Here, in the north of Extremadura, there are no beaches or seashores. However, nature has provided an unlimited number of natural swimming pools all over the north of Extremadura. One can travel across this region from swimming pool to swimming pool and from pond to pond, while enjoying a very natural summer. You will find a pool for every single taste. Some are almost hidden, on all out of the way places. While, other pools are located on popular and noisy sites with all kinds of amenities, such as snack bars right at the shore of the pool. Also, some are places that only the very adventurous will reach, with natural slides, waterfalls and ramps. These are true havens of peace. But all have in common that they are surrounded by natural beauty, which makes you think that you are bathing in paradise.
So many kilometers of river coasts, beautiful places, and the following list of “top ten” will create an itinerary of natural swimming pools, in the North of Extremadura, that should not be missed by any one during this summer. This can also be complemented with a gastronomical tour, visiting cultural and heritage sites. Also, the visitor may want to set his plan in accordance this the local festivities and events that take place during these months in the North of Extremadura. No doubt this will turn into a splendid vacation, from pond to pond and from sensations to sensations that will refresh your summer.
LOS PILONES (The Sinks) IN THE JERTE RIVER VALLEY
To immerse into the waters of these natural pools, created by the erosion of the river shore rocks turned into authentic Jacuzzis, is a real pleasure for the body and soul. The waters are wonderfully fresh and crystal clear. Los Pilones is located in the natural reserve called “Gargata de los Infiernos” (The Throat of Hell). This park also hides other remote sites, where you can enjoy solitary baths. However, it is advisable to visit these places this a guide, who are authentic “sherpas” of the Jerte River Valley. They are sites of worship for the lovers of nature, because of their great beauty. And can be reached by foot, or by horse back or with vehicles that are authorized by the tourism office, thus making them accessible to all ages. If you decide to go by foot, the walk is around six kilometers, though a rising wooded path that will take you about two hours to complete from the Tourist Center at Garganta de los Infiernos in Jerte. This beautiful place can also be reached through a different path, which comes from above. This path will guide visitors, directly to the Marmitas Gigantes (Giant Cooking Pots). It can be reached by a road turn-off between Cabezuela del Valle and Jerte, passing through a bridge that leads into an abandoned housing development. You have to leave your car at the entrance gate and walk through a forest of chestnut trees, which protect you from the sun and make your hike more enjoyable than through the rising path form the Los Pilones. In either of the chosen paths the final prize is superb.
EL NOGALÓN, AT JERTE
The Nogalón is the natural swimming pool of the town of Jerte. It has an easy access and is serviced by all kinds of amenities. But what makes this place unique is that once in the water, you will only be able to see nature, in the middle of the Valley of the River Jerte, with abundant vegetation and incredible scenery. With the streams of water falling on one side and the rolls of the river on the other side, children can spend a complete bathing day. The place provides a snack bar but also, has a furnished picnic area, shaded spots both on the sand and on the grass, a park full of swings and a parking lot near the entrance. To get to this park you will follow the N-110 road and turn off at an intersection near the tourist office of Jerte, and just follow the signs to Nogalón.
GARGANTA DE ALARDOS, IN MADRIGAL DE LA VERA
Here one can bathe under centuries of history. The Roman bridge, which is the symbol of this gorge, the Garganta de Alardos, has a magnificent view of the mountain range of Gredos. The gorge has pure and transparent waters, which form a number of small ponds and turn into improvised swimming pools for visitors to refresh themselves. This place is the natural entrance to Extremadura if you are coming from Avila, on your way to Madrigal, which is the last town in Caceres. To reach La Vera, you must traverse the whole county, which in itself is a wonderful escapade due to its unique offer in terms of culture, heritage, food and festivals. In addition, people will find beautiful landscapes and many attractive areas for swimming and bathing. Many celebrities have picked the Garganta de Alardos as their residence, due its proximity to Madrid and Avila. It also has a wide range of touristic lodgings and places that have been carefully designed for summer leisure. You can pack a lunch box, however, there is a great selection of places to dine and some are very close to the water and the parking lot.
GARGANTA DE CUARTOS, AT LOSAR DE LA VERA
The Vera offers visitors a multiplicity of ponds, one prettier than the other. And Garganta de Cuatros is a post -card location, specially if one takes the time to view from above and admire its very green water, that flow from Gredos. It is, together with the lake of Jaraiz, one of the most visited recreation place. Not only because of its beauty but also because it has an easy access from the north of Extremadura and good services for visitors such as eating and refreshment establishments, that are placed in excellent locations for the appreciation of magnificent views.
In addition to the views, we say that this is a post-card location, or now a selfie location, because its medieval bridge that crosses the gorge in the midst of exuberant vegetation. And because it is just a beautiful place to lay under the sun of top of its rocks, which are large granite formations that have been molded by the water, down the river in a place called solarium. One of the best known and attractive places in the Garganta de Cuatros and it can be reached by road EX203, exiting at Losar de La Vera. Also, an ideal place to finish your visit to the district of La Vera is with a visit to the Yuste Monastery, which has an import cultural heritage.
