La Fuente de Los Baños

Waterfall at Paraje Natural del Salto de la Novia

While I had been sitting at the airport in Lisbon, Portugal, waiting for my flight to Valencia, I decided to see if there were any little day trip options out of Valencia.  My two little day trips out of Lisbon, one to Cascais, the other to explore Sintra had both gone extremely well and I had enjoyed getting out of the city.  I was curious to see if I could see more than just Valencia while there.  I quickly found a TripAdvisor link discussing a trip out to a hot springs fed river, and a huge bridal veil waterfall.  It had great reviews, so I bookmarked it for later.  By the time I reached the apartment in Valencia, I was soaked in sweat (I was silly enough to have worn jeans since Lisbon wasn’t too hot).  Feeling oh so hot, it wasn’t a hard decision to decide to book that day trip to go swim in a river!!  I emailed Do! Valencia to see if they had any openings.  They quickly responded and I was booked for the next day!  They advertise that they will pick you up at your hotel, but since I was not at a traditional hotel, and kind of out of the way in the heart of the old city, they asked if I could meet them by the bull fighting stadium/McDonalds, apparently they were picking up another couple there as well.  It wasn’t too long of a walk, so I agreed, and was waiting there the next morning.  They picked us up in a little bus of sorts, with enough seating for the approximate 12 of us, plus our tour guide and driver.  The tour guide was extremely friendly and talked to us about the area as we left the city of Valencia behind us.

The swimming pool at Paraje Natural del Salto de la NoviaAfter maybe a good hour or more of driving (I honestly can’t remember how long, but it was a bit), we arrived at our first stop.  Some members of the group had not brought anything to drink with them, so our guide walked them down the road to a bar where they were able to buy bottled water.  Once they were appeased, we started down a long downhill road, eventually reaching the bottom of the gorge.  A small river ran along the bottom, which we followed until we reached a wider, deeper area of it.  Over this, a tall waterfall poured down from the top of the cliff, forming the typical “bridal veil” waterfall.  It was absolutely beautiful against the reddish colored rock of the cliffs.  We spent maybe an hour here, taking turns going and standing underneath the falls for pictures.  That water was freezing cold!!  While quite a few of us went swimming in the river.  One piece of advice, wear your swimsuit when you start this trip.  Several people didn’t swim because they didn’t have them on and there was nowhere to change.  Or you can be like others, and change behind a towel being held up for you by a buddy…  The river was somewhat deep, enough for us to jump into, but shallow enough for me to give my foot a nice scrape on the bottom!  But then again, I am always being clumsy and hurting myself, so that was probably just me being me…

Waterfall at Paraje Natural del Salto de la NoviaJust upstream of the pool we were swimming in at the base of the waterfall is a little series of rapids through some large boulders.  I watched the local children swimming in there.  They would climb up over the boulders, get in the pool above the rapid, and then allow themselves to get pulled down through it and shot out into our pool.  They seemed to be having so much fun, I couldn’t resist.  I climbed the rock and slid down the other side of it into the upper pool.  As I got closer to the rapid, I could feel it start to pull at me, and then… whoosh!  It pulled me over and down it so quickly, it was so much fun!  Kids always know what’s the most fun, don’t they?  While walking back up the road in the heat of the day, our guide took us off the road, down some steps.  There was a long fountain with a row of lion heads each pouring out water.  He told us this is how the locals used to, and still do, get fresh water, and that this water was indeed drinkable.  We all filled our water bottles here before continuing back up the hill.  That water was wonderfully fresh and cold!

Rural drinking water fountainOnce we were back in the bus, it was another period of driving, although shorter than the first, to our next destination, La Fuente de Los Baños.  This is the river that is fed with hot springs.  Fair warning, they’re not “hot.”  They’re warm.  I heard multiple complaints from the individuals in the group that it wasn’t hot…  Seriously?  Do you really want to swim in a hot river in the middle of HOT Spain?  I personally liked the temperature of the water.  It was just right to be not too hot, and yet cool enough to still feel much better than the air did!  And the blue color of the water was so absolutely beautiful!  Not to mention how clear it was as well.  And nestled between the two sheer walls of the gorge…  Gorgeous.  We ate lunch before swimming at a little restaurant there by the water.  The lady working in there speaks no English, so thankfully our guide could translate for us.  We all had our sandwiches, and then those who needed to change, did so in the bathroom there (bring toilet paper with you, there wasn’t any in there).  Then we all stashed our stuff in the back of the little food stand and went down to the shore.

