Junta de los Rios
** While we highly recommend a day spent at the Junta de los Rios Waterfalls, please read all the information below very carefully. This is an adventure for fit individuals and can be a little too difficult for others.
** Trail at the top of the Gorge
Warning: Road access to the park can be a bit rough, but once inside, you are in for a real treat.
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About the Junta de los Rios
The Junta de los Rios park is 18 Km inland from the coastal town of Almuñécar. It is an absolutely gorgeous recreational area where the two rivers (Rio Verde and Rio Negro) come together to form hundreds of crystal-clear turquoise pools and waterfalls.
** Adventure groups and little children both enjoy jumping off the rocks!
This area was once reserved for high adrenalin sports groups that came for canyoning and repelling from the falls (barranquismo). While you will still see many of these companies operating in the area today, it has also become popular with families and day hikers.
** Adventure groups repelling from the falls
These adventure companies are still very popular and bring people into the Junta de los Rios on guided tours all the time. If you are worried about the drive in or just want to get even more active you can contact one of these local tour groups.
They provide all the necessary equipment and will take you to the top of the falls to repel and jump your way back down the river.
Hiking the Junta de los Rios
If you enjoy hiking, the Junta de los Rios Gorge is an amazing hike with fantastic scenery. Starting at the first of the turquoise pools, it will take you about 1.5 to 2 hours to reach the largest falls, that is if you don’t stop and enjoy the water along the way.
It usually takes us about 3 hours each way. We travel with our kids (and our dog) so we stop many times to swim, jump off the rocks and have snacks. You can easily spend the entire day hiking in and back out again.
Where to Begin...
To start the hike, make your way from the parking area to where the water begins (just follow the road). You will see the water below on your right-hand side. From there, cross through the water and you will see a path, follow the path up the hill. You will come to a small bridge made from cement cylinders, cross over it and head up the hill on the other side. This is where you will find the first larger pools.
To continue the hike, cross over the swinging bridge and start following the path up. From there you will follow the path for about 1-1.5 hours. There are two look-outs or miradors on the initial ascent.
** First swinging bridge
As for the hike itself, it is recommended that you are in fit condition and not afraid of heights.
The hike consists of:
- old swinging bridges,
- the first climb that switches back and forth for about 15-20 minutes, until you reach the first look-out
** View from the top, 1st look-out point below
- the descent back down into the gorge on a sometimes muddy and slippery path,
- wading across the river on slightly slippery rocks several times to meet up with the path on the opposite side,
- steep climbs up rocky staircases,
- and, generally climbing over rocks and roots or wading out into the water at the end to get to the waterfall.
Once you reach the falls, there are large rocks just in front where you can stop and relax, enjoy the breathtaking view and have a nice lunch or snack.
** Swimming and enjoying the waterfalls
What to bring to the Junta de los Rios
This is a pretty intense hike so it’s always best to be prepared. Having come so many times now, we have gotten this down to a science. This is what we recommend you bring:
If you are hiking to the Junta de los Rios Waterfalls:
- Backpack: I’ve noticed that a lot of people bring waterproof backpacks, but I don’t think that’s necessary. It is worth noting however that once you reach the falls you will have to cross through the water (waist deep for the adults) while holding your belongings up out of the water (not to get them soaked).
It IS important to have a backpack, and not carry items in your arms, because you will need your hands free during the hike.
- Shoes: This one is also important. The best thing to do is wear waterproof shoes. You cross through the water several times along the way and you don’t want to have to remove your shoes every time.
Most people just use an extra pair of sneakers, but plan to get them soaked.
You can also use the water shoes designed for the beach; however, these don’t offer as much support and don’t have thick enough soles. There are many rocks and loose pebbles on the trail, so these tend to be a bit less comfortable.
- Extra pair of shoes and socks: We bring an extra pair of dry shoes and socks and leave them in the car for afterwards.
- Extra pair of clothing: We also leave an extra pair of cloths IN THE CAR for when we are done. Plan to get completely soaked. I have packed extra clothes in my bag before, but they always seem to get wet.
- Water: Bring plenty of water. This is a long hike and there are parts (the first ascent) which get very hot, you will need to re-hydrate. We bring one large bottle per person (this is the heaviest item you will carry).
