Tunel Ponikve

Pećina Ponikva - Ponikva Cave

Useful Information

Attention! Bats!
Location: On the road R444 between Vareš and Krivaja valley.
(44.179669, 18.337533)
Open: no restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave TopicCaves Used as Road Tunnels
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: yes
Address: Tunel Ponikve, R444, Krivaja valley.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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The Tunel Ponikve is a road tunnel which uses the pećina Ponikva (Ponikva Cave). It is pretty rare that a natural cave is big enough and at a location where a road is needed, so there are only about half a dozen such natural road tunnels worldwide. This tunnel has a paved two lane road, a sidewalk on one side, and electric light. It is also used by heavy trucks, which are almost as big as the cave, which is a result of nearby sawmill. The trucks transport lumber, the cave was artificially widened in several places to allow those trucks.

Despite the road and the heavy traffic the cave is quite popular with bats. Cavers from Sarajevo were exploring the cave for bats remains and found the bones of Eptesicus serotinus Schreber, 1774, Myotis myotis Borkhausen, 1797, and Myotis blythii Tomes, 1857. In 2007 a dead bat of Rhinolophus sp. was found. Unfortunately the huge trucks kill bats, because they cross the tunnel quite fast and bats flying in the tunnel have no chance to fly around, as they fill most of the cave. As a result the cavers have installed a quite unique road sign which says "attention bats"! It's the triangular danger sign with white center and red rim, but with a bat instead of an exclamation mark.

The cave is also a river cave, opposite the boardwalk is a channel for the Ponikva river, which sinks inside the cave. The river enters the cave in the main passagen the cave splits into two smaller branches, the river uses the lower branch and the road the upper branch. Later they meet and the river emerges and flows again along the road. As this lower branch is completely water filled there has been no exploration so far.