THE AVANT-GARDE DESCARGAMARIA SWIMMING POOL
There is a place in the Sierra de la Gata, a natural swimming pool, which is out of the ordinary. It is the avant-garde pool called Descargamaría, where the designer wanted to take advantage of the rugged terrain with the representations of orgies, made out of colored enameled ceramics. The result is an attractive project that combines an innovative design with great functionality. This project is product of the creativity of architect Tomás Vega Rocher and handcrafted by Andrés Amores. Together they designed a system for tiling called E-Corte , which consists of giving shape to the clay before baking and enameling. In fact, it is a system designed in Extremadura, which is ideal for covering large areas exposed to the weather with the possibilities of attractive designs, textures and colors.
This place is a real surprise in the midst of the Sierra de Gata, by river Árrago. It also displays a small waterfall which adds beauty to the enclave. The whole area is not very big but it is very attractive. It has areas of sand and grass, areas for children games, abundant vegetation and trees, bathrooms and snack bars. It is a very different place to enjoy a bath and rest, while you are visiting Robledillo de Gata, one of the most attractive towns of this district.
PERALES DEL PUERTO, AT THE SIERRA DE GATA
The Sierra de Gata houses an ample catalog of places to bathe, surrounded by lush vegetation, which is characteristic of this district. One of these places, right on the entrance of the region is Perales del Puerto, on the shore of river Acebo. There, you can also find the swimming pools of Acebo, Villasbuenas de Gata, with its Zen stones showing from the water, or the pool of Hoyos, located just three kilometers from Perales.
As you go down the steps, you will see a wide zone for bathing with a snack bar on terraces with a view to the river. There you can eat and refresh with a bath in the river. On the other bank there is a picnic area for people that prefer to bring their food from home. This place, which is the norm in the district, is surrounded by nature; but it is a place where you can order a refreshing drink, as if you were in a terrace overlooking the water. It is a highly recommended place even if you want to relax in the water for the siesta, or put you feet in the water or sing under the bridge that will add a special echo to your voice during a day with increased sensations, specially, if you continue exploring this beautiful region of the Sierra de Gata.
CASTILLO (Castle), AT LAS HURDES
Las Hurdes hides many and varied treasures for diving into the water. They are equipped with different degrees of amenities. However, at the farmstead of the Castillo the most important aspect is the locations. Starting with the road from Pinofranqueado, which is only nine kilometers away, the vegetation is abundant and marvelous, typical of this district and promises a dive into in paradise. And it is truly paradise if you look at the surrounding from the middle of the natural pool at the Castillo. This pond is in very good conditions, very comfortable and has an easy access. It is, no doubt, a spiritual retreat in the middle of a landscape of pine trees and slate stones, so typical of Las Hurdes.
CASAR DE PALOMERO, AT LAS HURDES
It is located in Las Hurdes but has the soul of the Tierras de Grandilla (Lands of Grandilla) you will find Casar de Palomero, where the Los Angeles river makes a beautiful haven with very tranquil waters, with out much current and an ample zone on the shore to be able to enjoy the day. It is a very simple area, but very welcoming. Also, welcoming are the owners of the snack bar located just across the bridge at your left hand, where it is really enjoyable to eat and you can also ask for a paella to be prepared specially by order. The owners are very attentive and have converted the place into a five star snack bar. This swimming pool is as authentic as the Hurdes, and worthy to immerse oneself, as part of the path of getting to know places like Meandro Melero at Riomalo, or trying the hurdana honey or going for a refreshing bath at the river park of Pinofranqueado, which has many snack bars on its banks.
CASAS DEL MONTE, IN AMBROZ
Probably the coldest water in the north of Extremadura. The place called La Fábrica is a real pleasure to the senses, in the midst of nature, with spaces that are well differentiated from each other, for immersing in the water, for laying in the sun or in the shadows, or dinning comfortably at the snack bars, which are located just passing the gangway next to the river bank. This is a space that has been perfectly adapted for the use of the public and visitors, while keeping to the natural beauty on the swimming pool. This is the proposal of the Valle de Ambroz for enjoying a quick swim. After, we recommend visiting Hervás, and getting lost along its medieval streets: this can be turned into an enchanting cultural visit, both from a historical and culinary standpoint. If your visit is during the month of July, it will be complemented with the celebration of the Conversos.
LA GRANJA, AT TIERRAS DE GRANADILLA
This is one of the last swimming pools to engage into the summer offer of the north of Extremadura. Located at the Tierras de Granadilla, but with the spirit of the Valle de Ambroz, that shares the river with the pool of Abadia, which is close to this location. This is one of the newest pools and it is endowed with services for the visitor. It is a place enjoyable to spend a short escapade or for a refreshing moment or halt on your visit of the Valle de Ambroz.
Original article by Merche R. Rey
Translated by Susana Windt