Andalucia Spain – 5 spots for a splash!

Cueva del Gato

With a total of 24 nature reserves the beauty and diversity of the landscapes around Andalucia create the perfect backdrop to some of the best wild swimming on the Iberian peninsula.

Despite the long hot summers Andalucia has countless natural water sources, and is dotted with lakes, rivers, waterfalls and reservoirs. In general the water quality is superb and the temperature can range from icy cold to pleasantly refreshing, providing a welcome respite from the heat of the Spanish sun.

There is now a new guidebook to wild swimming in Spain, but the following article was compiled by Melanie Templer who, together with her husband Tristram, runs a small travel company from their home in rural Wiltshire.

The 2´s Company Travel have around 50 gorgeous self-catering holiday properties around southern Spain. Having lived in Andalucia for 12 years they have a wealth of knowledge and experience, which ensures their clients enjoy in one week what they enjoyed over 10 years. This includes how to source some of the best regional produce, drink the finest local wines, find off-the-beaten-track gems and of course discover all the best wild swimming spots!

Cascadas de Hueznar

Situated in the beautiful and lesser known Sierra Norte (about 1 hour north of Seville) these waterfalls were declared a National Monument in 2001. The water tumbles down a series of small waterfalls creating enchanting pools between each fall. You can swim in all of these pools but be warned that the water is very cold and there is some current around the falls. You are well off the tourist trail here, even though access to the falls is remarkably easy. There are a set of steps running up the hillside with a number of small paths that lead off towards the falls so you can get a closer look. The biggest waterfall is at the top but watch your footing as it´s a long drop down!

To get there: 2km from the village of San Nicolas (where there is also a man-made beach and swimming in the lake) look for signs to “Area Recreativa El Martinete” where you will find a restaurant with parking. There is camping at San Nicolas and good food further down river at Batan de las Monjas, near the campsite.

Long/Lat: 37.992222°, -5.662778°

Cueva del Gato

An idyllic spot, just a few km from the town of Ronda. The water here is crystal clear and icy cold. Known as the Cueva del Gato (Cave of the Cat) as the entrance to the cave is supposed to resemble a cat´s face, the water shoots out from an underground cave complex stretching 8km back through the porous limestone rock. (If you do want to explore the caves you will need to go with a specialist company). Beside the pool is a glorious spot to picnic or swim and cool off after a morning in Ronda. The access is very easy and as a result it is a popular spot with the locals (who sadly don´t always remember to take their rubbish home.) It can get busy on the weekends but on many occasions we have had the place to ourselves. The nearest village is the station of Benaojan, 2km away, where there is a very good hotel/restaurant the Molino del Santo.

To get there: from Ronda take the road to Sevilla. Turn left towards Benaojan/Montejaque. After 6km turn right onto a track where you see a small sign for Hotel/Restaurant Cueva del Gato. Drive down and park at the hotel, then follow the wooden walkway acrooss the river to the pool.

Long/Lat: 36.719964000, -5.250165000

Embalse de Zahara de la Sierra

This is a huge resevoir just below the gorgeous white village of Zahara de la Sierra also in the Ronda highlands. This place was also a favourite of ours for many years – the colour of the water is an indescribable shade of greeny blue which many artists have struggled to capture on canvas. Over the warmer months the water is a gorgeous temperature, refreshing yet not too cold. There are petrified trees that you can swim out to and jump off the branches into the water, as well as a small island off shore. You can hire canoes from a local company Horizon, based in nearby Grazalema and enjoy delicious Indian/Spanish cuisine at the lovely hotel restaurant El Lago in Zahara de la Sierra.

To get there: from Ronda, take the Seville road. Just past the village of Montecorto look for signs to the left towards Zahara de la Sierra. Turn off the main road and then cross the bridge and follow this road as it winds around the lake.

Park at the km 8 sign then follow the short footpath down to the water.

Long/Lat: 36.845556, -5.380278

Junta de los Rios

Only to be attempted by the physically fit and adventurous! After a 14 km drive directly north of Almuñecar through the fertile Tropical Valley, the access once you leave the road is up a rough stretch of track for 6km. At this point you need to park and walk a further one hour over rocks, steep paths and across bridges. However if you are not daunted by this prospect there are few other places that can compete with the Junta de los Rios, or Joining of the Rivers. At this bucolic spot the Rio Verde meets the Rio Negro to form waterfalls and crystal clear swimming pools. A heavenly place to while away the day, but do remember to bring plenty of drinking water, and be advised there is no mobile reception due to the steep ravines.


To get there: from Almuñecar you head north and pass through Jete then Otivar. The entrance gate is on the left hand side, about 2km from Otivar. You will see a cabin (closed on Mondays) where you will need to pay 5€ per person and a further 5€ for the car (at the time of writing.) Follow this track for roughly 6km until you reach the mouth of the gorge, then park and walk. The river soon opens into some nice pools for bathing, though about an hour further up river you will come to larger and deeper pools.

Long/Lat of Otivar: 36.841289, -3.753666

Embalse de los Bermejales

Another huge and glorious reservoir, under an hour´s drive from the Costa Tropical and just 40 minutes south-west of Granada. With a whopping circumference of 28km this man-made lake is fringed with pine trees, with a majestic mountain back-drop. There are a number of points from where you can swim, although many families tend to head to the “beach” area near the campsite where there is a floating pontoon and a very laid back beach bar. The water quality is sublime, clear and warm and teeming with fish. This spot is very popular with families over the summer months and you can also rent canoes and pedalos from here. The nearest village is the delightful Alhama de Granada where you can find good tapas at Bar Tigres in the Plaza de la Constitucion.

Photograph: Digby Merry


The 2´s Company Travel have around 50 gorgeous self-catering holiday properties around southern Spain.

Photograph: Digby Merry

Click here to find out more about the new new guidebook to wild swimming in Spain.

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