Friday, August 5, 2016

Photo Post: Watching the Ézaro Waterfall Empty Into the Ocean

Ézaro Waterfall, Spain
Ézaro waterfall
Northwest Spain continues to amaze me the more I learn about it. You’d think it’d be hard to top a region that happens to have coastal islands with pristine white-sands beaches, one of the most beautiful historic town centers in Europe, or the only city that is still completely enclosed by its original Roman walls. But Galicia’s got yet another stunning treasure: the only river in continental Europe that empties into the sea via a waterfall.

Ézaro Waterfall, Spain
On the boardwalk
The Xallas River pours down the glossy hillside of Mt. Pindo, having trickled out of a dam that’s been generating hydroelectric power since the ‘60s. When friends both Galician and expat alike raved to me about the Ézaro Waterfall—pronounced “EH-thah-row” [ˈe.θa.ɾo]—I always imagined a river rushing over something like the White Cliffs of Dover before dramatically crashing into the ocean. The real thing is a lot more subdued, as the river merely rolls down an eroded hillside into a tiny estuary before it reaches the open seas. But knowing that there’s nothing like this anywhere else in Europe makes the Ézaro a special place indeed.

Ézaro Waterfall, Spain
Flowers above the falls
This waterfall is just a hop, skip, and a jump from the popular pilgrimage site of Fisterra (“the End of the World” on the Camino de Santiago), so it’s understandably mobbed by tourists daytripping from Santiago de Compostela in charter buses on their way to see the cliff-bound lighthouse. To escape the crowds, it’s best to drive up, up, and away from the parking lot to the miradoiro or lookout point within eyeshot of the dam. The lookout point gives you some perspective on the whole lay of the land as Galicia’s rugged granite terrain gives way to the infinite Atlantic Ocean.

Ézaro Waterfall, Spain
Looking out toward the dam

How to get there

Monbus runs several daily buses between Santiago de Compostela and coastal Fisterra, stopping at the village of Ézaro along the way. This bus stop is only about a 15-minute walk from the waterfall viewpoint, so it’s definitely something to consider if you don’t have a car. But I’d recommend saving yourself from the inevitable carsickness you’ll get from the two-hour, winding bus ride and just driving here, especially since with a car you’ll be able to drive up the hillside to the lookout point.

Ézaro Waterfall, Spain
Views from above the falls
Do you know of any other places on the planet where a river empties into the ocean via a waterfall? I’d love to know, so share tips below in the comments section!

For more pictures, check out my album on Flickr.
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