Cascada de Orbaneja del Castillo (Cascada de las Merindades)

Valle de Sedano / Castilla y Leon Region, Burgos, Spain

About Cascada de Orbaneja del Castillo (Cascada de las Merindades)

Hiking Distance: roadside
Suggested Time:

Date first visited: 2015-06-13
Date last visited: 2015-06-13

Waterfall Latitude: 42.83424
Waterfall Longitude: -3.79349

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The Cascada de Orbaneja del Castillo (I’ve also seen it called Cascada de Merindades) was an example of how a waterfalling motive to visit a particular area could yield hidden surprises. In this instance, we were treated to an attractive waterfall tumbling through and below the town of Orbaneja del Castillo, which was near the border of the region of Castilla y Leon and Cantabria. Further adding to the atmosphere and enchantment were the cliffs and rock walls surrounding the town, where at least one of the formations atop the rock walls (overlooking the town and gorge below) contained an impressive natural arch. And by the way, the rural town itself was charming with its historical-looking stone buildings along with other incidental attractions that I’ll get into shortly.

The waterfall was essentially a roadside attraction. After parking the car in one of the pullouts just past the bridge fronting the waterfall (see directions below), we then walked along the road back towards the falls and immediately got the most contextual and impressive views of it from there. That said, we were also able to scramble closer to the base of the main cascading portion for a closer and more intimate look. The buildings perched amongst cliffs provided that unique backdrop where waterfall and civilization mixed (but not in a destructive way like what tends to happen around urban waterfalls). Moreover, we also scrambled further downstream from the bridge and saw other travertine cascades and pools that reminded us of a mini-Plitvice experience.

Orbaneja_del_Castillo_086_06132015 - Looking uphill from the center of the town of Orbaneja del Castillo
Looking uphill from the center of the town of Orbaneja del Castillo

The difficulty rating you see above pretty much reflected the roadside property of this waterfall. That’s because for all intents and purposes, the waterfalling portion of a visit here was essentially this falls and the cascades further below. However, since we were also interested in checking out the town as well as pursuing a better view of the natural arch along with the cliff formations above, we spent more time here than what was required just for the waterfalling aspect of the excursion. In order to do that, all we had to do was to walk up the steps alongside the main waterfall, which passed by an accommodation then some kind of valve or waterflow control contraption (implicating that the falls could be turned off), before we were deposited essentially in the center of the town of Orbaneja del Castillo.

Just upstream from the center of town, we saw a water cave that seemed worth visiting. But it wasn’t open during our visit. However, we did continue walking steeply up the town’s main road until we were able to look back over the tiled rooftops of the buildings of the town with the enchanting rock formations (as well as that natural arch) as the backdrop. It appeared that there was a trail that branched off this road that continued climbing higher up the neighboring cliffs, but we didn’t go there so we can’t say what’s up there nor what it’s like.

Overall, our visit here took nearly 90 minutes, but the waterfalling part of the visit could’ve easily taken less than 20 minutes. When we showed up in the morning at around 10:15am, it was pretty quiet. But when we returned, there were already some local tour groups along with several more families and individual visitors as well. So while going into our trip, we thought Orbanejo del Castillo might be a hidden secret, it wasn’t necessarily a “secret” to the Spanish or well-researched tourists in the know.

Perhaps the ideal visit here would be to linger as long as we did for the visit. But in addition to that, it would’ve been worthwhile to visit the Cueva del Agua (Water Cave) and maybe have a lunch here. The understated and non-commercial feel of this rural town certainly made it attractive to do so.