- Food and snacks: I always pack a lunch. This is an active day and you are going to get hungry, the kids especially. I always seem to underestimate how much time we will be spending at the waterfalls, but it’s so much fun, we usually stay all day. I also always pack plenty of high energy, easy (and light weight) snacks like peanuts, energy bars and fruit.
- Bathing suits: You will definitely want to swim!
- Towel: small and lightweight
- Camera or phone with a camera: You have to take photos while you are there, it is just stunning.
- Sunscreen: Lather up! Most of the pools are shaded but the sun can be very strong higher up on the trail.
If you are hiking to the first pools only:
If you are only hiking to the first large pools you can obviously bring much more with you. However, I will note that depending on where you park this could still be quite a ways (see parking distances below). Also, there is a small bridge to walk across (without railings) and a small climb.
** Climb up to the first large pools
Hiking the Junta de los Rios with Children
Both of my kids have been doing this hike for a couple of years now. My daughter, who is 8, has no problem, but has been hiking with us since she was very young. Some of the ascents can be tough for little kids, especially if they are not used to hiking. I really would not recommend the entire hike to kids under the age of 8, unless hiking is something they do a lot.
There are also swinging bridges along the way that can be scary. Some are missing boards and are very high up. My kids don’t have problems with these but please be very careful and stay close to your children.
** The children love jumping off the rocks!
If you have much younger kids, you can still have an amazing day by hiking into the area with the first large pools. There is only one small bridge (not hanging) to cross. This will only take you about 10 minutes, from where the water first begins.
Hiking the Junta de los Rios with Pets
I always bring my dog and he LOVES it. My warning to those with pets is, be aware that there are swinging bridges and some dogs will not cross these. Like I said above, some of the bridges are missing boards and are high up, this can be terrifying to dogs.
** Dog crossing the swinging bridge
When my dog was a puppy, I carried him across, but the bridges are swinging and you need to hold on, so this was not at all easy. Now he walks across, but I can’t guarantee that yours will too. In most places you can get your dog to go down into the river and back up the other side.
Also, your dog must be on a leash from the parking area until you get to where the water starts. This is a protected natural habitat with lots of mountain goats (Ibex) milling about, they do not want the dogs harassing the wildlife.
Getting to the Junta de los Rios
From the coastal town of Almunecar you take the A-4050 rural road about 30 minutes back into the tropical valley. Start at the roundabout near the McDonalds in town, cross over the N-340 coastal road and go in the opposite direction of town. Take a right where the road ends onto the A-4050 and follow the signs to the towns of Jete and Otivar.
I have marked on the map below the entrance to the Junta de los Rios. It is a turn-off on the left-hand side of the road about 10-15 minutes past the town of Otivar.
After passing through the main gate, you will take a slow, winding, dirt road down to the park. It is VERY bumpy in parts and narrow, A 4x4 is recommended. You will be ok in a regular car, just drive slowly. The trip down from the main gate takes about 25 minutes.
Warning: The drive down is a bit of a hair-raising drive. If you are not comfortable on old, narrow, Spanish back roads, this might not be the trip for you.
There are 3 different parking areas. We recommend that you get to the park as early as possible so you can park in the lot closest to where the trail starts. Walking times from each of the parking lots are:
- Closest (3rd parking area): 10-15 minutes
- 2nd parking area: 15–20 minutes
- 3rd parking area: 25-35 minutes
What is the entry fee for the Junta de los Rios:
For an entire day outing, the price isn’t bad. You will only pay 5.00 euros per person and 5.00 euros per car.
** One of the many smaller waterfalls
The park is open from Tuesday – Sunday, 10:00 am to 7:00 pm during the summer months.
It is important that you keep track of the time and allow yourself enough time to bet back out at the end of the day. The gates close at 7:00 on the dot (remember walking times to the parking area and roughly 25-30 minutes to drive back out).
Phone: 680493629 or 680493907, for further information.
After a long, tiring day at the Junta de los Rios, you may be ready for a great meal. If you are famished and ready to eat, we recommend the El Capricchio Restaurant in Otivar. It is a simple, rural restaurant but the staff are very friendly, and the food is great!
Carretera Del Suspiro, 18698 Otivar
Hours: 7AM - 11PM
Phone: 958 64 50 75
Where to find the Junta de los Rios