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What is Karst?

Most people know what caves are, but the term “karst” leaves many confused.  “Karst” describes a landscape shaped from the dissolving (dissolution) of rocks by water rather than from physical erosion by streams or rivers.  Much of the dissolution may take place out of sight beneath the surface of the land.  There are a number of unique physical features that result, most obviously caves, sinkholes, and lack of surface streams.  Referring to a “karst landscape” is roughly analogous to referring to an “ocean shoreline landscape”.  Both terms refer to a specific landscape characterized by its own unique set of features.

You don't need to know what "karst" is to enjoy some of the fantastic and incredibly beautiful settings found in the karst that we visit.  Caves are the best known, most interesting and spectacular elements, but the above ground scenery is breathtaking, amazing, and can be almost surreal.


Arguably, the two most spectacular and best-studied karst regions on Earth are in China and the Balkans.  On Focused Tours, we not only appreciate the landscape and the caves beneath, we also have the opportunity to understand how this land came to be and the unique problems the local population has had to overcome to succeed in living on karst.

If you would like a journey through the diversity and beauty of cave features, look at The Virtual Cave by award-winning photographer Dave Bunnell.  

The Virtual Cave

Return to SE Asia (Vietnam and Laos)

Return to SW China Karst

Return to Slovenia-Croatia


FocusedTours@comcast.net   •   P.O. Box 440102, Aurora, Colorado 80044-0102 USA   •   Tel: 303-632-9255