|Location:||Near Wildalpen. B24 between Fachwerk and Fischerau.|
25-APR to 15-OCT daily after appointment.
Adults EUR 15, Children (6-14) EUR 10, Children (0-6) not allowed.
Minimum participants 6 adults or minimum fee EUR 90, maximun 10 participants.
|Dimension:||L=1,021 m, VR=131 m, A=730 m asl.|
|Guided tours:||D=3 h.|
|Address:||Arzberghöhle, Tourismusverband Wildalpen, 8924 Wildalpen 91, Tel: +43-3636-341. E-mail:|
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.
|1955||first excavations have no results.|
|1990||human remains discovered during illegal excavation.|
|2008||new survey and explorations by members of the Landesverein für Höhlenkunde in Wien und Niederösterreich (Speleological Society of Vienna and Lower Austria).|
The Arzberghöhle is located in the Naturschutzgebiet Wildalpener Salzatal (Nature Park Wildalpen Salza Valley). It is a bear cave, which was home for hibernating cave bears for thousands of years. The remains were scientifically examined by Prof. Rabeder from Vienna. The tour offers insights into the daily life of cave bears during the Ice Ages in the Salzatal. Also the cave formation and the speleothems of the cave are explained. This is not a show cave, not even in the rather demanding way of an Alpine cave, which are typical for Austria. This is a semi-wild cave and visitors should have basic caving skills and equippment. Please check with the guide which equipment is provided. However, an overall, helmet, headlamp, sturdy shoes, and gloves are definitely a good idea.
The Arzberghöhle is gated with an iron bar gate, access is possible only during Summer on guided tours with a cerfied cave guide. The cave is closed completely during Winter because of the European law for bat protection. The tours start at the road B24 on an altitude of 580 m asl, from here a steep and narrow trail goes uphill through forest to the cave entrance at 730 m asl. This means at least 45 minutes walk to the cave entrance.
This cave is not difficult, as it has some basic development as a show cave. There are steel ladders or staircases for vertical sections, but no other trails and no light. So this is what is called a semi-wild cave. Surefootedness is necessary, and visitors should not be scared of heights or narrow places. Bring old clothes, sturdy shoes or rubber boots, a warm sweater for the cave. If you have a helmet with headlamp, additional light if possible.
The cave is known for a very long time and there have been surveys and excavations. But after many decades its always a good thing if a new team of cavers redoes such a cave and pushes the limits a bit further. In 2008 in two campaigns members of the Landesverein für Höhlenkunde in Wien und Niederösterreich (Speleological Society of Vienna and Lower Austria) explored some vertical shafts and resurveyed the whole cave. So the formerly known length of 278 m and the vertical range of 65 m were updated to 1,021 m and 131 m respectively. And there are still some unexplored leads left.
In 2010 a strange thing happened. 20 years before, around 1990, a cave visitor found a strange rock in the cave and took it home. From the scientific and cavers' view it was an illegal excavation, and the destruction of protected cave content. He seems to have understood that, if not at the moment he took the rock. So he never told anyone about this rock, fearing legal repercussions. Now after 20 years he collected some bravery and presented his find to Prof. Rabeder from the University of Vienna. This is of great importance as the rock turned out to be a 30,000 years old stone tool made of radiolarite or flint. It is on one side the first human remain from this cave, and on the other side such old human remains are generally rare in this part of Austria.
Illegal excavations in caves are a big problem. Historically treasure hunters went into caves to find gold, fertilizer, ancient treasures. In the mid 20th centuries protection law were made, more or less unnoticed by the general public. During the last decades those laws were tightened, but actually the diggers must not fear prosecution. The only possible measure is the gating of all important caves.