Caving in Tarn Gorges - France

Caving Initiation

Initiation speleology

To make an introduction to Speleology, we will rendezvous in the gorges of Tarn in Lozere. Several venues are possible depending on the sites of practice: Castelbouc, Saint Chely Tarn, Sainte-Enimie for the cave of La Clujade.

 

The cave of Castelbouc:
From Florac, take direction Ispagnac, Blajoux, once past the latter village continue for 1.5 km and turn left following the sign Castelbouc sign. Continue by car, cross the river Tarn on a submersible bridge, continue for 500m and you will arrive at the village of Castelbouc.

 

The business to take:
– hiking shoes or basketball
– long-sleeved clothing, it is 12 degrees in the cave, no down jacket either

 

Course and duration of the activity:
Your instructor will wait for you at the car park where he will have prepared all the necessary equipment for the progression: Speleology combination, kneepads, helmets with powerful lighting.
At first, we dress on a tarpaulin at your disposal.

We cross on foot this charming little village of Castelbouc with the ruins of a castle overlooking the village. Dating back to the 12th century, this castle belonged to Etienne de Castelbouc, vassal of Elie de Montbrun. The latter is commander of the Knights Templar Larzac.
In the 16th century, during the war of religion, the state of Gévaudan ordered its destruction to prevent Protestants from using it as a refuge. Its destruction is dated 1592.

After five minutes of walking in the village and in blocks we arrive at the entrance of the cave. A briefing describing the environment in which we will evolve will be done before returning, it is a slippery and sensitive environment. The important thing is to leave no trace of human passage, we can watch the formations but in no way touch them or degrade them. The explanations necessary for the proper use of the helmet and the light will be given to you.

 

Speleology in Castelbouc:

We go through a small passage that will take us into the entrance hall of the cavity. After a little de-escalation, we arrive in the room of the Sub-prefect, a little larger size, we manage to stand inside. At that moment, no more connection with the outside world, no more phones, GPS and other technological devices. Here, only caring and team spirit will be useful.

We continue our exploration to the shell room where we can observe fossilized sea urchins, brachiopods and two ammonites. These shells are real vestiges of the sedimentary period called the Jurassic.
All the caves are different and each one gives us its secrets, just be curious and know how to observe. We continue our exploration in volumes more or less narrow or we will have to crawl, the cave will be a little more sporty from there. Small rooms, however, will allow us to regroup and share these moments together.
Once these small passages are overcome, we will arrive in a large room of impressive size, located on a geological fracture, we will be able to observe the work of the earth through these last million years. From this moment the atmosphere changes radically, we can move up and walk on the blocks of the room.
This outing is a first geological approach, it will also allow us to familiarize ourselves with the caving environment, we will be able to observe fistuleuses which are small hollow and really thin stalactites resembling a tube. Stains are visible testimony of the passage of water and some oxides such as iron, manganese.
A little experience in the dark is usually proposed to feel or rather hear more closely the secrets of the cave.

On the return, cavers will find their way in this labyrinth, some feel the soul of explorer, will try difficult passages or almost impossible but this is a game and is not mandatory. After about 3 hours of activity, we are again at the exit of the cave. Small moments of exchange and collection of sensations after this first experience will be welcome. The return to the cars will be with the helmets on the head, because of the fatigue of each and the risk of slipping.
Once returned to civilization, we unfold our tarpaulin to store the material that will be washed.

 

The recommendations to make the cave of Castelbouc:

-Want to do the activity: crawling, discovering, observing, looking for passages, living the adventure.
– Be in good health, report any problem you may have: back problem, asthma, sight … we will do everything possible to ensure your safety.

 

 

 

 

The cave of the Duganelle in Saint Chély du Tarn:

From Florac, take direction Ispagnac, Sainte-Enimie, once past this medieval village continue for 8 kilometers and turn left following the sign Saint Chély du Tarn. Continue by car, cross the river Tarn on a beautiful bridge, park just after one of the parking at your disposal.

 

The business to take:
– hiking shoes or basketball
– long-sleeved clothing, it is 12 degrees in the cave, no down jacket either

 

Course and duration of the activity:
Your instructor will wait for you at the car park where he will have prepared all the necessary equipment for the progression: Speleology combination, kneepads, helmets with powerful lighting.
At first, we dress on a tarpaulin at your disposal.

We cross the streets of this charming village of Gorges du Tarn, typical habitat, resurgence passing under houses and tranquility. After 10 minutes of walking, we find ourselves in the entrance porch which is really impressive. A briefing describing the environment in which we will evolve will be done before returning, it is a slippery and sensitive environment. The important thing is to leave no trace of human passage, we can watch the formations but in no way touch them or degrade them. The explanations necessary for the proper use of the helmet and the light will be given to you.

