Cueva de Chufín

Cueva del Moro Chufín


Useful Information

Location: Riclones, Rionansa.
On the road Carretera Comarcal CA-181 from Puenta Nansa to Celis, after Celis left to Riclones. Visitor Reception Center located at the soccer field, at the entrance of Riclones.
(43.282917906725544, -4.445110973324706)
Open: All year Wed-Sat 10:30-14:30.
[2021]
Fee: Adults EUR 15, Children (4-12) EUR 7.50, Children (0-3) free.
[2021]
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave ArchaeologyPainted Cave
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension:  
Guided tours: D=90 min, Max=6,
Photography: forbidden
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: M. Almagro (1973): Las pinturas y grabados de la cueva de Chufín (Ciclones, Santander) The paintings and engravings of the cave of Chufín (Ciclones, Santander), Trabajos de Prehistoria 30, pp. 9-67.
M. Almagro Basch, V. Cabrera Valdés, F. Bernaldo De Quirós (1977): Nuevos hallazgos de arte rupestre en cueva Chufín, Riclones (Santander) Trabajos de Prehistoria 34, pp. 9-29.
Address: Cueva de Chufín, Antonio Gómez Fraile, 39553 Riclones, Tel: +34-942-727457.
Reservation, Tel: +34-942-598425.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

1940s construction of the La Palombera reservoir.
1972 prehistoric art inside the cave discovered by M. de Cos Borbolla.
1972-1973 art explored by M. Almagro Basch, the director of the National Archaeological Museum.
1974 excavation of the shelter by V. Cabrera Valdés and F. Bernaldo de Quirós.
13-AUG-2008 inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Description

The Cueva de Chufín (Chufin Cave) is located at the confluence of the Rivers Lamasón and Nansa, at the foot of a limestone cliff. The river has been dammed forming the Embalse de Palombera (Palombera reservoir). The cave has always been difficult to reach, and for decades the guide rowed visitors in groups of four to the cave, using a small boat. Some time ago a trail was built to the cave, and today groups have a maximum size of 6 persons, which have to walk 2 km or 30 minutes to the cave. On rainy days (which are rather rare in Spain) the trail may be muddy and slippery. It the trail is flooded the cave visit is cancelled, fortunately this happens only rarely during winter rains. However, the obstacles are not over when you reach the entrance, which is gated by a massive iron bar gate. From the wide rock-shelter at the entrance a low passage leads to a large chamber. About 15 m of this passage require crawling, due to the low height. There are no trails, no railings, and no electric light, in other words the cave is not developed in any way. This cave is definitely not for the faint hearted!

The shelter at the entrance was occupied by humans around 17,420±200 BP. The view from the cave entrance made this place an excellent hunting base. The shelter has several engravings, which are less fragile than paintings. Most common are 14 hinds, but there is also a bison, other bovines, possibly a fish, and diverse abstract patterns. The were created using the abrasion technique, which creates wide and deep lines. They are thought to be of Gravettian or early Solutrean age. If other engravings or paintings existed, they have been completely destroyed by the weather.

The main chamber is called Sala del Lago,because it ends at an artificial lake, at least that's how they call it. The creation of the Palombera reservoir raised the ground water level, and so the lower parts of the cave system flooded. The shaft which was the access to lower level flooded, and the lake is the visible part of the ground water table.

The chamber shows paintings in red and ocher and engravings of animals. The red pigment is quite intensive and was mostly applied in rows of dots, forming a sort of pattern, so those paintings stand out. They show horses, an aurochs, various scores organized in series, a female figure and a deer. Some were interpreted as genital representations. Numerous engravings can also be found, made by both techniques, incision and abrasion. Incision is normally finer and more delicate. The engravings show bison, horses, bovids, deer, capybaras, a possible wading bird, and at least one anthropomorphic figure. The engravings in the shelter, some in the inner part, and the red figures are thought to be older than Magdalenian, more than 16,000 BC, although it is not possible to determine the exact age. The finer engravings and paintings are thought to be younger, around 11,500 BC.

The cave is generally named Cueva de Chufín, but its full name is actually Cueva de Moro Chufín. It was named after a "moor" (moslem occupator) who according to legend has buried a treasure in the cave. This type of legend is extremely common and always untrue, but nevertheless treasure hunters made holes inside the cave in order to locate this treasure.

The number of visitors to this cave is extremely restricted. During high season it it is normally completely booked out, tickets are available at the box office only in cases of no-show, and are sold in the order of arrival. So it is advisable to buy the ticket online, by email, or by phone several days in advance. The reservation or purchase must be validated at the box office at least 15 minutes before the start of the visit, otherwise they are sold. The Visitor Reception Center is located at the soccer field, at the entrance of Riclones from Las Herrerías. It is essential to wear clothes which may get dirty, because of the crawling, and sturdy walking shoes for the trail. Helmets, hand lamps, and knee pads are provided. We would have classified this as a wild cave or cave trekking tour but it is officially listed as a show cave. Nevertheless, think hard if your children are up to this before you take them with you, despite the surprisingly moderate restrictions for young children.