Piusa Sand Caves

The Sand Caves

Our last visit of the day was to Piusa on the Russian border. Again the setting was a pine forest, with sand underfoot. This time we were heading into the sand, as we plunged underground into a sand cave. Sand has been quarried here for industrial use since 1922, and the result is a strange mine complex that feels rather like an underground cathedral. After a few yards it was completely dark, so we switched on torches, by the light of which we could see dozens of rough arches hewn out of the sand, or, I suppose, the sandstone. At any rate, the structure seemed to be quite stable. The effect was surreal: we're used to arches used as doors or windows, or for decorative effect along galleries etc, but this was a sort of room full of arches, like a lot of doors leading nowhere. It was chilly, although we were only a few yards underground and the day outside was hot. The next cave along is said to be home to 2000 bats, but we didn't see any in ours.

The Quarry

After emerging from the cave, we walked a little further into the woods and came to the present sand quarry, which is open-cast and looks like an enormous bomb-crater. Then we went on to Karula National Park where we were to spend the night.

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