Spelunking in Wallonia

Trip Start Aug 15, 2010
Trip End Dec 11, 2010

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Flag of Belgium  , Wallonia,
Saturday, September 4, 2010

The first excursion as a part of the ISA group was to southern Belgium. We awoke at the crack of dawn (having had far too little sleep) and made our way to the tour bus waiting to drive us to Han-Sur-Lesse. It was a sleepy hour and a half ride, but upon arriving the 17 isa students were able to put the drowsiness behind them to enjoy a hike into one of the largest caves in Europe. 

The town itself is very small and quaint, with stone buildings and cobblestone streets that look like they could have been built any time in the last 300 years. The tourism for the cave seems to be a solid industry and there is a nice mix of pristine farm land around the town and some great restaurants and shops at the center. 

To start our voyage into the cave, we got on an ancient tram and had a pleasant (if slow and noisy) ride to the entrance. There we were divided into different language groups with different tour guides (ours being very large because it was both french and english) and began our decent. The temperature outside was around 65 and sunny but in the cave it dropped to the 50's and was unsurprisingly chilly. The caves themselves were spectacular with a winding passage that took us through multiple levels and various rock formations. One thing about this cave that was particularly impressive was the huge river that flows through deep underground. Another highlight was a (slightly overdramatic) light show in one of the largest caverns. They had benches for everyone to sit on and there was music and an enjoyable light display on the walls. We followed the underground river to the exit and upon reaching the final tunnel, with daylight in sight, there was a "cannon shot" fired so that we could hear the echo in the tunnel. It was neat but it was also incredibly loud and it surprised nearly everyone on the tour!

Upon leaving the cave we returned to the town to relax and find some lunch before continuing our days journey to Dinant.   
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