European Cave Rescue Meeting 2023 – First Circular


The 16th European Cave Rescue Meeting is going to take place in Mira de Aire, Municipality of Porto de Mós, Maciço Calcário Estremenho, Portugal from October 12th till 15th 2023.

Pre-Meeting from October 11th till 12th 2023.


This meeting is organized by the Portuguese Federation of Speleology (FPE) on behalf of the European Cave Rescue Association (ECRA).
This meeting will take place under the auspices of the Municipality of Porto de Mós (CMPM).

During the Pre-Meeting you can enjoy caving and cave diving; we are preparing several interesting locations. More information will be available soon. Please also visit our website for last minute changes or send us an email on in case of any question.

Please note the date for ECRA meeting in your diary!

We look forward to meeting you in the Portuguese Karst.
The Organizing Committee

Time Schedule


Technical workshop

The program is being worked on.

Giuseppe CONTI, Chairperson of the Technical Commission

Medical workshop

The program is being worked on.

Denes Akos NAGY, Interim Chairperson of the Medical Commission

Katrin HABEGGER, Vice Chairperson of the Medical Commission

Cave diving exercise

The program is being worked on.

Robert ANZIC, Chairperson of the Cave-diving Commission

Passage enlargement workshop

The program is being worked on.

Werner ZAGLER, Chairperson of the Passage Enlargement Commission

General Assembly

The program is not available yet.


Mira de Aire (Porto de Mós), Maciço Calcário Estremenho, Portugal
Google Maps

The Municipality of Porto de Mós, endowed with enormous tourist potential, is home to diversified natural beauty, in the heart of the Serras de Aire e Candeeiros Natural Park (PNSAC).

From the historical heritage (highlighting its castle) to the Campo Militar de S. Jorge and the Calçada Romana do Alqueidão da Serra, among other points of interest, together with the good local gastronomy, make Porto de Mós a worthwhile destination for a visit.

Mira de Aire is a village crossed by the Serras de Aire and Candeeiros Natural Park, where the most spectacular and best preserved natural cave in Portugal is the Mira de Aire Cave, also known as Moinhos Velhos Cave (Old Windmills Cave).

It is also known to its inhabitants as extremely rich in natural heritage. In addition to being inserted in the PNSAC and being the “home” of the Caves of Mira de Aire, the polje of Mira-Minde has several water springs that “burst” in winter.

Figure 6 – Polje of Mira-Minde, in winter

The Mira de Aire Cave along with the Caves of Pena and Contenda are part of a great system of galleries over 11 km long. During rainy winters the water of this system join the water of the Olho de Mira and Regatinho springs, flooding the great closed depression (Polje of Mira-Minde) existing between the villages of Mira de Aire and Minde. Caves are also a major magnet for tourism. The Mira de Aire Cave, Alvados Cave and Santo António Cave are open to the public with an annual attendance of approximately 400,000 people.

Meeting Location: House of Culture, Mira de Aire

Casa da Cultura is one of the most emblematic buildings of the village, built in 2010 with modern features and which houses an extension of the municipal library, an exhibition gallery, and a concert hall.

The auditorium can accommodate up to 200 people. It also has several technical rooms that can be used for committee meetings; it has space for a bar and an exhibition hall.

Exercise area: Olho da Pena Escarpment and surroundings

This site is situated at the NE boundary of the Polje of Mira-Minde, which is the largest in the region being 4000m long and 1800m wide. It is a depression with a flat bottom full of temporary springs caused by several streams that are lost in the ground, being considered a unique natural monument, characteristic of the limestone regions, to separate the Serra de Santo António mountain from Serra de Aire mountain. In winter, the polje fills with water giving rise to a large lake in which forest species and animals develop. In some areas the water reaches a depth of eight meters. The polje of Mira-Minde is drained on the outskirts of the massif by the springs of the rivers Lena, Alviela and Almonda, just to name the most well-known.

This place was modeled by the spring of the subterranean river, that created the Moinhos Velhos Cave (Old Windmills Cave), called Olho da Pena (vertical and horizontal spring that is dry in Summer).

This escarpment is often used for vertical progression training and rescue maneuvers by cavers.

Geology and geomorphology

Except for small border areas, the entire PNSAC area is included in the Mesozoic Limestone Massif, and the main geological constituents belong, almost entirely, to the Jurassic with predominance of limestones belonging to the Dogger (Middle Jurassic).

From the morphological point of view, three subunits can be differentiated in the Maciço Calcário Estremenho (Estremenho Limestone Massif) that correspond to elevated compartments – the Serra de Candeeiros (Candeeiros mountain range) to the west, the Planalto de Santo António (Saint António plateau) to the center and to the south and the Planalto de São Mamede (São Mamede plateau) and the Serra de Aire (Serra de Aire mountain range), respectively to the north and east. Separating these subunits are three depressions caused by major fractures, respectively the depression of Mendiga, the Mira-Minde polje and the depression of Alvados.

For all these reasons, this is a place where the most significant and typical karst phenomena are represented in Portugal, such as the dolinas, the grape, the poljes and fields of lapiás, with regard to the surface model, and the existence of numerous caves (more than 1500) that cross the interior of the massif.

The depression of Alvados is a basin of flat, wide background, with an immense carpet of olive trees that timidly rehearse an ascent through the extensive and uniform Costa dos Alvados, as is called the shed of 300 m of slope that reaches the plateau of Santo António. This is one of the most beautiful landscapes of this massif. It is a dry land area where the olive grove predominates, but which has important oak cores.


Despite the absence of surface watercourses organized in this region, they exist in abundance underground, constituting one of the largest – if not the largest – underground freshwater reservoir in our country and extending between Rio Maior and Leiria.

