Cave of the 99 Holy Fathers

Mouth of the Cave of the 99 Holy FathersThe 99 Holy FathersWe found ourselves in need of an adventure yesterday, however the weather forecast involved random rain showers throughout the day.  In a landscape that is dominated by loose rock and dirt, hiking down a gorge wasn’t the smartest of options.  Browsing online, my friend stumbled upon some various caves on a geocaching website.  One in particular caught our attention and didn’t have warnings about running water: the Cave of the 99 Holy Fathers.  The cave was located on the south side of the island, in the little village of Azogires.  You can check out the geocache page for the cave here, for the lat/long, as well as a little hand drawn map of the village with directions on reaching the cave, and a diagram of the cave layout.

Stairs down into the Cave of the 99 Holy FathersAn old wooden ladder...Getting to the town, you’ll likely come down the main road to Paleochora, taking a left up into the mountains before reaching the South coast.  When you first enter the village, there is a little cement road on the left going up the hill, with a sign for the cave on an old olive tree directly across the road from it.  It is a narrow little road, that might appear sketchy, but you can drive up it just fine.  At a fork in the road, with a shipping container acting as a sign for the cave, you’ll go left, but this is where the road turns to dirt.  The winter rains have done some damage to the road, lots of ruts and sizable exposed rocks, making the going slow.  My little rental made it up just fine, though, just be wary of large rocks!  If you can drive, I would, there is still a considerable amount of road left to the cave…

Squeezing!Once you arrive at the parking area, it is a short walk up the mountainside to the cave.  When we got to the cave mouth we were pleasantly surprised to find a sign stating that the cave was lit with solar power from 0800-1800.  Once down in the cave we were even more thankful for the surprise lighting, which was just a simple string of lights down one side of the cavern.  It was enough light to see to get around, but still kept the cavern quite dark and exciting.

Water...From One Chamber to AnotherIn the first large cavern is a little shrine for the 99 Holy Fathers.  The cave then splits, one path going up an old, wooden ladder, the other going down a metal ladder.  The latter follows a spray painted Greek word on cave walls: “NEPO.”  This is pronounced “nero,” meaning water.  This fork goes down into a narrow little area that you need to squeeze through.  If you glance down while squeezing, you’ll spot that water down among some of the rocks, there really isn’t that much of it.  You don’t have to squeeze for long, you’ll quickly find yourself climbing up into a tiny room (chamber is too large a word for this area) that is a dead end.

Leaving the Cave of the 99 Holy FathersStanding Tall in the Cave of the 99 Holy FathersIf you take that left fork with the wooden ladder, you will find yourself in a second large cavern, with another little shrine for the 99 Holy Fathers.  Sadly, this is the end of the cave system, but it is well worth the visit.  The cave floor is littered with large stalactites that have fallen.  It is odd to see these running horizontally rather than vertically.  All in all, a super exciting find, we all had a blast exploring this cave and finding the geocache.  The cache, by the way, contained a trackable coin.  I removed this, and am going to relocate it somewhere in the UK, since I will be returning home within a month or so.  Now where to put it…


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