La Fuente de Los BañosWe swam up between the walls of the gorge, stopping to look at a little cave that went back in (I mean it when I say little).  He took us out of the river, back behind some trees and vegetation to see one of the hot springs.  It was a tiny little trickle of hot water coming out of the cliff side.  Pretty and interesting, but really nothing super special.  Back in the river, we kept swimming up it, to a part where it was so shallow that you kind of just had to float and pull yourself over the large, smooth rocks on the bottom.  Or attempt to walk and keep slipping and sliding…  Floating was far easier.  Once past this point, we came into a very deep pool.  There were locals here who were climbing up a little path up the cliff, to a spot maybe 12-15 feet over the water (I’m a horrible judge of measurements, so don’t hold me accountable to that!), from which they jumped off into the pool below!  Immediately the guys in the group went straight to the cliff side and started climbing up.  I paused for a moment, watching people jump, and then decided that I was not going to miss out on this, having never done it before.

La Fuente de Los BañosI am not afraid of heights.  I can stand in tall places and look down with no fear.  However, that sensation of falling scares the hell out of me!  Trust falls?  No way I am ever doing that one!  For me, this was a chance to try and conquer that fear.  I handed my camera to our guide (thankfully I had purchased a waterproof little digital camera prior to my trip, so I had that along for the trek), and climbed the cliff side.  When it was my turn, I walked to the edge, plugged my nose (yes, I have to do that), and looked down…

Swimming in La Fuente de Los Baños!

I froze.  I just stared down and panicked.  The water that I had previously thought so beautifully clear was now my biggest enemy.  You could tell there was water there, but you couldn’t tell how far down it was.  Instead, you could see all the way straight to the rocky bottom, which looked sooooo far down!!!  My companions for the day shouted some encouragements, but futilely.  I couldn’t do it.

La Fuente de Los BañosI stepped back to let the next person go, aware I was holding up the line.  I watched a young, heavyset boy, probably ten or so, walk up and just step right off the cliff, no hesitation what so ever.  I took a deep breath, and told myself, if that KID can do it, THEN I CAN DO IT!  I stepped back up to the cliff edge, plugged my nose, looked down, took a deep breath, then another, and maybe one more.  I counted down from 3, and then I stepped forward…

The bottom of the river in one spotAnd plunged into the river below!  Exhilarating!!!  I hit the water with quite a lot of force, more than I expected for that little bit of height.  The guide had told us to just step off and not jump, I assume to help lessen that force?  He had also advised me to hold my hands against my chest to keep my swimsuit in place.  A very necessary piece of advise, do mind that ladies!  It was a lot of force and your swimsuit is no match for it without your hands!  Regardless, I was so excited to have finally done that, especially after how scared I got once I got up there.  That fear of the sensation of falling… is something else!  I think it was worse too because I couldn’t just jump off, I had to step and fall…

The reservoirAfter the guys got to jump off a bit (I only did it once and I was the only female to do so), we started heading back.  The return trip was slow, meandering, each person/group going at their own pace, exploring wherever they wanted.  It was such a beautiful, relaxing place.  I loved it there and highly recommend this trip, just for this one portion of it.  After maybe an hour or so of being lazy and playing in the water, we all changed to dry clothes and piled back in the bus.

The reservoir's "pony tail" jet They took us next to see a large damn and reservoir that was absolutely gorgeous and also to see where the water from the damn came out.  It apparently, if I remember it all correctly, goes through a series of pipes that add oxygen to it (somehow, I don’t know) and increases the speed and pressure of the water.  Eventually, the pipe surfaces in the side of a cliff far below the reservoir and the water comes rocketing out of it, making this huge plume of water.  It was quite neat to see the raw power of it, the beauty of it in its settings, and the little rainbow it made further down the plume of water.

The reservoir's "pony tail" jet All in all, this was a fabulous trip to get out of Valencia and see the countryside and mountains of Spain!  I can’t recommend this enough.  And, as a reminder if you’ve forgotten, or are just joining me, I was traveling by myself.  This day trip didn’t make me feel awkward at all, in fact, everyone on the trip was very friendly and social with me, and the young females had lots of questions about me traveling on my own…  I even left that trip with a new friend from the Netherlands, that who knows, maybe I can visit her there sometime.  After all, I do still need to visit that country…  If you’re interested in trying this day trip, click here for their page!

Standing in front of the reservoir's "pony tail" jet

Advertisements

2 comments

  1. I’ve never been to this part of Valencia…looks amazing.

    1. It was absolutely beautiful! I had such a great time and was so glad I found that tour group and got to experience a different side of Spain!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: