It was an early start this chilly Sunday morning.
Our first stop was to meet our guide at the visitor centre in Ardales; this morning we were going to take a tour of the nearby prehistoric cave. The Ardales cave (Cueva de Ardales) is one of the highlights of the ‘Prehistoric Route of Guadalteba’; which includes ancient necropolis and caves.
The cave is only open for pre-booked tours of no more than 15 people, (tel: 952 458 046) but it’s really worth it. In addition to the striking cave halls there are some extraordinarily old markings and paintings, from between 8,000 and 35,000 years ago. These include motifs of horses and deer, as well as the only ‘negative hand’ paintings found in the whole of Andalucía (where the artist blows paint over the outline of their hand, rather than making a simple hand print.) No pictures are allowed in the cave, but I managed a few iphone snaps in the dark of the stalagmites and stalagmites. There is practically no lighting, just the illumination from the small torches we are given. At one point we all turned off our torches and stood in the darkness listening to the dripping water – it is amazing to experience such total darkness.
An earthquake caused an opening to the cave to be revealed in 1821, and since then the cave has been used for candle lit tours, and even shows and dances in the elevated chambers. So the smoke damage for over 150 years, before controls were put in place, has contaminated the limestone making it black and very spooky looking. The caves are not commercial and frozen in time with very simple tracks and steps, so trainers or hiking boots are essential. The cave is 1,600 metres long and on the 90minute tour one covers quite a bit of distance and climbing some 25 – 30 metres up fairly precipitous paths. Inside the temperature is stable, temperate and humid. It reminded me of our your of the ‘Cueva de la Pileta’ near Ronda.
Afterwards we drove the short distance towards Teba and walked along the stunning Tajo del Molino (Mill Gorge), a dramatic limestone canyon – really impressive. It’s part of the amazing limestone formations (once the seabed between Europe abd Africa) that also includes El Torcal near Antequera.
It was 19 degrees as we clambered over rocks and branches; crazy how the day became so warm.
Nearby Teba has an ancient castle, and the view from the top is breathtaking; one can see across to Sierra Nevada in Granada; El Torcal, Antequera; and towards La Concha and Marbella.
Of course no dayout is complete for me without a drink and some tapas; and luckily we discovered a great little bar in Teba (‘Cosa Nuestra’) that served the best homemade croquetas!