September 7 through September 14, 2009

This was an 8 day Andante Travels tour, with most of the group from the UK and a few from the US and elsewhere.  As with most cave art tours, we weren’t allowed to take photos in the caves, though some of the visitor centers had replicas that we could photograph.

The photos are "geotagged".  This adds GPS data (latitude, longitude, elevation, etc.) to the photo metadata, just as the camera brand and model, date and time, exposure info, etc. are automatically recorded by the camera itself.  Therefore, you can see exactly where each photo was taken, usually to within a few meters.  Unfortunately, the MobileMe web site will only display the GPS info, it doesn't actually map it directly at this time.  Google’s Picasa web site does an excellent job of integrating geotagged photos with Google Earth and Google Maps, so I’ve uploaded the photos there also.  (Somehow I didn’t get GPS data on Sept. 8 or part of Sept. 14, so those photos were geotagged manually.)

The photos here are not edited, except for the GPS info, though some would benefit from some adjustments.  They’re size-reduced for the web, but I’d be happy to send you individual photos or a DVD with the full-resolution photos.

The following itinerary is copied from the Andante website, with a couple of comments added in [brackets], and the addition of the “Photos” and “Picasa” links to the photo galleries for each day.


Altamira ‐ the Cave Paintings of Northern Spain 2009

Monday 7 September - Monday 14 September 2009


Day Zero
[Margaret and I start a day earlier than the tour, flying from Denver to Frankfurt to Bilbao, and meet the group at Bilbao airport.]

Day One
Arrival at Bilbao and transfer to hotel.

Day Two    Photos    Picasa
Drive east to the facsimile of the painted cave discovered in 1969 at Ekain, with polychrome horse and bison. Afternoon to the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao - a day juxtaposing the most ancient art with the most contemporary.  [All photos geotagged manually.]

Day Three    Photos    Picasa
Attractive drive through the mountains to the small cave of Covalanas with frieze of red spotted deer. Steep walk up to this cave, and only a few people may enter at once, but it is worth the wait! Afternoon visit to the cave of El Pendo, with its panel 8.8m long of painted animals outlined with dots. On to our hotel in Santillana del Mar.

Day Four    Photos    Picasa
The famous cave of Altamira is 1.5km up a country road - a pleasant walk in good weather.  A superb new facsimile of the cave and museum opened in summer 2001, and it is no longer possible to get access to the original cave. Along the coast to El Pindal, a cave set into the cliffs above the sea, with an unusual painting of a mammoth.

Day Five   Photos    Picasa
In the hills to the south of Santillana, by the pretty village of Puento Viesgo, are two decorated cave sites which we will visit: Las Monedas is a large, labyrinthine cave and El Castillo close by. Afternoon free in Santillana.

Day Six    Photos    Picasa
Tito Bustillo cave with spectacular frieze of horses and reindeer. La Loja, a cave with some fine engravings which stand out clearly in white against the dark rock.

Day Seven    Photos    Picasa
Candamo; the most famous engraving is a big stag turning its head, and apparently pierced by many spears. Prehistoric park at Teverga, housing facsimiles of the most significant cave art from a variety of sites.

Day Eight    Photos    Picasa
Oviedo for flight home.  [All photos geotagged manually.  Margaret and I fly with the group from Oviedo to Stansted Airport NE of London, take a bus to Heathrow Airport, and take a city bus to the hotel where we have rooms for the night,]

Day Nine
[Margaret and I take the city bus back to Heathrow and fly back to the US.]

Altamira Cave Art 2009