Liam learned a new word today: spelunking. A mere 30 minutes from our house is the largest known and, according to the brochure, “one of the most beautiful” caves in the Athens area. Situated on the eastern slope of Mount Hymettos, it was first discovered in 1926 when a goat fell down through the entrance. Ha! I love it already!
We arrived at Koutouki Cave with a few friends and their kiddos. Liam was the oldest and most sullen. Eight going on thirteen, this one. But as we waited for the 11:30 tour–tours go every hour on the half hour from 8:30-3:30, seven days a week–we admired the view of the valley, hills and sea from a platform at the cave’s man-made entrance.
I stealthily snapped a photo before he could run away. Violet sat in her stroller having a snack attack. We bought tickets for 2 Euros, and all of the children were free. Inside we had to ditch the stroller…much to Violet’s dismay. Ah, two. Gotta love it. She eventually settled down, and our intrepid group set off through a winding staircase path as our friendly guide illuminated all of the features of the cave with a flashlight. He told us many schools have field trips there, so he catered the information for the little ones.
Let me just say that I stand behind the assertion that this is one of the most beautiful caves in the region. Glittery stalactites and columns fill every cavern, and it is truly a wonder to behold. Our guide gleefully pointed out shapes that the rocks had formed — an ice cream cone, a lion, a camel — and the kids could easily reach out and touch the formations around them. Violet walked for a time, but mostly insisted on being carried while whimpering about her lost stroller, so I didn’t get any photos inside the cave. Just as well…an iPhone would hardly do it justice.
Our tour lasted about 30 minutes, and the highlight was definitely the soaring ceiling below the natural entrance where a goat accidentally fell in and the locals discovered the cave. There were many questions for our guide about this goat. Violet kept looking around making “baaa” noises, expecting a goat to pop its head around a rock formation. Liam wondered if the goat fell all the way to the bottom, some four or five stories below. Our guide said the floor wasn’t nearly so deep back then, so the goat was unharmed. Tectonic shifts are thought to have created this natural entrance…the goat hole, if you will. (*snicker*)
The temperature in the cave stays at a somewhat chilly 17 Celsius (62 F) all year round, so I’m glad I brought light jackets for the kids. I brought a sweater for myself, but all the a walking and toddler carrying kept me pretty toasty. Both kids seemed to enjoy the tour, which was great for school aged children, but also fun for little ones with so much to see and touch. The cave was well lit, and the stairs were easy to manage. I read that they’d recently re-paved the floors so they are less slippery.
We had a great time spelunking, and I highly recommend this activity for kids, especially for hot or rainy days. Because this is Greece, and there doesn’t appear to be a website for the cave, it’s best to call them at 210-923-2358 to confirm opening hours and tour times. Happy exploring!