cave, Poland. Public Domain.
photography
Niedźwiedzia Cave, Poland. Public Domain.
photography
Cave Exit, Niedźwiedzia Cave, Poland. Public Domain.

Jaskinia Niedźwiedzia w Kletnie (Bear Cave in Kletno, Bärenhöhle bei Klessengrund) is called the most beautiful cave of Poland. It is also famous for rich bone finds of cave bears, cave lions, hyena, roe deer and others. Several excavations took place, before the cave was opened to the public.

The cave is located in a marble quarry, and was discovered during quarry works in 1966. The quarry was extended and right after the third pit Kletno III was opened, the cave was discovered, which stopped all further works. After its discovery 200m of the cave were explored which made clear, that an exceptional cave was discovered and must be protected. So the quarrying was stopped and the cave explored and surveyed. In the first year the cavers M. Pulina and M. Ciężkowski discovered 200m of the middle level. In 1967 the team A. Piesiewicz, M. Pulina, and T. Wiszniowska discover the most important parts of the middle level. Additional discoveries were made in 1968, 1969, and 1971. In 1972 the team J. Bieroński, Z. Dumański, K. Łukasiewicz, J. Panek, M. Pulina, and J. Sądej discover the lower level and explore about 1000m of new cave passages. Now the cave was 1,800m long.

At the same time excavations were carried out in the sediments of the Bear Hall and the Lion Hall. After the excavations were made, the trails for the show cave were started. During the next eight years the cave was slowly developed, with an entrance building, an artificial exit, trails and electric light. The areas where trails for the show cave were planned were excavated before the trails were built. A huge entrance building which is used as ticket office, cafe, and cave museum, was built. It became the home of reassembled skeletons of cave bear, cave lion and cave hyena. The cave entrance is also designed to keep the temperature of the cave on a constant level. The door is air tight and is opened only for a few minutes for every tour. The cave was finally opened to the public in 1983 and immediately became quite popular.

The explorations continued but between 1972 and 1992 only 450m of new passage were discovered, the length of the cave was 2,230m. It has three levels, the upper is mostly destroyed by the quarry, the middle one is the place of the show cave, and the lower level is not open to the public. It has water filled passages, is the active level with the underground cave river. To explore this level divers were needed. In 2010 the next generation of explorers started a complete resurvey of the cave. At the same time the the exploration of open leads was intensified. Multiple leads were check and various new passages discovered, and after the very productive year 2012, the cave reached its current length of 4,081m.

The cave is located in the Śnieżnik Massif, which consists of metamorphic and plutonic rocks of Precambrian age, approximately 600 million years old. The metamorphic limestone or marble is surrounded by insoluble rocks. The result is called contact karst: the water flows on the surface and becomes quite acidic from biogene acids produced by plants. As soon as it reaches the marble it immediately starts the karstification and flows underground through the patch of marble. On the lower end the insoluble rocks end the underground drainage and the water reappears in spring and again flows on the surface. There are multiple such lenses of marble in the Sudetes. The local terms for contact karst are kras sudecki (Sudeten karst) or kras wyspowy (island karst).

The name of the cave is a result of the huge number of bones discovered in the cave, especially cave bear (Ursus spelaeus). The ways in which those bones were deposited actually differed. The cave bear hibernated in the cave, and sometime a bear died in the cave. Many other bones were brought to the cave by the cave hyena, who typically brings the dead corpses into the cave and eats the flesh here. The bones of all kinds of animals who normally do not visit caves accumulate. Actually the cave lion was not a cave lion, the corpses were actually brought in by the hyena. And finally there is the possibility that bones are washed into the cave. The cave river flows above ground until it reaches the limestone, and any kind of stuff, including dead animals, is washed into the cave.

The cave is located at the end of a valley. The road from Kletno to Janowa Gora first follows the valley but then turns right and leaves the valley. Right at this turn is the parking lot of the cave, from here its a 1.5km/30 minutes walk up the valley on a paved single lane road. By the way, in the other direction its only 200m to the MineEdukacyjna w Starej Kopalni Uranu w Kletnie. This is a museum about the local uranium mining history which is also worth a visit.

Niedźwiedzia offers Trasa Ekstremalna (Extreme Route), which is a cave trekking tour into the Old Lower Parts of the cave. This is quite funny, as the cave was discovered in 1966 from the surface and the low level was the last which was explored, so there is nothing old about this part of the cave. Even from the geologic point of few caves develop downwards and so the low parts are the youngest. It seems marketing phrases do not necessarily make sense. The operators postulate that this is the only cave trekking tour in Poland.