The Rubicon, the longest uninterrupted underground river in the World!

Two weeks ago, I spent the weekend with one of my friend living in Liège, and we visited a cave and safari park. In the Safari park, it was raining most of the time, so the animals were hiding under trees, and apart from the zebras, they were not very brave to face the bad weather. I thought monochrome would suit the animals better :-)

Close to the Safari Park, you can find the Caves of Remouchamps, where an underground river, the Rubicon, is flowing through it. The  guide told us it was the longest uninterrupted underground river in the world (600 meters) !

The cave is divided into two different parts. During the first part, you can walk with a guide and visit what was first inhabited by Paleolithic hunters over 8 000 years ago then used as a shelter during WWII. You will cross several rooms, filled with geological wonders, including impressive stalagmites and stalactites that look like elephants or the Virgin Mary for example.

The second part is visited by boat, during roughly 20 minutes. Watch your head and your hands, because the little tunnel is quite narrow :-) It was really dark over there, and the boat was moving, therefore, impossible to take pictures of the river…. but I managed to take a few pictures of the caves.

On some pictures, you can see some green patches and even plants ! This is not a natural phenomenon for caves and this is known as the “Lamp Flora” problem. Mosses, algae and even plants colonized illuminated areas in caves visited massively by tourists. Some people believe it’s a major distortion of the cave ecosystem since people use chemicals to clean the walls that will often destroy or induce slow corrosion of limestone.

If we wish to preserve the caves in their original state, maybe we have to rethink the accessibility of them or try to find other way of lighting (maybe less aggressive, no continuous lightening, fewer visits). It was a nice cave, but I have mixed feelings about it.

Oh well, the most important thing is that I had a nice day out with my friend ! :-)

What’s your favourite cave btw ? I think I quite like the Lofthellir cave I visited in Iceland last year :-)

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104 responses to “The Rubicon, the longest uninterrupted underground river in the World!

  1. Pingback: The caves of Han-sur-Lesse, a beautiful natural wonder | Darwin on the rocks and around the world·

  2. From these caves to the floating islands in Peru we see the effect of tourism. So fascinating for us to visit and yet we leave our footprints. Wonderful photos of the zebra. So creative in your perspectives and yes I love the monochrome.

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    • yes, it’s the same problem everywhere, at different scale. I don’t know if you have heard about the famous Lascaut cave in France, where you can find a lot of prehistoric drawings. They closed it but recreated the same for tourists to explore and it’s amazingly well done. it could be an alternative.. and yet, I would have the feeling to have missed something.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for showing the Rubicon! Feeling like Julius Caesar right now :) Also thank you for the idea to make a post about caves – we have a few caves here too. Good luck with your travels!

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  4. Great b&w! The zebra and big bird expressions are priceless. You converted from color? How did you know they would look good?? I’m still stumped about this. :D And that’s sad about the plants. It is so hard to preserve yet share nature. And as for a favorite cave… I’m not a fan! In fact, none come to mind. Have I ever been in a cave? Ha ha! Okay, yes, the “cave” at Cave and Basin in Banff.

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      • Hmm I’m moving to the uk tonight/tomorrow morning, so … I have no time to take care of my blog anymore. It’s already difficult to visit the blogs I follow… not talking about writing a blog post. Sooooo… going self-hosted will wait a bit I think ;-);-);-)

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        • Oh gosh… I know exactly what you mean and I have a tiny fraction of the number of followers and commenters that you have. I get the impression you are very organized! :D I would love to spend more time reading other blogs and writing more posts but, like so many others, it’s simply not possible unless I give up everything else. Hope your move went well and all the best in your new home! I’m excited for you and your changes.

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    • Yes, I always take pictures in colour (mostly because I don’t know how to shoot in b&w :D). I think if the contrast looks good in colour, it will look good in b&w. Then you can post process a bit.

      Some people feel anxious about visiting a cave, and I can understand the feeling. I’ve googled the Cave and basin, is a part of it a swimming pool ?

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      • Good point about colour! Although I can’t see good contrast in colour at this point. Maybe I’m overthinking it but I tend to focus more on composition and wing everything else. :D
        Yes! The Cave and Basin is a historical site that is built overtop the first hot springs discovered by settlers. It’s what started up Banff as a tourism destination. The Cave and Basin site did have a laned swimming pool as well as two natural pools but the swimming pool was closed years ago, one natural pool is filled with endangered snails (and is closed to bathing/soaking) and the other was/is part of the exhibit. The site went through extensive renovations in the last few years and I’m hoping to finally get inside and see what they’ve done this summer. I hope they’ve kept the cave! It stunk like sulphur and was dark and mysterious. I loved to go inside and see how long I could stay until I couldn’t stand the smell anymore. :) Have you been to Banff??

