The caves of Aralar, previously only accessible to top speleologists and adventure lovers, were adapted by Cuevas de Astiz in Summer 2005 for all to enjoy.
Some scientists regard the subterranean world to be the sixth continent, as yet undiscovered. The main features of the subterranean world are the lack of light, very high humidity (close to saturation point), high concentrations of CO 2 , air currents, etc.
We as a species are adapted to life on the surface, so it's no surprise that we know so little about a subterranean world that has been limited to speleologists up to now. Cuevas de Astiz S.L. has adapted the cave of Mendukilo to overcome these difficulties and allow everybody to get to know what lies beneath Aralar at first hand.
The cave is in the Concejo de Astiz area and was used as a mountain refuge for shepherds for hundreds of years. Summer 2005 saw it take on a new role when it was adapted to welcome visitors. To minimise the problems inherent in the subterranean world, the cave has been equipped with a walkway, dynamic lighting and a multimedia system. This means that the route is accessible to anyone able to climb stairs. All visits are accompanied by local guides, and there is a maximum of 50 in each group. The visit lasts for 60 minutes and takes us through three rooms:
Artzainzulo (The Shepherd's Shelter): As this room is next to the entrance, it receives natural light and its spectacular size means that it is quite well lit. Here we can observe the first, modest geological formations. At the end of the room we enter the Jentileio (The Gentiles Window) and go down some 28 metres (90 steps) to the very bowels of the cave. We are now In the Hartz-zuloa (Bair's Lair) . This room acts as a hub, with all the other rooms leading off from it.
Laminosin (The Lake Room): The most attractive feature of this room is the incredible amount and variety of geological formations that surround us and which we can see from very close up: stalactites, stalagmites, sinkholes, etc.
Herensugearen Gotorlekua (The Dragon's Den): The last room stands out for its incredible size (60 metres long and 20 metres high in some places). From here we return to the surface where the visit ends at the cave mouth.
A Visitor's Centre has been built nearby to complement and help you to get the most out of your visit. Here you can find an audiovisual room, exhibition area, bar and a small shop.
In the audiovisual room you can watch a 15-minute documentary that explains the features of the subterranean world, using the Sierra de Aralar for reference purposes. The exhibition room is decorated to recreate the subterranean world and here you can see the different geological formations to be found in the cave.
The cave of Mendukilo is waiting to reveal its marvels to you. Observe, learn, enjoy and respect.