Canales de Padules: a freshwater paradise
Don’t be fooled into believing Almeria is dry and barren. In fact, it boasts several oases, including the paradisiacal Canales de Padules. The Andarax River pierces the municipality of Padules from the easternmost slopes of Sierra Nevada; the pristine mountain water forms into natural pools as it flows through gorges and down waterfalls. This verdant haven is nestled in what is famously known as the Almerian Alpujarra and not very far from the historic, white-washed village of Laujar de Andarax.
This secluded section of the Andarax River is an extraordinary geological revelation: the river’s pure water flows through a deep gorge, flanked by lush vegetation. So stunning is this unique natural enclave that it was declared a Natural Monument by the Government of Andalusia.
Read on to discover all the secrets of this tucked-away natural treasure – including the top spots for a refreshing dip.
What are the Canales de Padules?
Canales de Padules is a natural enclave that has been carved out of the rock by the waters of the Andarax River. Mother Nature’s handiwork is a stunning 2-kilometre long gorge that separates Sierra Nevada and Sierra de Gádor.
The best way to access this secluded area, located just 3 km south of the village of Padules, is by driving up to the top part of the ridge where you can leave your vehicle.
Andarax River isn’t a gushing, wide-flowing river. In fact, barely any water reaches the city of Almeria. The channels may be located near the river mouth but the water is hardly ever more than a metre deep.
In any event, the shallow waters won’t stop you from getting wet when exploring Canales de Padules. Some of parts are so tightly bounded by hair-raisingly high rock walls that the only way of continuing on is by wading up or down river. Be sure to dress for the occasion! Shorts and water shoes are the most comfortable and appropriate for this outdoor adventure. The gorge is mainly made up of gravel and pebbles.
The vibrancy of the lush vegetation contrasts sharply against the stark, burnished crags flanking the riverbed. Forests of poplars, Spanish Broom, ash trees, weeping willows, blackberry bushes, water willows, rushes and many other types of flora give refuge to trout, frogs and fairylike dragon flies.
Barceló Cabo de Gata
- At the entrance to a Natural Park
- Ideal facilities for families
- Active tourism
Discovering Canales de Padules
If you are contemplating a hike through this little enclave with your children, bear in mind the uneven terrain is less than ideal for children under the age of 6 or people with reduced mobility.
The PR A360 is the beautiful hiking trail that connects Almócita, Los Canales, Padules and Beires. Start at the base of Garganta de los Canjorros to begin the uphill 2-kilometre trek that takes approximately 3.5 hours. You’ll be able to say you walked between two mountain chains: Sierra Nevada and Sierra de Gádor. The gorge is so narrow you can spread your arms in a T and run your hands along the rocky walls.
Over the years, mini natural pools were built along the river with boulders since the river runs quite low at times during the year. Don´t hesitate to jump in to enjoy the refreshing river water! There is also a wonderful snack bar, Molino de la Abuela, situated in an idyllic recreation area. This establishment serves up cold drinks and scrumptious, home-cooked food – all at affordable prices.
Outdoor sports in Canales de Padules
Walking upriver is not the only adventure sport you can try while in Canales de Padules. Rock climbing is especially popular for the amazing rock façades this area boasts. Beginners and more experienced climbers can enjoy this thrilling sport. Abseiling is another great activity; there is no better way to discover the depths of the crevasses.
The town councile of Padules and the regional government of Almeria offer guided tours and accredited guides for all the adventure sports available in Canales. It is always better to be safe than sorry when venturing out in new terrain in the outback or undertaking adventure sports for the first time.
Hiking beyond Canales
If you’ve still got juice in your legs, the hiking trail continues upriver but on dry ground. Head towards Almócita on PR A-360. Along the way, you’ll notice how the riverbed becomes wider; you are now hiking through another ravine, Barranco del Bosque.
In Almócita, you have the option of continuing the hike through the Barranco de la Portada to the small village of Beires and on to the last ravine of the hike, Barranco de Nacimiento. At the end lies a lovely recreation area where you can take a well-deserved break before starting the hike back.
Who put Canales de Padules on the map?
For many years Canales de Padules was completely off the beaten track and virtually unknown to most. However, that all changed in 2014 when the tourism board of Almeria launched a promotional campaign featuring David Bisbal, a native of Almeria and acclaimed Grammy-winning songwriter and singer. Canales appears at the very beginning of the promo video, revealing its splendid beauty to the world, and from that day on Canales was no longer Almeria’s best-kept secret.
However, David Bisbal played an even bigger promotional stunt when he uploaded a story on Instagram showing him jumping into one of the natural pools in Canales de Padules. Thanks to his 3.6 million followers, the tiny natural enclave gained even more traction.
Information of interest
How to reach Canales de Padules
By car: The village of Padules is a 50-minute drive from (55 km) from the city of Almeria. Take the A-7 towards Huércal de Almería, followed by the N-340a towards Benahadux. Hop on the A-348 and drive 35 km to reach Padules.
By bus: You can reach Padules by taking a bus from the city of Almeria. The line is operated by Alsa and the most direct journey takes approx. 1.5 hours.
Visit the official website of the Padules Town Council to plan your trip to Canales de Padules (Spanish only).