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Your zebra pictures are awesome! Your are handling the new camera well. The cave also looks like a great place to visit. It is always fun and interesting going into these ‘out of the earth’ places. Unfortunately human influence is the result often for places that become very popular. I guess we can take comfort in that there are probably hundreds of caves out there we haven’t discovered yet where there is not influence at all:)

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  6. Lovely images :) Oh I love caves and tunnels. I don’t have any in particular as my favorite though. They hold impressive stories and the nature looks was overwhelming. I have been to a cave in Belgium – Caves of Han. It was beautiful. I also like the sea caves in Thailand – but we had to use boat or kayak to see it..It is always impressive to see this type of nature I guess. Even underwater caves also nice to dive into :)

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      • I still have to write my experience in Caves of Han – and indeed, they were huge and remarkable! I would love to return again :) The area surrounding was also beautiful!
        Yes, I have been diving in several underwater caves, mostly in Caribbean – they have pretty awesome underwater caves :)

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  7. What a nice experience. And the photos of the zebras are very good. I wasn’t in so many caves yet. But I liked the Cueva de los Verdes on Lanzarote. And the Hermannshöhle and Baumannshöhle here in Germany located in the Harz.

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    • The caves in Germany look like the caves you can see in Belgium (no surprise, it’s not that far away, it’s probably the same kind of network due to the soil) but i googled some picture of the Cueva de los Verdes and it looks like another experience !!! Wow !!!

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    • Oh damn it, we were so close to the Great Basin when we went to the US, we should have visited !!!.. maybe next time :-) I look at some pictures of the Loltun cave and it looks quite nice as well ! Did you see some primitive drawings ?

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      • There were only a few in that cave. A hand painting. There was pottery around. It was just a beautiful cave in a nice location.

        Have you been to any caves in France? I went to that cave recreation at Chauvet. It was awesome but it was a fake created for tourists to see what the original looks like which made it kind of a bummer.

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  8. I love zebras and black and white suits them very well,
    The caves are beautiful. Thank you for the pictures.
    Have a nice evening and a good Sunday.

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  9. Beautiful shots of the zebras <3 I also love caves, but sometimes people feel the need to destroy them, so I'm with you on this one, about having mixed feelings. I hate to see names written on the cave's walls…
    A few years ago I went to a cave in Romania, and the tour included a 30 seconds in total darkness. It was very impressive, as our eyes have nothing to adjust to, so we're completely blind.

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    • That’s something that really pissed me off.. the people carving their names, grrr. I don’t see the point, seriously !!!

      In Iceland, we also stayed a few minutes in the complete darkness and it was amazing. A nice experience :-)

      Enjoy your weekend :-)

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Loving that cute zebra – black and white suits him!! The caves sound amazing, love that you walk a bit and then take a boat trip – variety is always good for us. The Caves of Drach in Majorca are impressive, we listened to some classical musicians perform there which was very cool.

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  11. Great cave photos! I didn’t realize what an impact tourism had on caves, but it’s not surprising. It’s so hard to find a balance between making beautiful places accessible to all and preserving them for the future (and of course the animals/plants that live there)

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    • In Lascaux in France, they had to close the cave to the tourist, but the cave was sick and was starting to secrete plenty of thing and destroy the prehistoric paintings… So in a way, I knew tourist could have an impact but I didn’t really know about the plants.

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    • Thanks ! I was experimenting a bit. Usually, I’m not really attracted by monochrome (well, I like seeing them on other blogs, but for me, it’s difficult to like my own b&w pictures), but this time, I quite like the result !!

      Have a lovely weekend :-)

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  12. My favourite cave I visited was one of Waitomo caves in New Zealand. It was a 100m abseil into It & several hours to hike/swim/climb out of it with just a head torch & glow worms for illumination. It felt a million miles from anywhere.

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  13. What a fascinating place to visit. I love caves. They always seem so mysterious. I’ve never been in ones such as this though. Beautiful pictures. Thanks for sharing another remarkable destination in the world.

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    • I agree with you. I share the same feeling about how mysterious they are. I love to hear about stories featuring pirates, beggars, gold diggers hiding in these caves. There are always amazing stories (I’m sure a lot of them are not true). And of course, some of them are really old and you can see old paintings and drawings. I love them !

      I wouldn’t go to Belgium especially for this, but if you are around, why not visiting :D

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  14. What friendly animals, the zebras especially. It looks like it looked right at you and is a bit of a poser. To be honest, I have never visited a cave like that in my life :O Pity to hear that chemicals are used to clean the cave…and I don’t know about the mosses and other plants growing on the rocks too. I always thought they weren’t that good for the caves, as you mentioned :/

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    • The zebras really acted like domestic horses. They were waiting for food…. Since it’s a safari, people are driving with their car on a road in the middle of the park containing all the animals. It’s forbidden to give them food, but everyone is doing it. So the zebras are coming close to each car in order to get some food :-(

      Oh really ? Are you scared, didn’t get the chance or not really interested by caves ? :-)

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      • I would never offer food to an animal while on a safari trip like that. I really do not want the animal to get all too excited and tip over the car, and get hurt and hurt the people inside :/

        Ahaha! More like I’ve never had a chance to see caves. But, one day ;)

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  15. Great photos Gin and I love the black and white zebras! I haven’t been to many caves but there are some good ones down in the SW of Western Australia and I have been down those. I remember one occasion when I carried our younger daughter all the way round (she was about 9 months old) and I was so worried as it was quite slippery on the board walk so although the caves were amazing I was more concerned with holding onto my daughter!! Have a lovely weekend :)

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    • I can imagine how dangerous a cave can be for children that are running around everywhere :D I’m really attracted to caves, and when we visit a new place, I always want to visit some caves nearby. I love the atmosphere !

