Unlike many other caves in Serbia, where local myths suggest that their famous inhabitants were mythical creatures, the most well-known tenant of the Samar Cave near Svrljig, was a real human. When you hear a word cave, probably the last thing that comes to mind is “home,” but that was not the case for Milutin Veljkovic, at least during 464 days that he spent living in the Samar Cave, starting in 1969.
Samar cave © Credits to Terra Incognita
A short-breathed world sensation, and now a forgotten jewel, as well as the world record for continuously living underground for the longest recorded time got Milutin and the Samar Cave a special place in the Guinness Book of World Records.
The Samar Cave is located in southeastern Serbia, 17 km from the town of Svrljig. The total length of all canals is 3197 m, but it is a true adventure to pass through its swirling tunnels full of whirlpools and cascades. The cave may not be rich in the cave jewelry, but it still cloaks numerous stunning rock formations, like several narrow passages, popularly called “the gates”, in the main tunnel.
The entrance to the Samar cave © Credits to Terra Incognita
The complex of the cave also consists of a 15-meter-high and impressive 25-meter-wide prerast, a last evolutionary stage of the cave, where one part of the rocks “falls off” leaving the imposing stone arch above the massive hole, much like the three famous gates of Vratna, more to the north. The prerast powerfully marks the exit of the cave, completing the Samar trail speleological adventure.
In case you are wondering, yes, he was. He was a speleologist and adventurist by nature, a true nature lover, and a dedicated explorer. Milutin had spent over a year and a half in solitude, keeping the contact with the outside world with the radio. He also had the basic survival equipment like the medicines, canned food, a stove, gas, and some necessary instruments to measure temperature and humidity. For the overwhelming 464 days that he spent underground, he wrote a book, from a diary that he had kept, called “Under the stone sky.”
View from the Samar cave © Credits to Terra Incognita
It didn’t take long for the local people to start referring to the Samar Cave as “Milutin’s Cave.” Now both names are widely accepted and equally used. While the sensation of breaking the Guinness World Record slowly faded away over time, the locals still proudly remember the five minutes of fame that their area got.
Prerast at the end of the Samar cave © Credits to Terra Incognita
The area where the cave is located breathes out with wilderness, stunning vistas and picturesque streams, even a waterfall. Easily reachable from the town of Svrljig, within only 17 km, it’s a good idea to explore the surrounding area, like the cliffs near Svrljig that serve as a historical encyclopedia of sorts, or natural pools of Nisevac Gorge, a true masterpiece of nature. While the legacy of the Samar Cave tells a frightening and inspiring story of Milutin’s dedication, this forgotten jewel, that unjustly fades away, is totally worthy of its Guinness Record mention.
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