On the flank of the western slope of Cumbre Vieja volcano lies “Cueva de Las Palomas” which is an impressive lava tube formed during the 1949 volcanic eruption of Volcán de San Juan; visits have been possible here, by appointment, since 2016.
The main access route into the cave entrance is via a steel catwalk built over the lava flow, and it provides good viewpoints of the variety of lava shapes, now solidified; it is helpful to provide an explanation of these different morphologies in order to establish the genesis of the lava tube, since both the surface and sub-surface features are intimately related.
After approximately 430 m, following the catwalk with several pauses for explanatory talks about lava, volcanism and speleology in general, one enters the lava tube descending beneath the ruggedly tortured rocky surface. Because the cave has been conserved mostly untouched and in its natural state, there are no electric lights inside and furthermore there is no formed pathway; therefore each visitor is provided with a caving helmet with an independent light.
We continue our journey through 280 m of downslope cave, stopping where required to explain key aspects regarding the genesis of the lava tube and answering any questions the visitors may ask. Once the educational tour has been completed we head back, retracing our steps, until we return to the beginning, covering any remaining questions not already answered during the guided tour.
Dudation of visit:30~45 minutes on the catwalk.30~45 minutes inside the cave. Duration of visits are adapted to the group’s requirements, usually with a minimum length of 50 minutes and a maximum of one and a half hours.
Personal equipment required: You should bring comfortable sturdy shoes as the rocky surfaces inside the cave are naturally rugged and can be abrasive, as well as comprising loose rocks. Open footwear or shoes such as sandals are not allowed, and trainers or leisure footwear can easily be damaged because of the sharpness of the lava. We recommend sturdy mountaineering or walking boots. The temperature inside the lava tube is approximately 17º Celsius all year round; on the surface we recommend you bring sunscreen protection for walking on the catwalks, and during times of inclement weather you would do well to bring a coat to wear, depending on the forecast.
Equipament provided for visitors during tour: Caving helmet with autonomous LED lamp, and a disposable hairnet.
Restrictions: Current regulations limit the number of people inside the cave at any one time to a maximum of 15, including guides and any translating personnel; therefore groups of visitors need to be tailored to observe this condition. The minimum age is 8 years old. There is no upper age limit, however the cave terrain is not suitable for people with mobility issues as the ground is irregular and loose in many places, and there are a couple of areas where participants must stoop beneath low roof sections. The guides reserve the right to disallow entry to visitors who are improperly dressed or who may struggle with the rigours of a visit into the cave.
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