When on Saturday it was clear that Sunday remained the best day to visit the marble caves, we walked over to one of the waterfront kiosks and reserved a spot for a ride. We knew what we wanted and made that clear: 1. for the best light, when the low sun would shine deep into the caves, we wanted the earliest as possible ride, 2. A boat with at the most 10 people, so you wouldn’t have other people (faces) in your photos when looking over the other side, and 3. We wanted to see just the caves… We were assured that would be no problem and we signed up for the earliest at 8AM ride (still, in our opinion, on the late side). Sunday morning at 7:30AM we walked over to report our presence. No-one was there yet, but other kiosks were opening up. At 7:45AM the organizers were there, but no other customers. At 8:00AM, while at some other kiosks customers were all ready in life vests walking to the boat landing, a volume of customers showed up – way too many for a 10 people boat. Only then were we told we’d have to wait until there would be enough people to fill a smaller boat for the “caves only” ride – maybe by 10:00AM… Annoyed, we cancelled our ride with this company and I ran over to another one that seemed to be ready to depart, and yes, they could add us on their ten person boat, but it would be the full tour (whatever that meant, we’d find out) We signed up and left right away. So, the full tour meant that first we went to the other side of the lake to admire a boat wreck, followed by a stop in a village that used to have a marble mine (not interested in either one- been there, done that similar stuff before) So I sat and waited along the beach, which I must admit, was peaceful and pretty.
At around 9:30AM, when the sun was already high in the sky, we reached the caves. The first ones turned out to be around the corner from the village, and had multiple entries to reach by boat. The marble was grey with white stripes and yellowish growth coming out of cracks. The boat and its people both shaded the caves as well as bounced off its colors on the marble surfaces. There were many caves we floated into, enough for many other boats to join in the fun without being in each other’s way. Only at the very end we reached the marble cathedral and marble chapel (which resembled a big rock on marble stilts) Here, one had to accept a large gathering of boats and canoes crowding the site and I wondered if maybe only these last two places would make up to be the “caves only” destination we initially had in mind.
Once we reached the caves, it was selfie time! There and then it dawned on me why the magic light of the morning didn’t seem important to the majority of the visitors: most were not even admiring the caves, but only themselves through their phone cameras. Selfie sticks poked out from every side for faces grimaced in posed smiles, and fingers held up with peace signs. The tour leader volunteered to shoot pictures of groups that crowded out the views we came to see. I was glad to be in the front row seat, with Thijs a way back on the other side. The other front row seat was occupied by a young guy who must have made at least a hundred pictures of his same overly happy face, only looking over his shoulder to make sure he would not get hit by a protruding marble point.
Despite the crazy tour experience we didn’t regret waiting for that one sunny day or taking the tour…unless you have your own boat, there is no other way to see this natural phenomena. We enjoyed the beauty of the lake and got to see and touch the natural marble sculptures from up close. It is a unique sight to see. After the tour, I spoke to the woman who registered us. She informed us that we could have taken a sunrise canoe tour, or hire a whole boat for a private tour, which would cost a small fortune…a little late, and yes, we can only blame ourselves for not shopping around.