Fifth largest volcanic tube in the world is waiting to enchant you
La Cueva del Viento or Cave of the Winds, located in Icod de los Vinos, has received more than 125,000 visitors since its opening in June 2008.
It is the largest volcanic tube in the European Union and the fifth largest in the world.
Run by Tenerife Cabildo, museums’ chief Amaya Conde says: “It has become an important resource of tourist interest.”
The Cave of the Wind was formed 27,000 years ago, with basaltic lavas that came from the first eruption of the Pico Viejo volcano, located next to Mount Teide. Its name is due to the air currents that are produced inside.
It is composed of a large network of underground passages and there are innumerable branches that remain to be explored, in order to extend its length in the future. It stands out for its geomorphological charac-teristics, since its galleries are arranged in three overlapping levels and this phenomenon has not been found anywhere else in the world. In addition, it presents a great variety of structures of primary origin such as lava stalactites, lava flows, lateral terraces and lava lakes, among others.
Under the management of the Cabildo, interested parties can enjoy a two-hour visit to the site, accompanied by an expert guide who explains the characteristics of this volcanic cavity.
As the cave does not have artificial lighting, the inner route is made with a helmet with electric light. The visitable section contains numerous formations and phenomena ‘drawn’ by the lava when advancing and changing its viscosity. It runs through the area of medium-sized crops, pine and fayal-heath, lava fields, as well as an old royal road and farmhouses.
Visiting hours vary de-pending on the time of year. In summer, they take place on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, from 9am to 7pm; and on Tues-days, Saturdays and Sundays, from 9am to 4.30pm. In winter (from October to March), they take place every day until 5pm, except on Thursday, which is until 6pm.
Advance purchase of online tickets is necessary by accessing the website http://www.cuevadelviento.net.
Another outstanding aspect of the Cueva del Viento is its subterranean fauna. The cave houses a total of 190 known species, mostly invertebrates. Of these, 15 are new to science, such as the cock-roach without eyes Loboptera subterranea or the carabids Wolltinerfia martini and Wolltinerfia tenerifae. Inside you can also find fossils of extinct vertebrate animals, such as the giant rat and lizard, other bone remains of species that have disappeared in Tenerife, such as the graja and the hubara.
This cavity was already known by the Guanches more than 2,000 years ago, since remains of burials have been found in it. But until the year 1776 there is no reference. In the same year, the brothers Bethencourt de Castro and Afonso Molina quote it in their description of the Cave of San Marcos.
In 1994 the refurbishment works began to make the volcanic tube visitable, coordinated by the old Museum of Natural Sciences, now integrated into the Museum of Nature and Man. One of the first actions was to deconstruct the mouth where one of the branches ended.
In 1998, the Canary Islands Government approved, in order to guarantee its conservation, a Natural Resources Manage-ment Plan for the Cueva del Viento, a step prior to its declaration as a Special Nature Reserve. The Plan was born to stop the actions that damage the Cave, like new con-structions, alteration of the ground or any type of spill. In addition, it establishes me-asures for improvement, such as a sewage network that prevents the discharge of sewage and the support of scientific research or environ-mental education.