Alhama de Granada

We can never resist an open air hot spring within 50km of our route. The name of this town says it all, it’s Arabic for ‘water’.

We stop at a petrol station along the way, also refilling our tank with water. A man is curious to see our camper, so we invite him to have a look inside. Soon, our conversation gets transferred to the local tapas bar and we hear his story too – he’s a heart surgeon in Granada and he too loves to travel with a Campervan, although much shorter stints due to his working schedule. Last year he went to Tuscany with his family. He calls us Paco and Lora, so let’s call him Pepe. It is fascinating listening to his passionate account of operating, sometimes on beating hearts! During the stories we get plied with various delicious home-made tapas and are encouraged to sample the local honey.

Pepe tries to dissuade us from going to the open air hot spring in Alhama and suggests an indoor, natural cave. But for me, the whole attraction of the hot spring is that it is under an open sky…

 

We move on, up the hill through beautiful Olive and Almond groves. The light is stunning and we seem to be the only ones on this lovely, winding road. After about 1 hour we’ve covered the 22km and we enter Alhama de Granada from the north. After some enquiries from the locals and a kind English man doing an advanced recce returning with an ‘ok’, we venture with Emma into the gorge to where the hot spring is. A parking attendant in a high viz jacket and a peaked cap takes 3 Euros and tells us it’s ok to stay the night. We consider ourselves lucky until the real official comes and tells us under no circumstance can we stay here and there is no parking fee. Ah, well, we’ve been had…

The spring is not really recommendable, it feels like getting the leftovers from a party that happens elsewhere. The water comes out of a man-made chute below the spa hotel and it’s not really hot, just tepid. Nevertheless, we have a good time, chatting to people. I get my first good go at talking to some Moroccans. They have fun trying to understand my garbled Arabic. They laugh a lot and give me corrections and encouragement.

The next day, we are not tempted to go back down to the spa but instead, we go for a walk into the gorge upstream.

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It is impressive how the river has dug itself deep into the rock. This walk is well worth doing, despite the strong smell of sewage at its outset.

The second evening, we go to find the natural cave that Pepe recommended, but it is closed. There is a nice lake not far away where we find a spot to stay for the night. This is our vista the next morning:

 

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For more photos of this chapter click here


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