Sunday, 30 November 2014

Harrison's Cave - Part 1

One of the most beautiful places on the island is our beloved Harrison's Cave which is located in the central uplands of the island in Welchman Hall, St. Thomas, one of the parishes on the island with no sea boundary.

It had been quite some time since my last visit and I had been meaning to visit for a while now, and I thought that today was the perfect day to look in on its world renowned beauty, and reacquaint myself with all that it had to offer.
Today is our 48th year of Independence, and every year there are special discounts to encourage nationals to visit the cave.
I know I have told you before how much I love caves and underground terrain, so when I discovered some funds hidden away in an envelope unexpectedly, I knew it was time to treat myself to a day out.
Independence Day also meant that it was a year ago today that I lost my friend Patrick, and I felt it would be good to honour his memory by exploring the beauty of the cave, since he loved the outdoors.

The drive through the country is always so uplifting for me, filled with greenery and different sights and scents.....I may have been a country girl in another life....I do love it so.
Driving along merrily and enjoying the cool country air, I was soon at my destination.

 Harrison's Cave Barbados - a natural underground marvel.
 

The Visitor's Entrance
Adorned with bunting in our national colours for Independence celebrations.
The lobby entrance

A duo was playing some lovely welcome music.


video


Across the lovely walkway to the elevators which take you down to the lower valley level.
There are also scenic trails that may be used to reach the valley floor from the cliff top.
Glass surround elevators give you a panoramic view as you descend.

Almost there.


Cave Interpretation Centre
The Centre was designed to fit in with the natural limestone bedrock.

The interactive displays reveal lots of information to read and enjoy .
There is also an exhibit of Amerindian artifacts that have been excavated from various sites around the island.





Anthony "Tony" Mason along with Danish  speleologist Ole Sorensen "re-discovered" the cave in 1970.

The cave is named after Thomas Harrison, who owned the majority of the land in the 1700s.
He also established Harrison College, one of the top secondary schools on the island.

It is not known exactly when the cave was initially discovered, but back in 1647 it was noted by Richard Lingon that the slaves were using it as a hideaway.
Historical documents in 1795 mention the cave but it was forgotten for almost 200 years.
During the 18th and 19th centuries many attempts to venture into Harrison's Cave were undertaken but they did not get very far since the natural entrances were hard to reach and presented many challenges.
Therefore the cave remained an unexplored mystery until 1970 when Danish engineer and cave explorer (speleologist), Ole Sorensen along with Tony Mason and a team of locals explored the cave and mapped out its main passages and tunnels.
Sorensen realised the potential for the cave and recommended that it be developed.
Thus in 1974 the Barbados Government decided to turn the cave into a tourist attraction, so a team led by Tony Mason dug engineered access tunnels using the old maps. Drawing on scientific, artistic, technological and geological resources, the work involved digging tunnels, improving lighting and diverting some of the underground streams.
After lots of work, this crystallized limestone cave was opened to the public in 1981.


After leaving the Centre we sat in the viewing room for a 10 minute video which highlighted the formation of the island and the cave system, then it was time to board our tram.
There are three different tours...Tram tour, Eco-Adventure Tour, and the Walk in Cave Tour.
I opted for the Tram tour using the solar-powered electric tram accompanied by a guide and a driver.  The tour guides give all the historical and detailed information of the cave along the way as well as many other fascinating facts. Every time I visit the cave I learn something new.


Our tram about to leave for our trip into the bowels of the cave.
The many drops of water from the roof of the cave are as a result of rain water slowly seeping through the porous limestone rock.
The tour starts at the upper level of the cave and as we enter we can look over the precipice into "The Great Hall"......stunningly beautiful.....there were many "oohs" and "aahs."
The Great Hall "Cathedral" is the largest cavern and measures 15 metres/ 50 feet high.


The captivating beauty of the cave formations.
The Village


Breathtakingly beautiful.

Harrison's Cave is a wondrous magical place full of stalactites and stalagmites, streams, waterfalls and reflection lakes. 
The stalactites and stalagmites were formed over thousands of years and in some places the stalactites have reached down to the stalagmites and a spectacular pillar has been formed. 



Harrison’s Cave is a massive stream cave system. In a stream cave, the majority of the passage is dry but there is flowing water throughout the cave. The cave is at least 2.3 kilometres long. The interior temperature is an average 27 degrees Celsius.

 It is an active cave as it carries water.

Stalactites on the top and stalagmites on the bottom.
The stalagmites in Harrison’s Cave are growing by less than the thickness of paper each year, but this is considered fast in geological terms.














On the lower level we were allowed to get off the tram to get a closer first hand look at the formations.
No touching was allowed, after all the formations take many many many years to reach maturity....we can't have them being damaged.
video








The cave's beautiful formations have been created over the course of hundreds of thousands of years.

The cave's natural entrance used by Ole Sorensen and his explorers.
The white blob in the photo is a drop of water from the cave roof on the camera lens.





Flowing streams, deep pools of crystal clear water and towering columns characterize this living cave.
The water is clean and pure since it is filtered through the limestone rock as it seeps downwards.
 It flows into the aquifers and is then pumped back to the surface to provide fresh water for households...we take pride in our pure water.

 
 White Flowstones

Flowstone covered walls glisten in the lights as the calcite laden waters drip from the roof. 

 The Altar
 






A unique phenomenon of nature.

This eco-friendly cave is administered by the National Conservation Commission and continues to be the most favoured tourist attraction on the island.
As always, I enjoyed my journey into the cave, but back outside there was more beauty to behold, too much to include here, so I will write another post to follow this one on the outdoor beauty.
Stay tuned.

4 comments:

  1. It's beautiful. Your camera did well to capture the cave's features. You must have a good flash or they have good lighting. We have a number of limestone caves in Australia and I love visiting them but have always found it hard to get good photos. None of ours have a tram either. You have to walk through them, but not touch, of course.

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    Replies
    1. I myself am pleasantly surprised at how well the little camera did with the photos in the cave.
      It is a Panasonic Lumix which my friend had scheduled for the dump and I rescued it from a certain burial. Little did I know then that it would become my favourite camera.
      What I liked most about it is that I no longer have to buy batteries, it has a rechargeable battery.
      Went online and found the usb cable and charger and since then I have been using it instead of my Olympus camera.
      The flash works well.
      As for the cave lighting, it is triggered by the guide with a hand held remote as the tram approaches the area. As the tram leaves it is triggered to the off position. That way the cave is not in unnatural lighting for long periods of time. The cave is left in darkness when closed for the night except for night time tours.

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    2. I am not a lover of being underground especially in small or very confined cave spaces. I have, despite that, been in quite a few caves in Europe and Australia.Some have been grander in size and more spectacularly adorned with ancient works of art but none that I can recall were as naturally magnificent as these Virginia. What a splendid tour.

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    3. Moving along in the tram may feel a bit confined sometimes, but the cave is pretty big, so I think you would be okay.
      I'm glad that you enjoyed the Harrison's Cave tour.....I have a few more cave tours to post when I get a chance to visit.

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