Of the various karst springs in the region, the most well-known and important about emitted flow rates, is that of the Olhos de Água do Alviela (Water Eyes of Alviela). The source of the Alviela River is in the transition between the Estremenho Limestone Massif, an area where limestone rock predominates; and the Lower Tagus Tertiary Basin, a landscape composed mainly of sandstone. Its feeding basin extends over about 180 km2, where the water runs through true underground labyrinths until it reaches the source.

Figure 17 – Olhos de Água do Alviela Spring, in Winter
Figure 17 – Olhos de Água do Alviela Spring, in Winter

The spring of Olhos de Água do Alviela is one of the most important in our country, reaching 17,000 liters per second, that is, 1,5 million m3 of water per day (peak flood). From 1880 until very close to the present day, the source of Alviela was one of the main sources of water supply to the city of Lisbon (through EPAL), and today it still “opens doors” to one of the largest freshwater reservoirs in the country.

South of the Serra de Aire (altitude of 679m) is also the Cave of the Almonda Spring. Its source came to debit 4.5 million m3, in the flood of March 10, 1979.

It develops over more than 15 km, constituting an authentic sanctuary of portuguese caving  because, as a whole, it is the most extensive karst network currently known in Portugal.  It consists of several underground streams that give rise to the source of the Almonda River.

Regarding cultural heritage, there are several archaeological deposits, ranging from the Lower Paleolithic to the Roman era.


The climate in this area is characterized by constituting a peculiar transition between Mediterranean and Atlantic conditions, being therefore humid, of medium temperatures and with great water deficiency in summer.


The participation fee is EUR 60, payable upon the participant’s check-in.
The participation fee includes accommodation, breakfast, lunch, and dinner during the ECRA meeting.
Drinks are at your own expense.


Not yet available.


The official language of the European Cave Rescue Meeting and Pre-Meeting is English.
Simultaneous translation into other languages will not be available.


All presentations and documents should be written in English.
The email for sending your presentations is
For the smooth running of the meeting, we kindly ask that you send us your presentations no later than one week before the start of the meeting.


Usually, no special equipment is needed for the exercise during the meeting. If necessary, it will be announced in advance. Required equipment for excursions will be specified in Pre-Meeting section.


No visa is required from citizens of the European countries.
Please consult the Portuguese Embassy in your country if in doubt.


If needed, the participants can request a Letter of Invitation by e-mail to


No specific warnings for the Portuguese Republic. Public safety in Portugal is very high.




All variations are possible for arrival – own car, bus, train, plane.

Lisbon Airport (LIS):
International airport about 110 km away from Mira de Aire centre.

Oporto Airport (OPO):
International airport about 220 km away from Mira de Aire centre.

By Bus:
There are regular bus lines from Lisbon and Oporto to the city of Fátima:


By Train:
There are regular train lines from Lisbon and Oporto to Fátima station, the nearest of Mira de Mire (32km and 40mn long).
CP – Comboios de Portugal

Figure 20 – Location of the venue’s village and the nearest airports
Figure 20 – Location of the venue’s village and the nearest airports


We will provide transfer to the meeting location from:

  • Fátima train station
  • Fátima bus station

Contact the helpdesk for pickup.


Provided by the organizers: (included in the participation fee).
Accommodation in a sports pavilion – please bring your own sleeping bag and pads.
Area for own tents is also available – please take your own campsite equipment.
We will also provide a “caravan park”, near the pavilion.

Alternatives: (not included in the participation fee)

Youth hostel: Pousada de Alvados       



Caves Houses (bungalows): Grutas de Mira de Aire

Accommodation capacity is limited


Participants will eat in the restaurant directly in the building where the meeting will take place or at the sports pavilion.
Also “Speleo Bar” will be available during afternoon and evening.


Local Organizing Committee
Phone: +351 961 697 685

Manuel SOARES, Head of the Local Organizing Committee
President of Directorate, FPE, Portugal
Phone: +351 961 697 685

Sérgio BARBOSA, Member of the Local Organizing Committee
Head of Cave Rescue Working Group, FPE, Portugal

Vítor GANDRA, Member of the Local Organizing Committee
Vice-president of Directorate, FPE, Portugal

Dinko NOVOSEL, President of ECRA
Hrvatska Gorska Služba Spašavanja / HGSS, Croatia
Phone: +385 91 517 94 31

Werner ZAGLER, Vice President of ECRA
Höhlenrettungsverbund Deutschland / HRVD, Germany
Phone: +49 151 750 41 557, +49 89 856 1328 (landline)

Kurt DENNSTEDT, General Secretary of ECRA
Österreichische Höhlenrettung / ÖHR, Austria
Phone: +43 680 230 00 25

Giuseppe CONTI, Chairperson of the Technical Commission
Corpo Nazionale Soccorso Alpino e Speleologico / CNSAS, Italy

Denes Akos NAGY, Interim Chairperson of the Medical Commission
Hungarian Cave Rescue Service / HCRS, Hungary

Katrin HABEGGER, Vice Chairperson of the Medical Commission
Speleo Scours Swiss / SSS, Switzerland

Robert ANZIC, Chairperson of the Cave-diving Commission
Jamarska Reševalna Služba Slovenije / JRS, Slovenia

Werner ZAGLER, Chairperson of the Passage Enlargement Commission
Höhlenrettungsverbund / HRVD, Germany

Antoniya VLAYKOVA, Responsible for ECRA web visibility
Cave Rescue Bulgaria / CRB, Bulgaria


Municipality of Porto de Mós

Mira de Aire Caves

Vertline – Technical Rescue

Parish of Mira de Aire


Municipality of Porto de Mós
Grutas de Mira de Aire
Fernando Pires
Manuel Soares
Vitor Gandra
Pousadas de Juventude
Google Maps