Discover Ice Age Cave Art with Evolutionary Biologist Ian Tattersall and AMNH Expeditions
May 30 – June 8, 2012
Visit northern Spain’s wondrous prehistoric caves, with their unparalleled paintings and exquisitely preserved Hominid fossils. In the silence of each cave, in the cool and dark cavern recesses, walk in the footsteps of our earliest ancestors and behold their incredible artistry and creativity.
Special access is arranged to the caves of La Peña in San Roman de Candamo where a staggering 50+ images of deer, horses, buffalo, and bulls appear on a panel measuring over 20 feet high. Visit the cave of Tito Bustillo, one of the greatest examples of Paleolithic art.
Pindal contains animal pictographs and abstract symbols all painted in red. The Altamira Museum houses exact copies of the original paintings found in the Altamira Caves.
El Castillo is a spectacular labyrinth of stalactites and stalagmites with more than 150 figures that represent the different styles that characterize the Upper Paleolithic period. Hornos de la Peña displays lifesize paintings of horses, bison, and deer, with meticulous attention to anatomical detail.
Day 1 - Depart Home | Oviedo, Spain
Fly to Oviedo on independent flights via Madrid, arriving the following day. Arrive in Oviedo, the ancient and modern capital of Asturias, a rugged region of breathtaking mountains and a romantically beautiful coastline. Oviedo is known for its exquisite pre-Romanesque churches and lovely parks. After settling in, explore the city highlights – the fourteenth-century Gothic cathedral, the cathedral square, the Archaeological Museum housed in a former convent, where local prehistoric finds, coins, and carved wood objects are exhibited in the upper cloister. On the outskirts of Oviedo visit the Church of San Miguel de Lillo, with its exquisite interior carvings. This evening gather for a welcome dinner at a local restaurant. Hotel de la Reconquista (Meals aloft, D)
Day 2 - Caves of La Pena
Today special entry has been arranged to the caves of La Pena in San Roman de Candamo. The iconography in the caves has been dated back to the Upper Paleolithic period, and boasts more than 50 images of deer, horses, buffalo, and bulls on a panel measuring over 20 feet high. The afternoon and evening are at leisure in Oviedo. Hotel de la Reconquista (B)
Day 3 - Santander
This morning depart Oviedo on our way to Cangas de Onis, the first court of the Asturian kings and the first capital of reconquered Spain. Visit the cave of Tito Bustillo, one of the greatest examples of European Paleolithic art. This afternoon visit El Buxu Cave, discovered in 1916 and whose parietal art contains engravings and paintings representing a wide variety of geometric and zoomorphic figures. Based upon recent excavations, it is thought that Buxu served as a seasonal settlement during the summer and autumn months for the hunting of deer, ibex, and goats. Check into the Parador de Cangas de Onis and enjoy a group dinner. Parador de Cangas de Onis (B,L,D)
Day 4 - Santander | Santillana del Mar
Visit Pindal, the first cave with Paleolithic art to be discovered in Asturias. The figures depicted include animals and abstract signs, all painted in red. Continue to the lovely medieval village of Santillana del Mar. Begin with a visit to the Altamira Museum, which houses exact copies of the original paintings found at the Altamira Caves (currently closed to the public). In the village of Santillana del Mar take a walking tour through its picturesque cobblestone streets. Check into the Parador for the first of two nights. Parador de Santillana (B,L)
Day 5 - Puente Viesgo Caves
Spend the day visiting the caves at Puente Viesgo. The most spectacular, El Castillo, contains a labyrinth of stalactites and stalagmites and more than 150 figures that represent the different styles that characterize the Upper Paleolithic period. Las Monedas is approximately 300 meters deep; samples of cave art are found in a lateral chamber next to the central chamber. Hornos de la Pena displays some wonderful life-size paintings of horses, bison, and deer, with meticulous attention to the detail of the animal’s anatomy. Parador de Santillana (B,L)
Day 6 - Santander | Burgos
Depart for Ramales de la Victoria to visit the caves on Monte la Haza. Covalanas, one of the most important caves in the area, contains diverse representations of horses and red deer and was used for rituals and ceremonies. At El Miron, 40 meters below Covalanas, see a live dig from which everyday objects belonging to the inhabitants of the cave have been unearthed. Arrive in Burgos late this afternoon. Hotel Palacio de la Merced (B,L)
Day 7 - Burgos
Burgos was a medieval crossroads frequented by thousands of pilgrims on their way to Santiago. Names a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1984, the city’s cathedral rises majestically from the banks of the River Arlanzon. This Gothic Cathedral’s construction began in 1221, and is known for its splendid architecture, flying buttresses, and unique collection of artistic masterpieces. This afternoon enjoy a guided tour of the Museum of Human Evolution in Burgos. Hotel Palacio de la Merced (B,L)
Day 8 - Burgos | Atapuerca | Madrid
This morning, visit the archaeological finds of the Atapuerca sierra. Starting in the nearby village of Ibeas visit the sites of Sima del Elefante, Galeria, Sima de los Huesos and Gran Dolina. Enjoy lunch in Atapuerca before journeying to Madrid. This evening, conclude your Spanish adventure with traditional tapas at our farewell reception. Hotel Intercontinental (B,L,D)
Day 9 - Madrid | Return Home
Transfer to the airport for independent flights home. (B, Meals aloft)