Getting dirty when spelunking Warsaw Caves in Kawarthas
I had never heard of Warsaw caves. I had never imagined that caves with the name of Polish capital would be located in Canada and not in Poland. And most of all, I did not find out how beautiful and unique these caves are until I spent 3 days in Peterborough and Kawarthas, a bit North of Toronto in the beginning of June 2013.
Situated at 289 Caves Road 30 min North East of Peterborough, the Warsaw caves offer its visitors 7 different caves. There’s another thing I learned during our visit. I’ve been called rare names, but spelunker? Seemed weird to me! Anyway, I am really a spelunker! Yes, together with my friends we were all spelunking the caves on that sunny morning- exploring the caves (the first time I heard the term spelunker = caver).
How were the Warsaw caves formed?
The Warsaw caves are characterized by limestone bedrock covering the entire region over 350 million years ago already since the Paleozoic era. The area changed with each ice age and the ancient rivers looking similar to the modern-day Niagara River formed the landscape leaving karst cliffs, kettles and caves we find here today. The chemical erosion of the limestone bedrock is responsible for creating the caves. The caves are stable now with no water flowing through them so safe to explore. Frankly, no need to worry that the rocks would fall on you!
Wear comfy shoes that won’t slide, a flashlight/headlamp and clothing that you don’t mind getting dirty because trust me, you will get dirty! It was the first caves I’ve ever visited, and I’ve been to pretty few, where I got all muddy. The first couple of minutes I was a bit disgusted and didn’t want to touch all the wet rocks when squeezing in between them to explore the caves, but then it all changed and I began to enjoy it! It was part of the adventure, right?
We only entered the first cave that was rather easy but it’s definitely not for claustrophobic people! Sometimes you will find yourself with very little space between your body and the rocks and also a bit of climbing is necessary. If you feel uncomfortable in an enclosed space, you could begin with cave #5 which is the most open of the 7 Warsaw Caves.
Me and my new friend Pablo were always the last ones to move through the cave as we needed to get some pics first 🙂
The caves are designated by numbers (signs of a number in a red triangle) so easy to spot. Please go there with a guide or at least ask for a brochure explaining how to get in and through the caves as the caves are connected to each other.
The only thing I didn’t like at the caves were some silly graffiti inside. Why are some people so stupid and have to destroy the natural wonders?
No alcohol, no smoking, no litter, no damaging the caves, no dogs in the caves (they don’t even really want to go there, trust me!), no spelunking alone. Also watch out for poison ivy so try to step on the stones and not plants.
There’s a lot more to do in the Conservation area but caves. We took the K trail leading to the big kettle. We saw a few kettles, also called rockmills or potholes, formed by granite stones stuck in the river current and trying to make their way through into the limestone. The biggest kettle was so impressive! Unfortunately, our tight schedule didn’t let us to hike up any longer so we missed the views from the scenic lookout 30 m above the Indian River (with L sign). We only made it walking to the river to see where it disappears underground and crossed the small wooden footbridge.
Also camping and canoeing is very popular in the Warsaw Caves Conservation Area. Washrooms, parking area and drinking water stations make it easier. If you are visiting just for a day, fishing and picnic tables for lunch could be an option too.
I have to say that I almost skipped the Warsaw Caves visit because of the heavy food poisoning I had at TBEX conference in Toronto just a few days ago. I thought I was not going to make it for a few hours in the nature without my stomach screaming for a washroom. But in the end I overcame myself, my belly behaved well that morning and I could not be happier.
Like I said, after visiting many different caves (we have at least 44 discovered caves in my home country of Slovakia) I never imagined I would really get dirty in the Warsaw Caves simply because the other caves I’ve been to are diametrically different.
But with the Warsaw Caves we developed a very close relationship once we got face to face from a few centimetres. It was love at first sight. At some point I found myself kissing the dirty cave rocks and staring at the silver shining little stones in parts of the caves. I was overwhelmed by the green scenery around the caves, trees covered by moss, sun beams kissing my cheeks through the thick tall vegetation and even by the spider nets shining on the sun.
Limestone rocks of different shapes added a surreal feeling to it. Their imperfectness was what made the area perfect. Perfect for spelunking, perfect for necessary silence, perfect for soul. That’s exactly what the Warsaw Caves will make you remember. Perfect spelunking.
Spelunking Warsaw Caves in Kawarthas was part of my press trip to Peterborough and Kawarthas organized by the tourist board. If you are looking for more things to do in Peterborough/Kawarthas, visit The Kawarthas.