St-Léonard, the biggest navigable underground lake

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Europe’s biggest navigable underground lake is hidden between Sion and Sierre cities ( the Valais canton in Switzerland) and is just one kilometer away from the train station with the same name. The lake is accessible to small and medium boats. There is even a tour specially organized for curious tourists, on big pleasure boats.

The tour guides on the lake tell visitors about the cave’s history and genesis. So if you go for the organized tour, which costs approximately 40 lei per person, the guides will explain where the cave’s walls got the pastel grace-notes and the unusual presence of the trout that swim freely around the boats.

The lake was created due to tectonic movements and was explored by speleologists in 1943. Six years later it was opened to international public tourism. Ever since, around 80.000 visitors go there each year in organized groups, from March till November, when the lake is open for the public. Also, the cave can be rented for special occasions (weddings, baptisms, birthdays) right at the Saint- Léonard city hall.

Many different types of rocks, 10 meters high, are vividly sparkling in the Saint- Léonard lake, where their irregular shapes reflect in a mirror like water above the approximately 6000 square meters of navigable surface of the lake.

To the fishing lovers we tell that here, they find schools of fish swimming in the crystal water, which is 10 - 13 meters deep - offering a unique view of the lake‘s rocky bottom. Unfortunately, fishing is prohibited here so we recommend only to admire the amazing aquatic fauna and to make fishing plans to a sports lake in Romania.

Among the creatures that live in this subterranean world, you will see mushroom mosquitoes that lay their eggs across the cave’s walls, upside down, creating an unforgettable image.

As you sail towards the back part of the cave, you will have the opportunity to discover an unexpected interior beach – rather small, but where the statue of Saint Notre – Dame des Gouffres, in the name of whom the lake was dedicated over 50 years ago.

Here you have the chance to dive, in the heart of the world of calm, mystic and nature’s charm. If you ever happen to go to Switzerland, you must take the regional train (just to see the amazing landscapes) from Berna directly to the Saint- Léonard village. Even though it’s a long journey, it’s worth every second spent in the train.

Author: Gabriel Ban

Translator: Claudia Naiba

Photo source:

Published in: noiembrie 2012
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