      I’ve heard that cave painting was popular in Australia and that you can see amazing drawings. Have you ever seen them ?

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      • Alas I haven’t seen cave paintings here yet Gin – there are certainly some possibly more in the outback. If there were any in the caves we visited I don’t think I’d have noticed as I was too distracted at the time!

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    • We stayed in the car, and we drove through the park a bit “safari-like”. But people don’t respect rule and pet and give food to the animals, especially the zebras. So… yes, it was nice to see the zebras, but I had a wrong feeling about that. I would prefer to see them in the wild :D:D:D

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      • It’s a shame the people who say they love or are interested are the same people making it harder on animals. I watched a program on India, there is a small area untouched. They even separate all the animals so they won’t cross bred. That’s be kind of respect. Your photos are spectacular. I’ve been falling since the photos of Galapagos. I have a long way to go but not going for professional ability, just great.
        Have an awesome day/night.
        :)
        M

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yes, I completely agree with you. You know, I really love animals and nature in general, but I couldn’t resolve myself to pet them or give them food. I know it was wrong, and I was dying to do it !!Even the person sat next to me in the car did it….

          I didn’t know about that in India, it sounds indeed interesting. It sounds like an interesting program.

          Thanks for the nice words about my pictures :-) Have a lovely week !

          Liked by 1 person

  16. Stunning photos and love the flora in the cave. In Iceland the cave is close and we only managed to go one which is not close but it is too slippery with ice that we can’t go further in due it is too dangerous.

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      • Yea, do agree with you. As I been to Huang Lung Cave in China, simply love it but they have put too much different lighting make it more attractive. It is kinda of bling messing the nature beauty of the cave. Hope that one day, they will use the infra red light that will not hurt the wild life.

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  17. In Cusco there are caves called Chincanas, apparently were used with military or tactical uses. But there are reports of weird thinks, like temples, treasures and rivers. I only went to the “little” chincana when child and at university and it has nothing of light, you have to follow and trust a leader and grab strongly to you partner from the waist but you’re lost…
    I’m sure there is a solution, perhaps spectacles of night vision or light in a different wavelength. Eight thousand years…

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    • Caves are always fascinating and trigger a lot of urban legends. I quite like hearing about them, I think it’s so interesting. Thieves and pirates hiding their treasures or their gold… etc. I think I would be a bit scared to walk in the dark (just in case I touch a spider :D). Do they have spiders in Chincanas caves ?

      Yes, I’m sure there are solution, but it will be synonym of less visit. For the moment, there is a visit each 30 minutes (sometimes with 60 people in each group). It’s way too much !

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      • Hard to say, there is absolutely no light in those visits and we don’t touch the rocky walls. The guide lead us by memory and the chincana (just the “little chincana” because the “big chingana” is closed since an accident with some people decades ago) is the blackest place I’ve ever been.
        In the big chincana people says that there is gold hidden by nobility when Spaniards kill the Inca despite the pay for his rescue; that treasure is cursed and an Inca, made of fire, watch it.

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    • No, I didn’t use flash. These caves are really well lit near the boat embarkation (probably too much.. since you can see all this vegetation growing there, but it’s probably to avoid injuries… or people falling in the water :D). In some other parts, it was slightly better.

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    • Je me sens toujours fascinée par les grottes.. surtout quand je pense à ces personnes qui se sont cachées ou qui y ont vécu. Est-ce qu’il y a beaucoup de grottes par chez toi ?

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      • Autour de chez moi, il n’y a pas de grottes. J’habite dans le Bordelais et ici c’est plutôt la culture de la vigne. Nous avons également
        des plages à perte de vue .
        Les dernières grottes que j’ai visité sont au Vietnam dans la baie d’halong. Superbe!
        Belle soirée à toi

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  18. You can bring African animals to Europe, but you can’t bring the weather too :-D But I think that the first picture of the zebra is perfect! And the others are very nice as well.
    We have quite a lot of beautiful caves in Slovakia. I also remember the guides in some of them talking about the “lamp flora” problem. It’s a difficult problem to solve I guess :-/

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    • Haha, yeah… difficult to have that kind of weather here :p

      I’ve never been to Slovakia, but I have heard that the country counts more than 2000 caves :D It must be awesome to visit (I’m sure some of them must be more impressive than others :-))

      In France, they had to close Lascaut because it was slowly deteriorating :-(

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