For your next trip we propose a thrilling adventure: kit yourself out with a helmet with a lamp on the front, a jumpsuit and boots, and prepare to descend into the entrails of Spain's tourist caves. This is a chance to do far more than simply go on a sightseeing trip and enables you to discover the secrets of these caves from expert guides. You'll be able to see stone forests and underground cathedrals. Here are a few ideas which will make you feel like a caver for a day.

Northern Spain Arrikrutz Cave. Gipuzkoa (Basque Country) When you opt to visit this cave (in Oñati), you'll find yourself in a very special place, as it is located in the Aizkorri-Aratz Nature Reserve and forms part of the Gesaltza-Arrikrutz karstic system (the largest subterranean system in the province). Did you know that a complete skeleton of a cave-dwelling lion was discovered here (the only finding of this type on the Iberian Peninsula)? Once there you can join any of the caving activities available (groups of maximum 20 people and a visit lasting approximately 3 hours and 30 minutes), in which you'll enter the grand gallery of Arrikrutz (today the course of the Aldaola river), the Marcel Loubens gallery –which conceals an outstanding helictite (a very unusual stalactite)–, the great hall of Etxeberria… You'll find more information on requirements, rates, dates and reservations at www.oinati.eu/turismo/arrikrutz El Soplao cave. Cantabria Its almost 20 kilometres lie within the territory of the districts of Herrerías, Valdáliga and Rionansa, and it is considered to be one of the great marvels of geology. The reason? This is a treasure made up of stalactites, stalagmites, flowstones and columns, and above all a profusion of spectacular helictites. The type of adventure tourism available (lasting approximately two hours and 30 minutes) will take you through spaces such as the Gallery of the Italians (where you'll be able to see a highly unusual collection of calcite crystals), the chamber known as the Camarín with its amber mineral formations (a world of colours thanks to the organic material on the interior), the spectacular Organ Chamber, the fanciful formation known as 'the Crocodile', and a genuine forest of stone. You'll be able to experience the incredible sensations of total darkness and complete silence. Sound good? You'll find more information on requirements, rates, dates and reservations at www.elsoplao.es   

Underground river at Valporquero cave. León (Castile-León) Why not combine canyonning with exploring the mysteries of the depths? Because Valporquero (one of the most important tourist caves in Spain) has areas through which an underground river flows. If you like, you could follow its course for a distance of over 3 km as it penetrates into the heart of the mountain through great galleries, natural chutes, waterfalls, underground lakes and abseiling walls (the activity has a duration of between four and five hours). Sounds thrilling? And you don't need to have any concerns about safety, as you'll be accompanied by expert guides. You'll find more information on requirements, rates, dates and reservations at www.guheko.com Southern Spain Nerja cave. Malaga (Andalusia) Here's the chance to access areas which are not normally open for general tourism in this cave which has been declared a Historic/Artistic Monument, and where evidence of Palaeolithic rock art has been found. This can be done thanks to pre-arranged caving visits to the upper galleries, which are a spectacular size (restricted to groups of 10 people and lasting seven hours and 30 minutes). You'll be able to see the Chamber of the Columns of Hercules, the Gallery of the Goats and the Chamber of Immensity. The activity includes breakfast and personalised explanations. Pre-registration is necessary if you want to take part (Fax: +34 952529646; E-mail: cic@cuevadenerja.com y admon@cuevadenerja.com). You'll find more information on requirements, rates, dates and reservations at http://www.cuevadenerja.es/ Enjoy an unforgettable experience. Things to remember Take the proper clothing for these activities. Some of these visits are available in several languages. It is occasionally possible to adapt the programming and the duration of the activities to the characteristics and requirements of the group: families, etc. It is advisable to book in advance. No previous experience is required, only an acceptable level of fitness and a willingness to have fun.  




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