Visitor Centre at Cuevo De Llanos.

A visitor centre is open at the Cuevo Del Llano in Villaverde, La Oliva

The centre is open Tuesdays to Saturdays.
Tours are every 30 minutes from 10.15 to 12.45 and from 14.45 to 17.15.

Prices 5€ per person,
Children under 12 free.
Groups of 10 or more 3.75€ per person.
Residents 2.50€

Telephone 928 175 928

The cave is a million years old, and is the oldest in all the archipelago. It is home to an endemic arachnid, Maiorerus Randoi, and has a subterranean gallery that is 400m in length and 7 to 10m metres wide.

This visitor’s centre, with almost 400m of accessible cave, is unique within the Canaries. The cave was constructed from a volcanic pipe of considerable dimensions, and is accessed via a large jameo (part of the tube whose roof has collapsed) divided into two branches. The north branch, which is larger and more inclined, is some 500 metres in length, and visitors can easily access some 400 metres of this branch.

Throughout its history man has put the cave to different uses. These include a corral for camels, a poultry coup and an arsenal. In recent decades the cave suffered a state of degradation that threatened the ecosystem of the cave.

Interesting Biology

In a study carried out by the Faculty of Biology of the Universidad de La Laguna unusual results were seen. Without doubt the most spectacular discovery was that of the opilionid (harvestman) Maiorerus randoi, an arachnid that does not spin a web. This species is exclusive to Cueva del Llano, which is the only cave on Fuerteventura with a suitable environment. It is also one of seven Canarian arachnids in danger of extinction.

Maiorerus randoi is an example of a species adapted to the eternal darkness of a subterranean life. As a result it has lost its pigmentation and is a yellowish colour. Its eyes, useless in the subterranean depths, have completely wasted away. This species is an example of what is sometimes called a living fossil, there being no other similar species in the Canaries. Its ancestors probably arrived on the archipelago in a former time when the climate was more humid.

Among the fauna of the volcanic pipe there are also other new species, Spernophorides fuertecavensis wunderlicht, another arachnid that is adapted to its environment, but not to the same extent as Maiorerus randoi. To ensure the conservation of both these species, along with others within the ecosystem, measures have been taken to restrict access to the areas where they live, as well as to control the humidity.

The southern branch is completely silted up, apart from a section excavated by the Cabildo. In this stretch there is an important paleontological site, rich in the remains of vertebrates and gastropod fossils and sub fossils.

Reasons for Creating the Centre

According to the president of the Cabildo, it is the importance of this section from a scientific and cultural point of view, together with the rest of the cave that caused the Cabildo to go ahead with the creation of the museum. Valuing the possibilities to convert the site into an important cultural centre that would allow its visitors to have the opportunity to access the reconstruction of a very important part of the past of our islands.

He also says the result has been excellent, because the centre, importantly limited in its exterior construction, has been taken as a model of intervention in many international forums.

The primary objective is the protection of the cave. Before the Cabildo began to develop the museum, the cave was completely without protection, allowing indiscriminate visits, which could have had a serious effect on the fauna that lives there.

The Museum

Once the work was completed, the museum was developed in conjunction with experts in the field from the Cabildo of Tenerife.

The result is a museum based around four themes.

1 The geological history of Fuerteventura.
2 Volcanism and the formation of volcanic pipes.
3 The evolution of biodiversity on Fuerteventura.
4 Subterranean life endemic to the cave.

The project is based on a finca where the entrance to the cave is located. A Majorero style building has been created and the entrance to the cave has been created close to the jameo with a wall surrounding it.

The low building includes a foyer, an exhibition room, a gift shop, a cafeteria, toilets and stores, with a total area of 425 square metres.

Paleontological Interest

This cave is unique among the lava pipes of the Canaries. It is a special example, as it provides information about the general erosion of Fuerteventura, and has an abundance of animal fossils trapped in its sediments.

These remains mean that the site is one of paleontological interest, and among the lava pipes of the Canaries it has the greatest concentration of remains. The cave is a typical lava pipe that has functioned for thousands of years as the drain of a small water catchment. The successive streams of water that have poured in its interior have filled the cavity with sediments, and these have gradually reduced the length of the cave. The cave has in fact behaved as a subterranean ravine. Another distinguishing feature of the cave is its own existence, since the long erosive process that Fuerteventura has suffered has erased most of the volcanic structures of the island. Only some examples of the effects of the eruptions of the last four million years are conserved.

