The Ancient Petroglyphs Outside of Ronda, Spain

by Kelly on October 13, 2012

It was raining pretty hard when we hopped on the bus to Ronda, Spain. We figured the rain would let up throughout the four-hour bus ride.

It didn’t.

I don’t really mind the rain so much, but when I travel, I don’t usually pre-book accommodation as I much prefer to walk around the town, compare a few places and decide on the spot. In this case, that was a pretty bad plan.

There we were, my poor wet boyfriend and I, in a small town, in the rain, trying hard to keep our backpacks with our laptops under our umbrellas while running around from hotel to hotel comparing price and quality.

The rain started to let up, and we tried to walk out to the bridge in town, but the clouds were so thick we couldn’t see anything.

An hour later we were safe and sound in a nice little hotel that had free wi-fi in every room. We cozied up, watching BBC news because it was the only channel that was on in English, when the phone rang in our room.

When we checked in, we mentioned to the man at the front desk that we wanted to visit La Cueva de la Pileta, an ancient cave with petroglyphs that are over 35,000 years old.

Problem is, the caves are outside of Ronda in a town called Benaojan, and you need a car to reach them. It’s something I kind of had my heart set on, so I started talking to the man downstairs about maybe renting a cab.

He called to offer to drive us himself, instead of taking a cab. Although we paid him a little, it still saved us $20, and it was a really nice gesture.

Cueva de Piletas is pretty off the beaten track. I’m not really sure how we heard about it, but not many other people do. To see the caves, you climb the steep set of stairs in Benaojan, and wait for enough people to show up. The cave tours will only go when there are about 8 people—but if you look really helpless they may make the exception and go with five or so.

Tours are said to run at 10, 11, 1 and 4 p.m. We got there at 10, but ended up waiting along with another woman from Germany until enough people arrived, and 11 a.m. we got to go inside the cave.

I’ve been in a lot of caves, for some reason. And this was by far the coolest cave I have ever seen. There were stalagtites and stalagmites everywhere, and bats were swarming above us. It’s locally owned by a family, and hasn’t really been developed—we had to hold lanterns as we walked through. It was so cool! The only bummer is, we weren’t allowed to take pictures (the pics here are from others who either snuck the pics or had special permission.)

The petroglyphs inside are said to date back to before the Ice Age, some 35-40,000 years ago. It was so amazing, looking at these drawings right in front of me, imagining what it must have been like for cavemen so many centuries ago. It was so impressive, and might be one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.

me as a bull tamer

When we returned to Ronda, we spent the rest of the rainy afternoon relaxing, eating bull’s tail (surprisingly delicious) and walking through the Plaza de Toros, the oldest bullring in Spain. I absolutely loved Ronda—it’s like a city on an island in the sky with sharp cliffs on both sides—and I was sad to have to leave.

That is, until we got to Sevilla.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Kyle September 16, 2014 at 6:05 am

Not sure if you might be able to respond to this. Would it be dangerous to take a very well behaved six year old in these caves? He goes on plenty of long hikes. I just don’t know if the caves themselves are inherently dangeous to hike to or walk in.

Mark Baldwin December 28, 2014 at 2:12 pm

I’ve been in this wonderful cave. I did not take children, but I would if it is OK with the cave keeper. (I took a 7-year-old up Mr. Katahdin). The climbs in the cave have stone steps. The guide is great. Tourists are issued lanterns. Ask if it is OK for the child to have his/her own flashlight. I would look at pictures and talk about the cave first, say it’s OK, that people lived there for a long time, etc. Also, there are a lot of steps leading up from the parking lot, but a 6-year-old may run.

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