Orbaneja_del_Castillo_001_06132015 - This was the pullout that we stopped our rental car at. There were more parking spaces further along the road
Orbaneja_del_Castillo_014_06132015 - Looking right up at the impressive Cascada de Orbaneja del Castillo from the road bridge fronting it
Orbaneja_del_Castillo_219_06132015 - Before getting a closer look at the main waterfall just below the town of Orbaneja del Castillo, we spent some time going further downstream to check out some travertine pools and cascades
Orbaneja_del_Castillo_023_06132015 - Once we got towards the bottom of the descent, we got this look back upstream towards the context of all these mini cascades and pools seen together
Orbaneja_del_Castillo_029_06132015 - Looking towards the upper tiers of the cascades beneath the road bridge at Orbaneja del Castillo
Orbaneja_del_Castillo_034_06132015 - The clear blue pools beneath Orbaneja del Castillo reminded us a lot of places like the Plitvice Lakes in Croatia and Jiuzhaigou in China
Orbaneja_del_Castillo_045_06132015 - Waiting our turn for other tourists to finish their picture taking before it was our turn to get that family shot in front of the Cascada de Orbaneja del Castillo
Orbaneja_del_Castillo_058_06132015 - Looking up at the main drop of the Cascada de Orbaneja del Castillo from its base
Orbaneja_del_Castillo_069_06132015 - Once we had our fill of the Cascada de Orbaneja del Castillo, we then walked up these steps to get into the town
Orbaneja_del_Castillo_080_06132015 - Looking past a valve towards a canal passing between a few buildings of the Orbaneja del Castillo town
Orbaneja_del_Castillo_090_06132015 - Looking downstream towards the brink of the falls as we got closer to the center of Orbaneja del Castillo town
Orbaneja_del_Castillo_095_06132015 - Looking upstream towards the source of the stream and the cliffs backing the town of Orbaneja del Castillo
Orbaneja_del_Castillo_098_06132015 - Walking up the steep street as we pursued an overview of the town of Orbaneja del Castillo as well as the rock walls backing the town
Orbaneja_del_Castillo_110_06132015 - We first followed an ill-fated path that led us on some rock ledges that would ultimately dead-end where those people in front were.  At least it afforded us this view of the natural arch above town
Orbaneja_del_Castillo_111_06132015 - This was the ledge we walked on when we turned around and looked elsewhere for the sought-after overview
Orbaneja_del_Castillo_119_06132015 - Finally, we were able to get this view of Orbaneja del Castillo backed by the rock walls with that natural arch
Orbaneja_del_Castillo_186_06132015 - Julie and Tahia heading back into Orbaneja del Castillo
Orbaneja_del_Castillo_212_06132015 - As we walked downhill to the center of Orbaneja del Castillo, we started to notice more people, including this tour group
Orbaneja_del_Castillo_213_06132015 - Descending back down the steps to the Cascada de Orbaneja del Castillo
Orbaneja_del_Castillo_229_06132015 - Looking over the travertine pools towards the rock walls as we were returning to our parked car


While there may be many ways to reach Orbaneja del Castillo, we’ll just describe the way we came from the city of Burgos.

From Burgos, we drove north on the N-623 for about 60km. Then, we followed the sign and turned left onto the narrow CA-275 (formerly Bu-613) road, which continued for about 6km as we crossed the bridge fronting the Cascada de Orbaneja del Castillo. We pulled over at a pullout at a hairpin turn just beyond this bridge. There were more parking spaces further along the road. Overall, this drive took us about 70 minutes.

For some geographical context, Burgos was 185km (under 2 hours drive) east of León, 159km (over 1.5 hours drive) southwest of Bilbao, and 249km (2.5 hours drive) north of Madrid.

Checking out the clear Plitvice-like pools below the bridge as well as the lovely waterfall and village above the bridge

Checking out the falls right beneath the village from its base

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Tagged with: orbaneja del castillo, valle de sedano, castilla y leon, burgos, spain, waterfall, natural arch, cantabria, merindades, cueva del agua, puentedey

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Visitor Reviews of this Waterfall:

Cascada de Orbaneja (Spain) January 17, 2020 9:42 am by Jose Luis Sanchez Esteban - Some additional pictures with plentiful of water flowing. It was so much that not having a wide-angle lens it was not possible (or I didn't find the right place) to catch the whole waterfall in a single picture. ...Read More

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