Never in a million years i have thought i could feel teleported to a seventies movie about martians. When you visit the Cuevas dels Hams in Mallorca, it’s not hard to figure yourself landing in Mars, waving at the friendly martians…
A while ago i made a decision about what i wanted to achieve travel wise. I was longing to see more natural, less city like places… I wanted to see different things from what i was used to, and get away from big cities and busy places. It was clear to me that this implied a pause in my usual travelling through Europe’s capitals and big cities, yes, Europe is beautiful, but after a while seeing medieval constructions or gothic arches becomes your everyday meal… I needed a rest of this, i needed some fresh air.
Getting away from the cities demands more time and a little bit more of money than i’m used to spending, so i always thought this new era in my travelling would take a while to become a reality.
Well, it turns out you always do have some near by nature spot to discover, in my case, i discovered that in Mallorca (place i’m often visiting due to personal reasons, wink wink), you could go see caves, and that some of them are amazingly well prepared for visiting tourists as myself.
The ‘fresh air’ thing i said before… Just a way of speaking because i’m actually going to be talking about how i got underground where ‘fresh air’ is not exactly a phrase you would use unless you say something like…”I need some fresh air”!!!
The Cuevas dels Hams are located in Porto Cristo, a town that belongs to Manacor, Mallorca, also home of the Cuevas del Drach. This kind of caves are made by the erosion of the water into the rock, and it’s creation takes millions of years. The Caves dels Hams, the ones i’m talking about, were discovered in 1905 by Pedro Caldentey Santandreu by chance, while he was digging the grounds to find onyx. Finding the caves was a great discovery, of such magnitude, that the caves had electric lightning even before Porto Cristo’s town did. Everyone wanted to visit the caves, it’s opening attracted many famous people and personalities of the 1900’s. Quite the event i imagine 🙂
During my days in Mallorca i visited both caves: The Cuevas dels Hams and the Cuevas del Drach, but in my opinion the Cuevas dels Hams have no match: They’ve done it so well, adding cosmic ambiental music to the led lighting you get an amazing immersion experience… All of this combined to the humid atmosphere, the temperature, and the particular scent of the place, it makes us feel in a whole other planet!
This place is fantastic. The price a little bit higher compared to other caves but in my opinion is totally worth it, you can tell there has been thought put to this and dedication, all to offer a different experience.
When you get into the premises, there’s a sort of waiting room surrounded by a huge garden, here we are already in lower ground, you go down several stairs to get there. This place is what they have called the Round Cave, and the amazing vegetation is thanks to the special microclimate that it’s created there, with slightly lower temperatures and higher humidity levels compared to the surface.
In the second part of the visit, we go into the Blue Cave where we are to see one of two video projections: A documentary about Mallorca’s history and the caves discovery. Further in, we will get to see a second video projection, this time on the actual walls of the cave, they will show us the history of universe as we know it and some mentions to evolution. This one movie i loved! It’s all fantastic and sparkly and it is amazing to see surrounded by the cave’s mysterious halo.
This part of the cave has steel walkways built to help you get to the ends of the cave. All the illumination is in blue, light blue and teal tones, the rest is left dark. The stalactites and stalagmites create wonderful light-shadow effects on the walls.
The stalagmites and stalactites are also created thanks to water and calcareous minerals, mainly calcite: As the water filters through the rocks from the sea, and as it drops inside the cave, it will carry with it a lot of minerals that slowly, and drop by drop, will be accumulated, creating eventually, a stalactite. Stalagmites are the same but the other way around: The water that drops and dries, will eventually leave an accumulation of minerals that will continue to grow up as the mineral keeps on drying and accumulating in the same spot. It is hard to tell how fast this structures grow, i find different information in every single different article i read, i’m guessing it depends on the cave’s activity… But if there’s something you should know is that in some caves, it takes around thirty years to grow a centimeter of stalactite/stalagmite… So, be sure to resist temptation and not to take any as a souvenir back home, nature has to work hard to build them!!!
The third part of the visit takes place in the Classic Cave.
We leave the Blue Cave to go out again to the Round Cave and into this last part of the visit. This last cave is gigantic, and it’s lighting less dramatic, in more neutral and organic tones. Here’s where we get to see the kind of stalactites shaped as fish hooks that gave the name to this caves (‘hams’: fish hooks in Mallorquín). No one knows the real reason behind this gravity defier stalactites!
In this part of the visit i felt more ‘in touch’ with the cave: You walk through very thin tunnels, and if you pay attention you can see the ‘life’ of the cave: Dripping water or incipient stalactites on the floor, you can see damp spots and there’s a lot of humidity! Some of the most spectacular parts are protected by wire netting, just in case some idiot wanted to see if they cracked by touching them…
At the end of the itinerary you get to an underground lake called Venice Lake. To my deception, you don’t get a boat ride, booo! But you do get a music show, with projections on the lake’s walls and a little lit boat sails slowly through the lake while the music is playing. It’s nice to see.
As a plus, we got an amazing guide, even though the visit is not guided per se, you do get to go with a guide, and he will gladly answer any questions you might have about the caves. As a second plus, with our tickets we got a glass of sangría for free, and then hot dogs are only one euro.
A tour, sangría AND cheap food? Personally, there’s not much more i can ask for!!!
Useful link: www.cuevasdelshams.com