Caving in the Pollino National Park

The necessity to find a shelter has always pushed human to explore the caves. The Pollino Orientale is one of the regions with the richest occurrence of karst caves in southern Italy.

"Cuzzuruni" or Pannobianco cave (Cerchiara di Cal.)

On the northeastern side of Monte Pannobianco, a few hundred meters from the Sanctuary of Madonna delle Armi, you can visit one of the deepest subterranean areas of Pollino Park. This small cave was visited by shepherds since ancient times, also because it was the main source of water supply. In fact, the dripping water was collected by the stalactites with pottery vessels called "cuzzuruni". The cave has karst formations of particular beauty and it is easily passable because their mostly horizontal nature. To reach the entrance, you have to start from the sanctuary and follow a path that leads up the slope of Monte Pannobianco.

Difficulty: medium    -    Duration: 40 min. (plus 2 hours approach)    -    Depth: 70 meters (horizontally)

Damale cave (Cerchiara di Cal.)

Located in the county of Damale, a few steps from the sulfur spring of the "Grotta delle Ninfe", it was discovered by G.S. Sparviere in 1977. The entrance, at the foot of the “Serra del Gufo” - rock bastion, was once used by shepherds to protect their animals. Entering the cave you will find the first shaft of 3 meters depth. Here begins the main corridor, which crosses two rooms full of concretions and some narrow spaces characterized by very beautiful water tanks. You will reach the entrance to the 26-meter-long shaft, a narrow rupture at the base of which the path climbs up to a large hall and a final bottleneck, which is the exit from the upper entrance of the cave (about 25 meters higher than the lower one) allows. From here you can enjoy a magnificent view of the Gulf of Sibari. 

Difficulty: medium    -    Duration: 1 h (plus 40 min approach)    -    Depth: 300 meters (horizontally, excluding the small jump at the beginning, up to the 26 m shaft)

Cave of the Elves (Cerchiara di Cal.)

During a discovery tour in July 1986 G.S. got over the small entrance into this cave at the foot of the western slope of Monte Sellaro, which he reached by climbing over a rocky ridge about 20 meters high. From the entrance, you will descend to negotiate the first 4 meters and then immediately follow a vertical stretch of 8 meters and one of 5 meters. From here begins a descending course marked by the imposing break in the rock, which has formed a milk-like formation here. At the end of the path, just before the landslide that blocks the passage, you come to the entrance of the 13 meter deep "Pozzo di Oberon", which leads to the bottom of the cave with -69 meters.

Difficulty: medium/high    -    Duration: 2 h (plus 1 h approach)    -    Depth: 250 meters horizontally - 70 meters vertical

Cave of Iron or "of the Brigands" (S. Lorenzo Bellizzi)

Among the caves in Pollino Park, this is the most demanding in ascent and technique. The entrance to the cave is on an overhanging tarred terrace over the middle of the wall of the Timpa di S. Angelo. In this area, the rock has a pink color, which is caused by the oxidation of iron minerals (hence the origin of the name "Banco di Ferro“).

To pass thought the steep path that leads to the cave, it is necessary to be equipped with a solid rope to secure yourself in the most demanding passages. The cave has a hight archaeological value, as numerous eyewitnesses (pottery) were found here. In the 30s, it was explored for the first time by Triestino Enzo Dei Medici.

The cave extends almost completely horizontally, with a few small jumps of a few meters, which can be mastered even without a rope. At the end of the exploration of the cave, you can either take the same path back or continue to the end of the terrace, which offers a beautiful view on the Monte Sellaro and the Raganelli Valley. From there you can rappel with a double rope on the walls of the Timpa.

Difficulty: medium    -    Duration: 1 h (plus 1 h approach)    -    Depth: 150 meters horizontally

Saint Paul's cave (Morano Cal.)

This beautiful cave in the municipality of Morano was explored for the first time in 1960. It is rich in concretions and known for its subterranean river, which traverses the lower parts of the cave. Called "Ramo del fiume" and closes the passage in the wettest months of the year. The cave's environment varies from large rooms with stalactite-covered vaults to small bottlenecks, making exploration very exciting. The upper entrance, which is only recommended for experienced cave climbers, begins with the descent of an 18 meter long shaft. The lower entrance provides direct access to the "ramo del fiume". Although less demanding than the upper route, it requires overcoming a bottleneck, a hard test for those suffer from claustrophobia.

Difficulty: high    -    Duration: 3 h    -    Depth: 560 meters horizontally - 47 meters vertical

REQUIRED EQUIPMENT: Cave suit, Harness, Helmet, Headlamp, Trekking or Cave boots, Descent equipment, Blocker and Carabiner. 

Where to stay ? "La Casa dell'Escursionista", in Cerchiara di Calabria above the club. This is a comfortable accommodation managed by our guides and designed for mountaineers, fitted with a relax-area with a climbing wall, hiking guides and maps of the park.


Some trips are difficult and require physical effort and technical skills. Participants must therefore be adequately trained in the chosen activity and equipped with appropriate clothing and equipment. Minors must be accompanied by their parents or another expressly designated person, or they must submit their written approval.
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