 

Speleology in Saint Chély du Tarn:

On entering a porch so majestic, we expect necessarily a whim of nature. The underground network of Saint Chély du Tarn also called the Duganelle did not give us all its secrets. The progression of the beginning is easy, we are standing and even have the impression to be in hike, it will however be of short duration. Suddenly, on the left opens to us a skylight in height which we will have to cross thanks to a small climbing, we arrive then in a true tube formed by a passage of water. Shortly after, the first labyrinth will take us to a really nice room, a room where there is a lot of sand on the ground and where we will be able to observe the traces of water passage in winter.

After having progressed in the first part of the cave we will have fun in the second labyrinth where small and big will have fun to meet, we will be able to observe in passing a magnificent pillar of erosion.
To access the upper floor of the cave, two options will be presented to us, either a very narrow passage or a climbing on bars that will allow us to discover different fossils but also exceptional formations: giant pots, siphon, cupules d ‘erosion.

On the return, cavers will find their way in this labyrinth, a small reminder of 15m will allow us to join the sand room, the lower galleries and the large entrance porch. After about 3 hours of activity, we are again at the exit of the cave. We will share this first experience with all participants. The return to the cars will be with the helmets on the head, because of the fatigue of each and the risk of slipping.
The return path gives us a privileged view of the Gorges du Tarn, arrived at the village of Saint Chely de Tarn, we unfold our tarpaulin to store the speleological material that will be washed.

 

The recommendations for the cave of Saint Chély du Tarn:
-Want to do the activity: crawling, discovering, observing, looking for passages, living the adventure.
– Be in good health, report any problem you may have: back problem, asthma, sight … we will do everything possible to ensure your safety.

 

The cave of Clujade in Hauterives:

From Florac, take the direction of Gorges du Tarn, once past the medieval village of Sainte-Enimie continue towards Millau. Pass the hamlet of Pougnadoires and continue for a few kilometers to the hamlet of Hauterives which is located on the other side of the river Tarn. Parking the best in the parking, your monitor will tell you the best place to park.

 

The business to take:
– hiking shoes or basketball
– long-sleeved clothing, it is 12 degrees in the cave, no down jacket either
– spare clothes and shoes, this is an aquatic cavity and we risk getting wet to the waist

 

Course and duration of the activity:
The parking being located on the edge of the road we will dress on a tarpaulin as soon as possible or we will put: Speleology jumpsuit, knee pads, helmets with high performance lighting.

It is while crossing this same road of the Gorge of Tarn that we will find under a parapet the entrance of the cave of the Clujade. A briefing describing the environment in which we will evolve will be done before returning, it is a slippery and sensitive environment. The important thing is to leave no trace of human passage, we can watch the formations but in no way touch them or degrade them. The explanations necessary for the proper use of the helmet and the light will be given to you.

 

Speleology in La Clujade:

It will be necessary to lie down to enter the first small room of the Clujade, after a few meters of rapine and de-escalation between blocks we arrive at the first siphon we will try to pass without too much wet. In winter, this space is completely immersed, it is about a tube of one meter fifty of height that we will have to traverse curved. Once past this place we arrive in a much larger place or we can observe formations hanging on the walls sign of a frequent and prolonged immersion. The path continues uphill to a passage in height or a rope will help us to cross the passage.

The colorations hanging on the walls are really remarkable here. After this short warm-up, we are in the gallery of pots or the most playful aspect of the cavity arrives: it is a progression in opposition between two walls which is realized above the water. At this moment, we imagine this cave with its river in winter and its impressive water movements. Many erosion cups are present, more or less large depending on the speed of the water that has eroded the limestone. We will pass in the Tendelle gallery, the big pots before going down again to access the Metro gallery.

This gallery is really unique in the region, of a tube shape, it has great traces of clays on the sides that are the result of a rising water of the second siphon that we will find a little further. Depending on the water level in this siphon, we can simply observe it or cross it and reach the great room of the Clujade which is really spectacular.

In return, vigilance is required since we have wet feet, we can slip quickly, no way to run. Even if the route of the cave of the Clujade is a round trip, there are areas of doubt for the caving apprentice, it is in these moments that the notion of group will be important. Leaving the cave, we find ourselves next to the road gorges, the temperature change is suffocating, we hurry to change, tidy equipment, we will be quieter to exchange later.

 

The recommendations for making the cave of La Clujade:

-Want to do the activity: crawl, discover, observe, get wet, look for passages, live the adventure.
– Be in good health, report any problem you may have: back problem, asthma, sight … we will do everything possible to ensure your safety.

You are interested

  • Initiation : 1/2 day
  • Groups : from 3 to 8 people
  • Individual : 35 €/pers
  • Groups (+4 pers) : 33 €/pers
  • Groups (+6 pers) : 31 €/pers

Useful Information

Bring shoes like trainers or hiking shoes, clothes that can get dirty, picnic and drinking water for a day out.

Equipment provided :

• Caving suits
• Helmets with flashlights
• Caving bags and containers when necessary

Insurance :

In order to perform all activities, we strongly recommend you to be covered by a Civil Liability insurance. On our side, we also subscribe a Professional Liability insurance.