The south of Spain accommodates a large variety of ecosystems, which makes it one of the best destinations for true nature lovers of this country. One of the best locations to observe this variety is in the province of Jaén. Its large water streams, its unique topography and engineering have all come together to make this province the cistern of Andalusia.
Most of the dams in the province belong to or are attached to many of the natural areas of Jaén. In addition, these dams have the added touch of tranquillity, which gives them the character of a remote province away from the hubbub.
Long ago, there was a need for controlling water, which spurred the inventiveness for civilization to manage it. However, now is the moment to focus our energy on digging to discover unreachable spots and to feel nature in a different way.
There are 8 dams I would recommend for you to go kayaking in:
1. El Tranco
El Tranco is a dam with the function of a lake. It is a hidden treasure that surprises any traveller visiting Jaén. A treasure that offers an adventure or many of them: kayaking, boat rides, extreme swimming and trekking. There are multiple activities that you can perform in its 1,800 hectares.
From your kayak, the scenery surrounding the reservoir will provide you with serenity or surprise, adrenaline or tranquility. You can take a relaxing tour on a kayak, stroking gently to enjoy the sunset, or you can also set out to cross the entire dam, without giving up despite the efforts and choose to discover the most unknown spots. The emotions that you will feel will compensate your effort.
El Chorreon Route
If you are visiting El Tranco, this route is not just an alternative, it’s a must see.
If you decide to begin in the main pier, located near the dam wall, you’ll have to take the left route heading north. In this 8 kilometers route, you’ll be able to take a peek at the village of Hornos de Segura, an example of environmental management.
Continuing in that direction, the reservoir will begin to widen and on your left side you will find the stream of Montillana, the Parrizones and just a few meters later, around the corner, you can enjoy the waterfall of El Chorreón. Here you can visit the remains of ancient civilization, such as the thermal baths of a Roman villa. There are also some subterranean remnants in Vega de Hornos, where the village of Soto de Abajo remains under water and, occasionally, the bell tower of its church emerges.
Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente Route
Going South from the main pier, on your right, you’ll see where the Control Viejo and Solana de Padilla lookouts are located.
In this area of the dam, you will begin to border the big island of Cabeza de la Viña, which is located on the left side. From here, you’ll arrive to the area of Bujaraiza. Nowadays, by the remains of a medieval castle, it is the battlefield of the deer in autumn, during the rutting season. The area offers charm and nature in its pure state.
2. La Bolera
La Bolera is a small but intense dam. In its barely 6 kilometers of length, life swarms with the wildlife. In this area located in the Natural Park of Cazorla, Segura and Las Villas, otters and grebes fight for food.
The beauty of La Bolera invites you to ride across it in a canoe, from where you can take in two contrasting sceneries: the wooded forest and the desert. Clearings surrounded by pine forests, aridity and groves. If you wish to cool off after you’ve finished the route, there is a bathing area near the dam.
The contrast of the landscape is just one of the attractions that this reservoir offers. 7 kilometers away from Pozo Alcón, next to Quesada, you can gaze out at the amazing reservoir from its lookout.
Right where Arroyo de la Rambla flows its waters into the dam, there is a cave which is also named Arroyo de la Rambla. This cave gets flooded when the dam is full, but during the drought years, it can be a good option on where to begin speleology.
The dam of Jándula is a blue balcony with magnificent views of Sierra Morena. Its 20 kilometers of length, almost reaching the border of the province of Ciudad Real, offer spectacular landscapes covered in pine forests and meadows which are very well preserved.
To get there, take the road that goes up to the Santuario de la Virgen de la Cabeza from Andújar, up to the holiday resort of ”Los Pinos”. From this point, you’ll take the detour to your right and drive for about 15 kilometers. The route is very well indicated, so you won’t have any problems finding it.
Its waters will give you the chance to sail in one of the most unique areas of this Natural Park. This area is listed as a Starlight Tourist Destination, for the quality of its night skies, which makes it an ideal location for the observation of stars and astronomy. If you dare to go sailing at night, this would be the perfect place and occasion to do so.
