Discover Cazorla: Spain’s Biggest National Park

I had heard several times that Cazorla was beautiful and full of nature but I had not really pencilled it in for a visit. I knew I would go one day but we were always saying “let’s wait for the spring so it’s not too cold or too hot.” 

As a push is sometimes needed, when some locals invited me to stay in Cazorla in April, I did a bit of Googling and was definitely up for the idea! The pictures looked lovely- lots and lots of greenery which can be a bit sparse in the drier regions of Spain. Here in Córdoba, we had endured 6 straight weeks of torrential rain which was becoming sooo tedious (not to mention the shoes and hairstyles it was ruining daily) despite the fact we can acknowledge how much rain is needed here sometimes.

It was touch and go for a while as to whether or not we would be rained in to the casa rural we would be hiring between the six of us and this would not have been so fun after the two and a half hour drive- I wanted to get out there and see it!

So, where exactly is Cazorla?

One of the many ‘cascadas’ (waterfalls) along the Río Borosa route

Cazorla is in the Jaén province of Andalucía. There is a city of this name and the Sierra nearby- the Sierra de Segura y Las Villas to give it its full title. It is actually quicker to drive here from Murcia’s airport than any airport in Andalucía! (2 hours as opposed to 3 from Málaga)

I won’t lie here- the 2.5 hour drive from Córdoba was not the smoothest of journeys in the literal sense; I was sitting in the back of the car and felt unusually motion-sick due to the curves and bumpy surface of the motorway there. My ears were popping a bit as the altitude increased but the dramatic views of the valley and mountains helped to stave these feelings off. A quick stop in the town centre to re-stabilise then we continued on to the local village of ‘Arroyo Frío’ where our accommodation was. The temperature was considerably colder up here so I was so glad to see a big open fireplace for later on. 

We stayed here at Apartamentos El Parral:

Apartamentos El Parral- Arroyo Frío- Sierra de Cazorla


Needless to say, I enjoyed a few glasses of red wine next to this!

What is there to do and see in Cazorla?

We were up early on the Saturday morning to take on the Río Borosa walking route. Instantly, you begin with your eyes wide open in awe the at the site of a couple of waterfalls (like in the picture further up) which I thought were particular landmarks or of special note. No. As we walked on, it soon became evident just how many waterfalls are constantly gushing around you, the ever-present thundering of water the soundtrack to the landscape.

Here is where all that rain we had comes in- the river was abundant in water, crashing and foaming along the banks and spilling out from every angle off cliff edges and across boulders and under chain bridges. 

Me smiling nervously on one of those chain bridges. “It is secure, isn’t it?”

The water is the attention grabber here so you almost miss the unique black markings of erosion etched across the high up rocks and cliffs and the unusual trees and flowers bordering the river bank. It is spectacular but I did pause to think at several moments how unfair the world is that here, there was water in copiousness however parts of the world remain dehydrated and in famine.

I thought of the people who have to walk for hours each day just to fill up a jug of water to bring back for dozens of people. If only vital resources were more evenly distributed.. 

It is the colour which is the most striking for me, the shallowness makes for a dreamy hazy greeny/blue which my eye is always drawn to! I’ll let this picture do the talking for a moment:

Greeny-blue waters in Cazorla

“It soon became evident just how many waterfalls are constantly gushing around you, the ever-present thundering of water the soundtrack to the landscape.”

We walked and walked for 8 hours (pedometer said 33,000 steps when we returned to the apartment) with inclines, declines and even 4 treks through caves where you are balancing along a narrow precipice, in the dark, with water either side which you could plunge into at any moment.

You have to walk in single-file, balancing one foot in front of another like a gymnast walking the beam, holding on to the cave roof above. I was cold, soaking wet and a little bit scared at these points but it was also comical, like, when did I think I would ever find myself in this type of situation?

This is the type of thinking which has got me through any difficult patch in moving abroad/ living abroad, as if you give in to stress and hardship, there really is nothing to be gained. Every strange situation makes a great story!

Water vaporising before it hits the ground

I had been hoping to see the wildlife here such as the baby wild boar, deer and foxes but they apparently only come out at night so… no such luck.

“The river was abundant in water, crashing and foaming along the banks and spilling out from every single angle off cliff edges and across boulders and under chain bridges.”

Recommendations for a Trip to Cazorla

I have never been one who knows how to dress for the great outdoors. Once, I went on a country walk through Delamere Forest in Cheshire, UK, with my dog in tow on his lead pulling me all over, in a pair of fashionable little ankle boots with NO grip to speak of whatsoever.

An old man I hollered over to ask for directions took one look at my footwear and with a chuckle said, “you’re gonna need something more appropriate than that!” but I was 23 and remained indignant- fashion over facility back then! 

In Cazorla, I wore a leotard tucked into a pair of yoga pants with a crop top over them both, with a padded sports jacket for any cold moments. One pair of running socks and an old pair of running shoes.

This wasn’t typical outdoorsy wear (still haven’t mastered the art, 7 years later) but it kept me warm and was functional. What I will say though is- bring spare socks and maybe even trousers for later on as your clothes will inevitably get wet no matter how much you try to dodge the water.

Bring food and drink with you as there are NO shops along the way. There is also no WI-FI, which is nice! Embrace it! I was with all-Spanish people so we did lunchtime the Spanish way- baguettes with pots of pre-blended tomato and chorizo or jamón along with some ‘patatas artesanales‘ (basically ready-salted crisps to you and me) and water. Very Spanish and very nice. 

Which is what I’d conclude for the whole trip!

Have YOU ever visited Cazorla? What did you think of it? Can you add to my suggestions?

I’d love to know what you think.

Leave your comments below! 

Laura x 




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