The Guadarranque River – el Rio Guadarranque

The Guadarranque is a short coastal river of Cádiz Province whose name is derived from the Arab wadi ramke, which translates into English as the “River of Mares” – it would be fascinating to find out why!

Situated entirely within the comarca (county) of Campo de Gibraltar, the river rises in the Monte de Castellar, a short way from the town of Castellar Viejo de la Frontera, then  flows for just 43 kilometres (27 miles) through the Alcornocales Natural Park before emptying into the Bay of Algeciras.

Along the way the river is dammed to form the Embalse de Guadarranque (Guadarranque Reservoir).

Embalse de Guadarranque viewed from Castellar

Having left the reservoir the river is allowed to follow its natural course and for a while at least it flows through a mixed woodland, where it is shaded by trees and shrubs, including Alders, Ash, White Poplars and Oleander.

Sendero de la Mariposa Monarca -Walk of the Monarch Butterfly

A walk has been designed that allows you to follow a stretch of the river closely along its bank for about 6km, which is lovely in itself, but which is further enhanced by the presence of glorious Monarch butterflies.

The walk runs between two ventas – Venta de la Jarandilla being closest to the reservoir end of the river and Venta de la Cantina. If you choose to start at la Jarandilla you will be walking downstream, with the river to your right and then obviously starting from la Cantina you’ll be walking upstream with the river to your left. Whichever way you choose to do it, there’s potential for having a coffee to get you going at the beginning and maybe lunch and/or a cold drink at the end. Unless it’s a Tuesday, in which case both places are closed all day.

Close to the Jarandilla end the path passes beneath huge pipelines high overhead carrying water away from the Reservoir.

Section of pipeline carrying water away from the Guadarranque reservoir

In the warmer, drier months, the river is calm and peaceful, varying much in its width, depth and speed of travel through this short section, but signs posted warning people not to use the path in the event of the river level rising and flooding indicate that its nature can quickly change when it rains.

Rio Guadarranque flowing through woodland

Besides the exotic Monarchs there is much native wildlife to see here within the woodland and out where the path occasionally takes you along the  more open woodland edge.  There are many impressive specimens of trees, a good variety of wildflowers, many species of birds, lizards, terrapins and insects. You may even get a glimpse of resident deer and although fenced out, there are wild boar in the area.

Striped-neck Terrapins