When senior tech officer Pierre Farrugia took up walking to shed some kilos last August, little did he know it would fuel a burning passion to explore Malta’s natural gems and historic spots.
“It all started 38kg ago in August,” Farrugia laughed.
“I was very fat and started walking to lose weight with a friend. I soon fell in love with it, and it quickly turned into a desire to trek and explore underground tunnels and caves.”
Farrugia, who also has a passion for photography, decided to start a Youtube channel, taking viewers on kayak, abseiling and trekking adventures in summer and underground land explorations in winter.
Since the start of the channel, Farrugia and two of his friends, Angelo Caruana and Vince Pukka, have visited some of Malta’s most intriguing spots, including Harq Hamiem Cave in St. Julians, the tunnels under the Royal Navy Hospital, ancient catacombs in Salini, and the picturesque cliffs of Għar Lapsi.
“Besides the exploration of historic places, the aim of my videos is to show the beauty of Malta to the Maltese and beyond,” Farrugia added. “We want to show people places they aren’t able to access themselves.”
Their latest challenge was a fascinating exploration of a large, underground cave in Birżebbuġia, known as the Għar Il-Friefet or “the bat cave”.
Għar Il-Friefet is a natural landform, comprised of underground chambers connected by tunnels, home to a large number of bats and other rare species. It’s located on the bank of a dry valley near the well-known, prehistoric cave called Għar Dalam.
Located in the middle of a residential hub, Għar Il-Friefet has been threatened by proposals for development for the past three decades, including a recent application to excavate a near-by area for parking facilities.
“I read about it but I couldn’t see any videos of it anywhere. All there was online was two surveys from 2003 and 2007,” Farrugia said.
The tech officer approached his two friends to work on this exploration, with little more than a map to show them the way through.
The result was a first-ever recorded glimpse into the transfixing two-level cave, captured in a half-hour vlog by Farrugia and his fellow explorers.
And while the trio didn’t encounter any bats, they left no rock unturned, even finding some little treasures: old bottles, a small pink plastic comb, a single flipflop and a pair of glasses.
“My dream is to find the owner of these glasses,” he added.
When asked about upcoming explorations for the new year, Farrugia says we’ll just have to wait and see.
“As a team, we have a whole list of places we’ll explore in 2021, but we’re keeping it a secret,” he said.
What do you make of Farrugia’s exploration vlogs?