Spelunking! In the Costa Brava
Dénia is a popular tourist destination along the Costa Blanca, especially among those from outside of Spain. Yet living so close, I had yet to go.
Finally, I decided on a quiet January weekend to do a day in Gandía (between Valencia and Dénia, reachable by commuter rail), and a day in Dénia (about 30-40 minutes from Gandía by car or bus). In Dénia, we signed up for a hike up Montgo, the dominating mountain in this part of the coast, and spelunking in a cave at the top, the Cova Ampla.
When I say we "signed up" for a tour, I actually mean that we hired a guide. Since January is low season in Costa Blanca tourism, there aren't any regularly scheduled hikes or kayaking trips or bike tours, so we got to choose a route we wanted, and it was just us two.
I came across Samuel at Aventura Pata Negra, and he was excellent! Picked us up from the city center, packed a little snack for us, explained history and vegetation, and was overall just a cool guy to chat with.
I'm glad we hired a guide. This wasn't my first experience with hiking in Spain, and I've found the routes to be very poorly signposted, and I definitely wouldn't have figured out how to reach this cave. Though it's not an unknown trail, as we met a few locals on this trek...
There were pretty awesome views of the surrounding area. This is looking out towards Jávea and the Mediterranean.
Now to enter the cave itself, I definitely wouldn't even have figured out that one could enter it without a guide! We had to basically slide down a small, dusty opening, trying to avoid the pointy stalactites above to enter. And then to exit, we had to craw out another opening commando-style, with little room to spare.
The cave itself is full of stalactites and stalagmites. And due to its inaccessibility, we were the only ones inside the cave. Illumination came only from our headlamps.
And there were a couple bats hanging out, too. They were super tiny, with even tinier feet, like little wires clinging onto the ceiling.
Overall, this was an excursion to remember. Of course, I'd been in caves before, from Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, to the Grotto Huong Tich in Vietnam. This was not extensive nor quite as intricate as Carlsbad Caverns, or as cavernous as Grotto Huong Tich. But this was a thrill in itself: after the sense of accomplishment of hiking up the mountain, you go sliding down a narrow hole like Alice in Wonderland into another world. And being there, just you and the bats, makes it a much more intimate experience.