The guide, Raquel, made our visit. Her easygoing demeanor and captivating way of explaining things made the site come to life. There were only two children in the group, but we adults made up for it by acting just like kids jumping to answer Raquel's questions and participate whenever she asked for a volunteer.
If you're planning on going, you need to book your tour in advance (I did it over the phone), and you can pay for it right before starting. The price per person is 11€. This includes guided tours of the Atapuerca dig site and the Archeological Park. In my opinion, it's not a bad price considering the importance of the place and the fact that it's a guided tour. I recommend visiting the Museo de la Evolución Humana along with this (we visited the museum the day before).
The route: get to the first visitor center just outside Ibeas de Juarros (that's the first meeting point). You can drive there yourself (we did because after Atapuerca we were leaving to another city) or catch the shuttle in Burgos. Once there, a bus comes to pick you up and take you to the archeological site (just a five-minute drive). The visit lasts for about and hour. Catch the bus back to the visitor centre and SURPRISE! You have to go to the archeological park all by yourself! "Meet you there in an hour," the guide told us. We were a bit flustered, but they gave us a good map before leaving. It's about a ten-minute drive from one place to another, but be careful because we ended up at the wrong visitor center (typical--see below). The archeological park is fun because there are several interactive stops, plus the guide was great (as usual). You can craft tools, throw spears and shoot arrows, and then the guide demonstrates different ways of making fire. After that, the visit comes to a close.
Overall, we spent a nice morning and left satisfied. It takes you about three hours, though one hour is actually dead time between visits. NOTE: the entire tour was in SPANISH. Strangely, I don't believe there are any tours in English. At least, I never saw that option (it wasn't on their website or anywhere else during the visit).
Even though our general impression was good, there are several reasons why I don't give Atapuerca five stars:
1) Getting there is a nightmare. The indications on the website are ridiculous. The instructions on the booking confirmation are laughable. There aren't any signs on the roads. Our guide told us that they've complained several times to whatever government body is in charge of the area, requesting to have signs put up so visitors can find the site, but no one pays them any attention. Shameful keeping in mind the importance of the site. We had to stop and ask for directions several times, only to end up at the wrong place (some other Atapuerca visitor center), and have the woman in there give us directions all over again. The website says the meeting point is in the town Ibeas de Juarros--NO! It's not! The meeting point is about 2 kilometers outside the town! There's a completely DIFFERENT Atapuerca information building in the town, so don't make this mistake or you'll miss your tour! Driving along the empty road you'll see a massive eyesore of a building with an empty parking lot--that's the place.
2) The visitor center buildings are a disgrace. Huge ultra-modern blocks sitting there in the middle of nowhere just looking ugly. That wouldn't be so bad if they at least had SOMETHING of interest inside! The first visitor center building had nothing more than the ticket office, bathrooms and a tiny exhibit on the mining company that used to operate in the area. We're in the all-important Atapuerca, about to see the dig sites--why the heck can't you give me something interesting (and relevant) to look at while I wait for the bus?
3) As expected, there isn't much to see in the actual site except for some trenches and scaffolding. That's a bit of a letdown, but the guide Raquel really made up for it with her explanations and demonstrations. Kudos to her. The only silly part, in my opinion, was when we went into a small cave for a 3D video show. It really wasn't necessary. I got the feeling it was another useless splurge of money just to show how "hip and with the times" we are here in Spain...
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