Rock Art of Altamira

Bison rock art
Bison rock art
Guggenheim Museum - Bilbao
Guggenheim Museum - Bilbao
City of Bilbao
City of Bilbao
City of Bilbao at night
City of Bilbao at night
View over Santillana
View over Santillana
Main square of Santillana
Main square of Santillana
Mixed Spanish Tapas, Basque Country
Mixed Spanish Tapas, Basque Country
Mixed Spanish Tapas, Basque Country
Mixed Spanish Tapas, Basque Country
Bison rock art
Bison rock art
Prehistoric park at Teverga
Prehistoric park at Teverga

Decorated 15-35,000 years ago, the caves of Altamira still displays some of humankind’s first great artistic achievements. This is a unique chance to view the vivid images of horse, bison and deer that have come to epitomise Palaeolithic art. We stay in historic towns in the hills of Northern Spain. A visit to the Ice Age caves of northern Spain really is a tremendous privilege; where else could you approach original masterpieces of such immense antiquity in situ?

Led by rock art expert Dr Paul Bahn, we have arranged special access to numerous caves and rock art sites. View the images precisely where they were created, standing or crouching exactly as the original artists did.

  • Experience a tour in the company of our experts in rock art
  • Wander the spectacular cave at Tito Bustillo with its painted and engraved images
  • Explore the contrast between ancient art seen in the caves and modern art on display at the world-renowned Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao
  • Visit the facsimile of the famous Altamira Cave, known as the Sistine Chapel of cave art

Themes

  • Rock Art
  • Prehistory
  • Cultural Excursion

Practicalities

  • Small Group

Itinerary 2019

Day 1

Arrive in Bilbao and transfer to the hotel. Take the time to unwind before having dinner this evening as a group.
Hotel: Hotel Abando
Meals: Lunch & dinner included

Day 2

This morning we drive to the facsimile of the painted cave discovered in 1969 at Ekain in the Basque country, with some of the most realistic colourful depictions of horse and bison. We leave the prehistoric era behind this afternoon, with a visit to the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, built alongside the Nervion River. Note the stark contrast between ancient and modern art.
Hotel: Hotel Abando
Meals: All meals included

Day 3

We have an attractive drive through the mountains to the small cave of Covalanas, decorated with deer drawn entirely in red dotted outline. After lunch we visit the cave of El Pendo, which contains a panel 8.8m long of painted animals. 
Hotel: Overnight in Santillana del Mar
Meals: All meals included

Day 4

Today we reach the famous site of Altamira, where we see the superb facsimile of the cave and the museum. Continue along the coast to El Pindal, a cave set into the cliffs above the sea - one of the most beautiful and spectacular locations of all the decorated caves. Here there is a series of geometric signs, and a variety of animal gures, including bison, deer, a fish and an unusual painting of a mammoth.
Hotel: Overnight in Santillana del Mar
Meals: All meals included

Day 5

We travel into the hills to the south of Santillana, site of several decorated caves, two of which we will visit. Las Monedas is a large, labyrinthine cave in which bear bones were also found. The art found here is extremely homogeneous and it is considered likely that it was produced by just one person. The art of El Castillo, by contrast, clearly belongs to a number of different phases, and recently produced some of the earliest dates for cave art in the world, more than 40,000 years. There are hundreds of animal gures and 50 red hand stencils. This afternoon there will be free time to explore the historic town of Santillana.
Hotel: Overnight in Santillana del Mar
Meals: All meals included

Day 6

We travel west along the coast into the mountainous region of Asturias to La Loja - a cave with some fine engravings which stand out clearly in white against the dark rock. This afternoon we see the huge cave of Tito Bustillo, in the town of Ribadesella. It was only discovered in 1968 by a group of young cavers, and the main panel here is one of the glories of Ice Age art. The cave is rich in artworks, but is most famed for its frieze of horses and reindeer.
Hotel: Overnight in Oviedo
Meals: All meals included

Day 7

We visit Candamo, where the most famous engraving is a big stag turning its head, and apparently pierced by many spears. We also view many other fine figures, some in surprising locations. Our final visit of the tour is to the Prehistoric park at Teverga, for a superb final overview of the caves.
Hotel: Overnight in Oviedo
Meals: All meals included

Day 8

After breakfast, we transfer to the airport for our individual flights home or onward travel.
Meals: Breakfast included

Itinerary 2020

Day 1

We fly to Bilbao and transfer to our hotel.

Hotel: Overnight in Bilbao
Meals: Lunch & dinner included

Day 2

This morning we drive to see the facsimile of the painted cave discovered in 1969 at Ekain in the Basque country, with some of the most realistic colourful depictions of horse and bison. We leave the prehistoric era behind this afternoon with a visit to the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. Note the stark contrast between ancient and modern art.

Hotel: Overnight in Bilbao
Meals: All meals included

Day 3

We have an attractive drive through the mountains to the small cave of Covalanas, decorated with deer drawn entirely in a red dotted outline. After lunch we visit the cave of El Pendo, which contains a panel 8.8m long of painted animals. Interestingly, portable art made from bone and antler was also found here in tremendous quantities.

Hotel: Overnight in Santillana del Mar
Meals: All meals included

Day 4

Today we reach the famous site of Altamira, where we see the superb facsimile of the cave and the museum. Continue along the coast to El Pindal, a cave set into the cliffs above the sea – one of the most beautiful and spectacular locations of all the decorated caves. Here, we find a series of geometric signs and a variety of animal figures, including bison, deer, a fish and an unusual painting of a mammoth.

Hotel: Overnight in Santillana del Mar
Meals: All meals included

Day 5

We travel to the south of Santillana, site of several decorated caves, two of which we will visit: Las Monedas is a large, labyrinthine cave in which bear bones were also found. The art found here is extremely homogeneous and it is considered likely that it was produced by just one person. The art of El Castillo, in contrast, clearly belongs to a number of different phases and recently produced some of the earliest dates for cave art in the world – more than 40,000 years. There are hundreds of animal figures and 50 red hand stencils. This afternoon there is time to explore the town of Santillana.

Hotel: Overnight in Santillana del Mar

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch included

Day 6

We travel west along the coast into the mountainous region of Asturias to La Loja – a cave with some fine engravings, which stand out clearly in white against the dark rock. This afternoon we see the cave of Tito Bustillo, discovered in 1968 by a group of cavers. The cave is famed for its frieze of horses and reindeer.

Hotel: Overnight in Oviedo
Meals: All meals included

Day 7

We visit Candamo, where the most famous engraving is a big stag turning its head, and apparently pierced by many spears. We also view many other fine figures, some in surprising locations. Our final visit of the tour is to the prehistoric park at Teverga, for a superb final overview of the caves and their discovery.

Hotel: Overnight in Oviedo
Meals: All meals included

Day 8

We return home today.

Meals: Breakfast included

What's Included

  1. Expert Guide Lecturer
  2. Tour Manager
  3. Local Travel - Private a/c coach
  4. Meals - Most meals included with wine at dinner
  5. Entries & Tips - Entry to all sites in program; tips included
  6. Field Notes
  7. Hotels

Travel Information

Joining the Tour

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Passport & Visa Information

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2020 Tour Details

Mon 15th Jun - Mon 22nd Jun

Call for Availability

$2,995

Full Price $3085 Save $90

without flights

sgl supp: $390

ALT20A

Led By: Dr Paul Bahn

Mon 24th Aug - Mon 31st Aug

Available

$2,995

Full Price $3085 Save $90

without flights

sgl supp: $390

ALT20B

Led By: Dr Rob Dinnis

Guide Lecturers

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