Cueva del Soplao

Useful Information

Location: Motorway A8 Santander-Oviedo Exit 269 Los Tanagos-Pesues-Puentenansa. Follow N634 west towards Pesues, turn left after the bridge on CA 181, follow this road towards Puentenansa for 12 km to the turnoff Rabago. Turn left to Rabago, pas the village and follow the road for 7 km to the end at the tourist complex of El Soplao. Footpath to the cave.
Open: Adventure tours: All year daily 10, 11, 15, 16.
Phone: Mon-Sat 9-12, Sun 10-14, 16-20.
Fee: Adults EUR 9.50, Children (4-16) EUR 7, Children (0-3) free, Students EUR 7, Seniors EUR 7.
Groups (36+): Adults EUR 7, Students EUR 4.50, School Pupils EUR 4.50.
Adventure tours: Adults EUR 30, Children (0-12) not allowed.
Groups (15+): Adults EUR 25.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: L=13,000 m, A=540 m asl.
Guided tours: L=1,500 m, D=60 min.
Adventure tours: D=2 h.
Address: Cueva del Soplao, Reservations: +34-902-820282.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


2004 opened to the public.


The Cave

Geographic Situation

This cave is located to the west of the Community of Cantabria, at a height of 540 m asl, in the Sierria de Amero, which is part of the the Sierra del Escudo de Cabuérniga mountain range. The Sierra de Arnera was formed parallel to the coast.

The development of the cave is predominantly longitudinal; it is 3.5 km from the most westerly point to the most easterly one. So far more than 13,000 m of natural galleries; have been surveyed. If we add the mine workings, there is now in excess of 17 km of passages, between the villages of Rionansa and Valdáliga.

Geologic Characteristics

Cueva del Soblao is formed in both arenaceous limestones, and dolomites of Cretaceous age. There are a multitude of speleothems in the cave. The most typical formations are stalactites, stalagmites, columns, straws, eccentrics, helictites of calcite or aragonite, and pisolites, etc. These form a magnificent spectacle, making this the finest cave in the country. The stalactites, stalagmites, shields etc, which are common in many caves, acquire spectacular dimensions in the Cueva del Soblao, mainly in the entrance area near the Torca juñóse and Torca Ancha potholes. The formations in these locations have a variety of forms: cylinders, as in a plate battery, in the form of mushrooms, etc. The eccentrics or helictites are those speleothems that in section do not have an axis, unlike stalactites or stalagmites. This type of formation is that which really makes the Cueva del Soblao unique, since, although they occur in other caves, they are not so abundant, or of such a fine quality and spectacular appearance as they are in this cave. These concretions appear on the floor, walls, ceiling, on old stalactites, stalagmites, and even on the shields. They are mainly to be found in the western area of the cave (Fat Gallery, Camping Gallery, the Cauliflower and the Forest).


This is a special cave and is in an area popular with tourists. It is necessary to understand the connection between the work of man and the work of nature, since the caves have sometimes been used to ventilate the mining workings. They also leave us with an inheritance of how the mine was worked at the beginning of 20 th century. The cave was named by speleologists in the seventies, when considering "soplaos" the natural caverns that were found during mining operations.


By Footbridge

We enter the cave on board a mine train by the Isidra mine entrance. A new tunnel leads, after 400 meters, to an underground station. A walk of about 60 meters leads to the galleries that connect with the cave. This area is called the Fat Gallery, and leads to the Gallery of Ghosts and the main tourist route. The cave visit is not only of geological interest but shows the history of mining archaeology. The route is about 1,200 meters in length and lasts about an one hour.

Adventure Caving

Also available is a Turismo-Aventura type of visit which combines tourism with an exciting two hour adventure. Here the visitor may see the undeveloped parts of the cave. Suitable clothing and lighting is provided. The Isidra Mine is also visited, going as far as the False Ground where it is possible to see an area of instability. No knowledge of caving is required, this is where the adventure begins. The visitors will have the opportunity to see such impressive formations as the Camping Galleries, the Organ, the Forest, the Siren etc...


The area surrounding Soplao is well worth a visit. Only 15 km away is San Vicente de la Barquera, 40 km from Torrelavega and Santillana de Mar, 30 km from Comillas, 72 km from Santander.

For the keen tourist, to the south of the cave there is the Picos Tres Mares and the Macizo Central de los Picos de Europa, to the west is the Sierra del Cuera in Asturias, and, finally, to the north the Bay of Biscay and the towns of San Vicente of the Barquera, Comillas, and the Oyambre Natural Park .

As well as matchless views, there are more than 2,000 ha of mountain, with forests and meadows. Cows, horses and red deer, are some of the species that will be seen on the journey.

Text by Tony Oldham (2007). With kind permission.