Flora and wildlife are important aspects of this route. Animals like the Iberian wolf, cinereous vulture, Iberian imperial eagle and Iberian lynx are found all around this area. In addition, down in the southern area of the park, you’ll find the only population of the Spanish ibex in the entire Park. The griffon vulture nests in the northern area, around Puerto Alto and Puerto Bajo, as well as the nesting black storks are just a few amongst the many attractions found in the area.
The astonishing natural scenery and environment makes navigating the Jándula a unique experience. This journey is not exempt of any surprises, like the possibility of docking in the village of La Lancha, an uninhabited area where the church remains standing.
The Encinarejo, also located in Sierra de Andújar, is the smallest of the navigable dams in Jaén. This apprentice dam extends out about 5 kilometers, which makes it long enough for a pleasant ride in a canoe.
The best way to get there is by taking a dirt road trail, leaving from the right side of the highway that takes you to the Santuario de la Virgen de la Cabeza, right after crossing a bridge over the Jándula River. On the right side of the dam, there is a recreational area where you can park your car and embark on your kayak.
The dam is part of an area where the Iberian lynx, deer, wild boar and fox cohabit. It’s also not unusual to see the gray heron, black stork, cormorant, black vulture and the imperial eagle.
In the most northern area of this route, you will reach the Sardinillas River, one of the best preserved water streams in this area of Sierra Morena Oriental. This area is well known for its riverbank forests, which you can sail all the way down to its mouth. This area of Jándula River is one of the last refuges of the endemic fish of the Guadalquivir River called “bogardilla”.
Another activity you can do is a trekking route from the village of Encinarejo that will take you to the dam and, along the Jándula River, to the entrance of the Natural Park.
A seaport in Sierra Morena; this dam is near the town of Baños de la Encina, where you’ll find one of the best, well preserved castles in all of Spain, a national monument and a tourist attraction of the whole area.
The best option is to start sailing from Tamujoso beach in order to discover some amazing places that are practically inaccessible without a boat. Such as:
- The Murguigüelo’s and Retamón’s mouths or the Pinto River’s mouth (at 4 kilometers away from the main channel, on the longest stretch of the dam).
- The remains of the archeological site of Argaric period of Peñalosa, dating back to the Bronze Age (you can reach it from the north of the dam with a kayak).
Bear in mind that the edges of the dam are full of slates with sharp edges, making them uncomfortable to walk on. Overall, you can count on many great options around the area to go hiking. In conclusion, just make sure you pack your good pair of hiking boots.
7. Guadalén y Giribaile
Also located in Sierra Morena, in the Comarca del Condado, these dams are an alternative to go sailing when the weather does not allow to do so at mountain dams.
These two can be called treasure chest dams: in the bed of those dams, there are submerged authentic archaeological treasures. The only bridge built by one of the Renaissance geniuses, Andrés de Vandelvira, emerges over the Giribaile’s waters during periods of drought.
The Giribaile is surrounded by pasture lands, bulls, castles and by an ancient Iberian city, Orisia.
Their water has a lot to say. The Guadalen dam invites you to go sailing and wander along the shores.
Some people say that Atlantis is hiding under these waters and not under the sea as we had thought. Perhaps you could investigate while visiting the area.
3 arms of 8 kilometers each making up to twenty four. This is the available distance to navigate in this big dam embedded between Sierra Morena and Sierra de Segura.
The best way to access this is from the nautical club. And the best option is the arm that goes across Guadalmena River Valley.
This dam is one of the few dams of Jaén province where osprey can be seen during winter months. Pike fishing is very popular.
This “freshwater shark” was introduced to practice sport fishing.
That being said, choose a dam and bear in mind that to sail in any of these dams you need to apply for authorisation in the Confederación Hidrográfica del Guadalquivir.
Furthermore, it is advisable to follow some safety tips, so your adventure is a safe one.
A dam is a sea that has run a marathon. It is calm because it is tired. Whoever visits a dam is looking for rest after a stressful year. To some, this tourist destination is like finding their soulmate.
Don’t wait any longer, put your kayak on the roof rack of your car and experience this paradise.
Jot down what you see and keep me posted!