The Fervenza do Ezaro (or Fervenza do Ézaro with the accent) was a pleasant waterfalling surprise for us as it was a high-volume waterfall set amidst a windswept rocky landscape all within close proximity to the Atlantic Ocean. As you can see from the photo at the top of this page that this 40m falls was performing quite well even as our visit occurred in early- to mid-June 2015. Plus, the contrasting rocky backdrop allowed us to even spot a seal on the other side of the river, which further added to the naturesque atmosphere that still remained here.
That said, it was hard to believe that as recently as 2010 and before, this waterfall was not allowed to flow unless there was an excess of waterflow on the Río Xallas. This was because a hydroelectric plant that was built in the middle of the 20th century pretty much cut off the flow of the falls. The river would only be released at specific times or for special occasions. And it wouldn't be until 2011 after pressure from environmental groups (like Rivers with Life among others) when the authorities decided to let the river run with "ecological flow" to at least allow wildlife to recover minimally. As a result, the falls was allowed to perform naturally again, but I'm sure this tug of war between development and environmentalism will persist as such pressures between profit and preservation are ever increasing.
Our visit to the Fervenza do Ezaro was a very simple affair. From a car park near the hydroelectric plant (see directions below), we merely walked along the river towards the facility. Then, the walkway continued around the building and some associated hydro contraptions before entering a boardwalk with a few miradores of the falls along the way. Eventually, the boardwalk would proceed past a "stage" area (where it seemed like there might have been performances or events catering to a small audience) where there were steps leading down to the rocky embankment opposite the large plunge pool of Fervenza do Ezaro. It was from here that we were able to capture the photo you see at the top of this page.
Given the high volume of the river's flow, it would be foolish to enter the water without the risk of being swept away or pulled in by the undertow. There were also frothing bubbles accumulating on the banks of the river, which led me to think that perhaps it might be a little on the polluted side since the hydro facility, boats, and possible waste from the neighboring town might conspire to keep the water from being as clear as it could be. Eventually, the Río Xallas would join the Atlantic Ocean as a small scale estuary, where we noticed there were calm beaches full of bright white sand that seemed very friendly for families under good weather. We certainly took advantage of it after our waterfalling visit.
Our visit only took about 50 minutes, but a large part of our visit was spent taking pictures. The walk itself was probably no more than 10 or 15 minutes in each direction.
There are many ways to get from Santiago de Compostela to Ézaro, but generally speaking there was a boring inland path and a more interesting coastal path. So to try to cover both methods, we'll describe our own driving route, which was somewhat of a loop path that started with the inland route and returned on the coastal route. By the way, you can easily do the drive in reverse if you don't like the order we did it or you could forsake one option in lieu of the other in both directions. The choice is really up to you.
From Santiago de Compostela, we drove west on the AG-56 / CG-1.5 autovía for roughly 32km. We left the autovía to go onto the AC-550 road due north for about 1.3km until we reached a fork with the AC-554 road. We followed the GPS, which had us go right to continue on the AC-550 road for another 3km going into the town of A Serra de Outes, where we then kept right to go onto the Cp-3404 road. We'd then follow the twisty and narrow Cp-3404 road for about 12km before turning left onto the AC-400 road at O Pino de Val.
The GPS had us take the relatively tame AC-400 road for another 9km due west before making us turn right onto another narrow road Estrada Paxareiras, which we'd take for the next 11.4km to the Mirador do Ézaro (note: the road underwent a series of name changes - Barrio Curro, Estrada Barrio Noveira, Estrada Barrio Fiero, Estrada de Santa Uxia a Fieiro, then finally CP-2308).
After descending CP-2308 from the mirador, at the bottom, we then turned left towards the hydroelectric plant. This was where we found public parking so we could walk the rest of the way to the falls. Overall, this drive took us roughly 90 minutes though I wondered whether the GPS suggestion was really valid at all.
Anyways, on the return drive, we merely followed the CP-2308 towards the ocean, then turned left onto the AC-550, which we would take all the way around the coast for about 57km (passing by attractive beaches and coastal towns like Carnota, Lira, and Muros among others along the way) before returning on the AG-56 / CG-1.5 autovía back to Santiago de Compostela. The return drive took us a solid 90 minutes though we took our time not passing slower drivers throughout the entire route.
Finally, for some geographical context, Santiago de Compostela was 74km (about an hour drive) south of A Coruña, 426km (over 4 hours drive) northwest of Salamanca, 607km (about 6 hours drive) northwest of Madrid, and 332km (3.5 hours drive) west of León.
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