Aven d'Orgnac, one of the largest caves in the world

Aven d'Orgnac Travel Blog

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Stalagmites

The French word Aven can be best translated to English with the word Pitch. Then, what is a pitch? In the caving world it is a word for a vertical drop or shaft. The English caving vocabulary also knows the word Aven, but that word is usually used for a pitch that is discovered from below, so a vertical rise.

In the case of the Aven d'Orgnac we are speaking of a vertical drop, so, the Pitch of Orgnac. The gaping hole in the forest near the village of Orgnac had been known by the people in the village for a long time. But nobody dared to descend into it, and thus nobody knew what was beneath.

That changed in 1938 when cave explorer Robert de Joly and his team actually descended into the gaping hole in the forest.

Stalactites
 After 30 meters of descending along a rope they ended up in the first room of the huge system. The space measured 90 x 125 meters. Apart from magnificent stalactites and stalagmites he found a huge pile of debris right below the gaping hole. The debris consisted of rocks and mostly skeletons of unfortunate animals that had fallen into the hole. Among them even a reindeer and a bison!

Further explorations lead to the discovery of many more rooms, all filled with stunning geological formations. The caves were made more accesible by constructing a stairs tunnel, that prevents visitors form having to slide down via a rope, and an elevator that conveniently hoists the guest back to the surface. Only three rooms are visited in the regular one-hour tour. The last room is 120 meters below the surface.

The tour was very impressive. It was also good for my French. I think I understood about 60% of the explanations of the guide, who rushed us through the cave system.

More pictures below!

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Stalagmites
Stalagmites
Stalactites
Stalactites
Willem at the bottom of the long s…
Willem at the bottom of the long …
The original aven. The red spot …
The original 'aven'. The red spot…
Stalagmites
Stalagmites
Stalagmites
Stalagmites
Columns
Columns
Stalagmites
Stalagmites
Stalactites
Stalactites
Columns
Columns
Aven d'Orgnac
photo by: mdalamers