The Fervenza do Toxa was our first taste of waterfalling in the lush Galicia Region of Spain in the country’s northwest. The thing that really stood out to us about this excursion was that there were ferns growing alongside the trail (a sure sign of a high rainfall area) and there was a higher degree of mugginess as well. In fact, I had read that this part of Spain was similar to the Pacific Northwest in the USA in that one could expect cooler, mistier, and changeable weather with high rainfall and plenty of temperate rainforest-type vegetation that one would typically associate with places like the Olympic Peninsula in Washington.
So add to that environment this impressive 60m waterfall (in which the photos really don’t do it justice because it’s HUGE), and we had ourselves a peaceful yet memorable experience that was quite different from all the other waterfalling experiences in Spain to this point. Not only was this waterfall tall, but it had fairly high volume, when we had started to get conditioned to lower-than-average-flow from many of the other waterfalls in Spain during our 2015 visit. It was just too bad that we were kind of looking against the sun so we were taking photos in suboptimal lighting conditions.
We accessed this waterfall from a steep unpaved road (see directions below) where we didn’t feel confident enough to drive a low-clearance passenger vehicle past a few crater-like ruts in one particular switchback. So that probably added another kilometer or so of hiking in each direction. This road was flanked by what appeared to be a ditch or water channel before we eventually got far enough down the road to reach the signage and vehicular barricade marking the official start to the trail for Fervenza do Toxa.
Then, we continued descending on a fern-fringed walkway with glimpses of some nearby towns in the distance beneath power lines before the trail steepened a bit more towards the bottom where there were steps. Given the humidity during our visit, we knew it would be a pretty sticky hike back up. Nevertheless, at the bottom of the descent, there were stone picnic tables in view of the top part of the Fervenza do Toxa Waterfall, and then the footpath pretty much ended right at the base of the falls. Actually, it was hard to tell where the footpath ended and where the waterfall’s plunge pool began because parts of that footpath was inundated with water during our visit.
The refreshing spray from the waterfall was a welcome relief to the heat and humidity during our visit. It also rejuvenated us for the sweaty hike back up to our car. Overall, we had spent a little over an hour away from the car, but again, some of that time was spent walking a little farther than what the authorities probably wanted us to do.
Finally, one thing I noticed about the name Fervenza do Toxa was that it was not Spanish. Actually, it’s Galician (or Gallego), which appeared to be a hybrid language between Portugese and Spanish. In fact, many of the signs as well as restaurant menus in this part of Spain were in Gallego. A few things that I picked up while touring this region was that the el and la in Spanish became o and a in Gallego, and the word saída was Gallego for the Spanish word salida or “exit”. Also the word fervenza meant “waterfall” in Gallego.
Since Santiago de Compostela was the nearest city of note, we’ll describe the driving directions from Santiago de Compostela even though we actually came to Fervenza do Toxa as part of a very long drive from Salamanca to Santiago de Compostela.
So from Santiago de Compostela, we’d take the AP-53 (a toll autovía) for about 25km south to exit 24 to Barrio a Brea. The offramp and connecting road would eventually take us to the N-525 road (at about 1.6km), where we would then turn right onto the N-525 road. We would continue on the N-525 road for another 2.8km into the town of Bandeira, where we would then turn left at the traffic light onto the PO-204 road.
Next, we followed the PO-204 road for another 3.2km until a sign directed us to turn right onto the narrow Estación Bandeira road, which seemed to flank a railroad (or one that was under construction). After another 850m or so, the sign then directed us to turn left onto Barrio Ansemil. After 500m, the signs then had us turn right to descend the unpaved switchback road that ultimately led us to the point where we couldn’t proceed any further.
Technically speaking, we should’ve kept powering through the deep-cratered ruts, which not only would’ve descended to the official trailhead, but we could’ve also followed the “saída” sign back up to the original turnoff on Barrio Ansemil thereby forming a loop. This drive took us about 45 minutes, but a large chunk of that time was spent navigating the city streets of Santiago de Compostela to reach the autovías.
Finally, if you don’t want to pay the toll on the AP-53, it was possible to just drive directly on the N-525 road from Santiago de Compostela to Bandeira. Moreover, if you’re headed north (like we were) on the AP-53, we had the choice of leaving the AP-53 at exit 33 towards Silleda or taking the exit 24 further north. Exit 33 made us take the PO-205 road to the N-525 road through Silleda, then we took this road all the way to Bandeira. Exit 24 would take us to the same directions as given above.
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