Post by dfm:
Tenerife is part of the Canarian archipelago. These islands are located in the Atlantic Ocean, not very far from the coast of Morocco. There are 7 islands, which are Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Tenerife, La Gomera, La Palma and finally El Hierro. All islands are of volcanic origin and the main hypothesis of formation refers to a magma hot spot leading to the formation of the islands. I have had the chance over time to visit several islands (Lanzarote, Gran Canaria and lastly Tenerife). Of course each island has its own charm and interest, but I must admit that Tenerife has left me with a stronger impression.
The variety of landscapes, type of lavas, volcanic cones, lava fields is really impressive. Also the fact that, even in the national park, one can go roughly as he pleases is to be taken into account (In Lanzarote, for instance, you cannot take a walk on the lava fields in the national park).
So here is my account of a visit made to the Cueva de los Vientos.
The Cueva de los Vientos is located in the village of Icod de los Vinos, on the west side of the island. It has been proposed as a touristic attraction since only a few years (I think 2009). First there is a quick presentation by the guide of the volcanic origin of the island, and some explanations on how lava tubes form and of the different type of lavas produced by the Teide (A’a and Pahoehoe in this location). Then the tour continues with the visit itself and begins with a short trip by minibus to the cave area.
The guide shows different types of lava on the site and then we proceed with the visit of the cave using an old bridle path to get access to the cave.
The Cueva del Viento itself is a very large structure (the largest of its type in Europe) with a cumulative length of about 17 kilometers. Only 200 meters are open to visit.
The formation of the cave (or caves) dates back to a Pico Viejo eruptive episode about 27.000 years ago.
The visit allows to see many volcanic features related to lava tubes.
Hard hats and spelunking type lights are supplied, there is no artificial lighting in the cave.
Details from the tube’s ceiling with solidified drops of lava.
Inside the tube – note the different heights of the floor showing different periods of the eruption with diminishing lava flowrates. The width of the canal is about 2,5 meters.
A side tunnel – there are several lava tubes in this network. Note the texture of the floor, which is quite irregular and shows the lava flow when it cooled down and solidified.
Two tubes converge.
Here one can very clearly see different phases of the eruption with diminishing lava height.
This is a fallen section of ceiling showing a Pahoehoe pattern. This shows the tunnel formation mechanism in which lava cools in surface and continues flowing underneath in the newly formed tunnel. Sometimes the ceiling falls after a time. In that case the event happened after the lava flow stopped in the tunnel. In the area there can be several layers of lava tubes all piled up a bit like tunnels for subway systems.
The visit finishes off with some time in the dark to feel the atmosphere of the cave (in which some specific fauna can be found). The visit finishes by a return to the visitor center by minibus looking at A’a type lava flows.
You can find all the information needed on the website. Some visits are in English, German, French or Spanish, depending on the day of the week.
As Inge B. mentioned, please note these posts about the Lanzarote lava tubes by ukviggen: