Only 47km from Leon is the Cave of Valporquero, a cave of colossal dimensions that makes your imagination fly as if you were living the novel by Julio Verne, Journey to the center of the earth.
The Valporquero Cave
A little history
It was not until 1966 when a great engineering work was done and it was conditioned and opened to the public. Being located at high "altitude", at 1,386m, it is a cave that was never inhabited by man because of the adverse weather conditions and in particular, in this area of Spain.
It is believed that a million years ago, in the Pleistocene, the waters of the Valporquero stream began to sneak through the cracks of the mountain, and slowly over the years they created this underground wonder with thousands of stalactites or stalagmites among other.
Visiting the Cave of Valporquero
The Valporquero Cave can be classified as an underground cathedral in the heart of a mountain. It is located in a unique environment, next to the natural area of Hoces de Vegacervera and the Hayedo de Valporquero.
Inside the cave anyone can perceive that a 10-story building or a cathedral can perfectly enter. The feeling you get when you enter is like watching the Lord of the Rings movie the moment you visit the Mines of Moria.
The cave has two levels, a higher level in which travel 1.2km and a lower one of 2km, traveled by the river, only open for the practice of caving through companies specialized in the so-called Water course (You can also access if you have permission and if the degree).
Visiting the upper level
The upper level is where the tourist visit takes place and it is divided into 7 large spaces. The visit is guided and the first thing that the guide told us is that the temperature inside the whole year is 7ºC, so if you go in summer, be careful, warm up.
From the booth of ticket sales until the cave you have to cross the mountain through a tunnel dug by the man, it is not the cave although it seems, it is only the preamble to reach the entrance of the cave.
The real entrance to the cave is something you don't expect, since instead of a narrow cavity it is a mouth of colossal dimensions. Shortly after leaving the entrance you reach an area called the Great Roundabout, where you reach the 20m high and 100,000m2 of underground space, imagine the sensation of space within a mountain which causes.
Entrance to the Cave of Valporquero
In the rainy season dozens of waterfalls in the cave and the river descends through the interior of the cave wildly, creating torrents and lagoons around it. One of the most beautiful corners of the cave is the area of the Fairies, where a small illuminated lagoon and several waterfalls are formed.
Near the Fairies is a “great avenue” called Gran Via, which reaches 30 meters high and 200m long. It is the point where you access the lower level.
What most caught our attention was the fall of the river into an underground "cliff" of no less 50m high that literally disappears Valporquero river between stalactites and the steam that releases the water, creating a spooky environment.
The visit lasts just an hour, but from the beginning its beauty is already appreciated through its uniqueness, its dimensions.
The lower level, the course of the waters
In summer through specialized companies you can take the so-called course of the waters, a journey that lasts about 3 or 4 hours through the most adventurous part of the cave.
Comparing other caves in Spain
The Valporquero cave is a different cave. Unlike the Cueva de Aracena in Huelva or the Cuevas del Aguila in Ávila, the gallery sensation barely exists, but instead it is gained in space and height in many spaces. It seems somewhat supernatural to see a cavity as large as it happens in Valporquera. Another difference is the water, although there are caves that travel by boat like the Cave of San José in Castellón or have unique spaces where the water leaves you amazed, as in the case of Aracena, in Valporquera we pass to the wildest side, since we speak of a frantic river crossing a mountain between jumps and huge waterfalls. Each cave has its wonders and peculiarities, and Valporquera's has its own well differentiated.
Grotto of Wonders
How to get?
The cave is located next to the town of Felmín, north of León. You have to go along the beautiful road of the sickles of the Vegacervera and take the detour to the cave. See on Google Maps.
Next to the entrance there is a restaurant and a huge free parking as well as a nice picnic area.
Tours and schedule
Both in autumn and spring the cave looks much more for the rains or for the thaw, since it is music for your ears to hear the river and the torrents inside the cave. You should know that it closes in mid-December until the beginning of March.
The visiting hours of the cave are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Distance: 1.6km
- Duration: 60 minutes
- Steps: 322
- Distance: 2,4km
- Duration: 90 minutes
- Steps: 486
Admission is € 6 and visits are guided. There are two routes, parea the length is € 8.5.
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