Fuerteventura’s only Cave Ecosystem.

The cave is the only one in Fuerteventura that can harbour cave species. This is due to the high humidity and to the environmental stability, which in turn is a consequence of two circumstances: the location of its mouth in the valley, acting of drain of rain water, and the backfill of its cracks by clay, which impedes rapid evaporation.

The subterranean level has a poor ecosystem, due to the high environmental humidity and the absolute darkness. The animals that populate this level are, mostly, insects and arachnids adapted to live permanently in the darkness.

Geological Dimensions.

The cave is a million years old. It is a lava pipe whose length is 648 meters, although the last 200 prove difficult to explore, as they are almost plugged by sediments. The passable zone of the pipe is of considerable dimensions, with widths from 7 to 12 meters and heights between 3 and 5 meters. The slope is low, of barely a degree and the walls, worn by the passing of time, have tide marks of clay that indicate the different levels of flood that the cavity has suffered. There is another branch some 40 metres from the entrance that has been completely blocked by these sediments.

Geological History

The volcanic eruption that caused the Cave of the Plain has been a mystery for a long time. The pipe, as indicated its name, appears in the middle of a plain, (Cuevo de Lllanos means cave of the plains), without any apparent connection with some volcano or nearby eruption. The erosion, sedimentation and subsequent eruptions have erased the tracks of its development, and scientists have had to use indirect means to determine it origin of the cave.

It is the oldest zone on the island and represents the phase of underwater growth, which happened more than 20 million years ago, the oldest materials having an age of 70 million years and more. Geographically it is in the zone known as the Massif of Betancuria, where there have been other subsequent geological phenomena. These have helped construct the main nucleus of the island. Three main volcanoes with ages between 12 and 20 million years built the island. The main one, at Betancuria, surpassed 3.000 m in altitude. Nowadays the island is very eroded (the Betancuria Massif is only a few hundred metres high) and it is difficult to reconstruct the history of the island with accuracy and detail.

The geological data places the origin of the cave in the volcano of Mount Escanfraga, whose age surpasses 800.000 years. This age is calculated from the magnetic polarity rather than by the caliches (covering layers). The lavas of the cave and of Escanfraga have inverted polarity (the most recent inversion of terrestrial magnetism occurred some 800.000 years ago). Thehe nearby Cave of Villaverde has a normal polarity that suggests a later eruption that poured new lava over the lava arising from Mount Escanfraga.

A Lake of Lava

The cave is a volcanic pipe that was formed from a pool of lava that was emptied slowly. While the surface of the lake solidified, the liquid lava of the interior flowed away, leaving enormous empty spaces. The sediments that accumulated in the cave are the result of transportation from outside and the erosion of the walls of the pipe. Water and clay, as well as the remains of animals that today we see fossilised, were transported from the small catchment area.

Fossil Record

There are five phases of deposits that show how two humid periods have alternated with drier ones. The most humid epochs are detected by the abundance of species associated with humid conditions, as is the case of some terrestrial conches. The mollusc fossils of the first period have been dated to some 15.000 years, and the second to around 7.500 years.

The fossils of the Cave show Fuerteventura as an island that has had humid periods, with more vegetation, as indicated by some of the species found. The sediments have also conserved the remains of vertebrates that are extinct, such as the bobwhite canary (Coturnix gomerae) and the lava mouse (Malpaisomys insularis). Mammals, reptiles and birds are among the vertebrates appearing in the fossil register of the volcanic pipe, and most of the vertebrates found are the result of the feeding habits of other species, such as the common owl. Other remains have been carried to the cave in the water and clay.

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Visitor centre
The visitor centre

Directions
View of Villaverde,
from the entrance on the right

Sign
The sign is set back off the road

Jose and Julie, the tour guides
Jose and Julie,
the guides speak English, Spanish and German

Cueva del Llano
The path to the cave

The entrance
The entrance

 Maiorerus Randoi
Maiorerus Randoi,
not a spider and it doesn´t spin webs!

Cafe and Gift shop
Cafe and Gift shop

Flowers
Flowers by the entrance road

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