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Caving in the Hundidero-Gato Complex


Entering the Hundidero-Gato Complex, in the heart of the Sierra de Grazalema Nature Reserve, is like venturing into the depths of the earth. An epic journey worthy of explorers from the past. Both caves make up a single underground system with a trail that is more than 4 kilometres long, where nature, history and caving combine. For all these reasons, this spot has become one of the mythical caves in the world of Spanish caving.

The culprit is the River Gaduares which, after going deep into the Hundidero Gorge (Montejaque), bores a hole in Sierra de Algarrobo, comes out again in Gato Cave (Benaoján) and spills out into the River Guadiaro. Inside there is a veritable labyrinth of galleries that is over 10 km long. Calcareous formations and speleothems that will catch your imagination, huge lakes and rooms where you could spend an eternity without noticing the passage of time. Sometimes, the sound of water breaks the silence and turns into torrents that have shaped caves that are up to 70 metres high, such as the Sala de las Dunas or the Cabo de las Tormentas, which emerge like cathedrals in the midst of such a fascinating journey.

This adventure is not only a foray into caving, it is also a journey back in time, to learn more about geology and history. To learn more about prehistoric people who inhabited these caves, and also about the romantic travellers of the 19th century, who entered the depths of the caves with lots of good ideas but few resources. 

But this place hides many other surprises. As Sir Francis Carter would say in 1760, albeit mistakenly, inside were the remains of a temple dedicated to the infernal gods. It was a way of saying that the influence of men was always present here, daringly trying to tame nature itself. This was the case in the 1920s, when a concrete dam was built – a titanic construction that had to be abandoned after confirming that there was no human force, despite repeated attempts, that would be able to retain water in this karstic environment. 

The cave survived this fierce blow, although not without consequences, and today it is possible to enter this impressive underworld and carry on feeling the overwhelming force of nature. We must, however, respect this fragile yet powerful natural monument, and the sport of caving, as it requires knowledge, equipment and special permits, so it should only be practised accompanied by qualified people.

And we must also bear in mind that this complex is home to one of the largest colonies of cave bats in Europe, along with other endemic species of invertebrates. Their safety comes first!

Caving in the Hundidero-Gato Complex