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River Genal

River Genal

Where today's Estepona to Algatocin road (MA-536) crosses the Genal River by the Puente de San Juan, you can find a popular roadside restaurant called Venta de San Juan and two campsites (one of which is called Camping Genal). As well as sampling the tasty fayre from the venta, you can swim in the river, take a riverside walk in the woods or, if equipped, try out the pastime of river walking or river trekking.

River walking or river trekking is the sport of pastime of walking up a river valley partly by river bank paths, partly by climbing over river bed boulders and partly by wading and swimming in the water. Specialist equipment is not required however you need to be prepared to become full immersed and wear suitable footwear and clothing. Some walk with a waterproof floating bag that can keep essential dry. Obviously this is an ideal sport for Andalucia in the summer where you will quickly dry out. River Chillar near Nerja is also a popular spot.        

Since the beach at Estepona is over an hour's drive from here, if you're in need of a cooling dip on a hot day, the river is a much easier and closer destination than taking take the winding mountain road. Also this is one of the few glimpses of this very secretive river and its hidden lemon and orange groves - "secret" because, unlike with other rivers, no roads follow the course of its valley so you can't easily spot its waters.

History

Overlooking the narrow bridge is Venta San Juan - the ford here, crossing the river Genal, was located on the only carriage route inland from both Jubrique and Genalguacil, so travelers going to Ronda and beyond had to pass. The venta is perfectly located at the river Genal ford where many would have stopped off for rest and refreshment.

The venta also acted as a semi-permanent Civil Guard checkpoint during the early Franco years, after the Civil War. Whether they came for a drink or to check what was crossing the bridge, the Guardia's presence helped to disrupt the movement of contraband. Being one of the few routes over the mountain, it was an easy check point.

Today

These days, you can cross the river using an ugly modern bridge, and the Venta San Juan, run since 2004 by Begonia Ruiz, specialises in barbeque meats and local produce. It is a very popular spot, especially at weekend or bank holidays. The cosy indoor dining room is supplemented by an outdoor covered terrace.

Arriving from Jubrique, you will see cars parked along the verge way before arriving at the bridge. As an alternative, the restaurant to Camping Genal across the river is quieter.

Other activities

Having had a stop at the Venta San Juan, the valley is worth exploring - during the summer, some of the riverbed is dry enough to walk along, both up and downstream.  The valley is full of medieval mills, which supported the many now-deserted villages on the Genal's banks, showing how large-scale agriculture flourished during the preceding centuries. 

One mill which can be reached without a river walk is located at the back of the camp site. The mill's name, Molino Alano, indicates its Moorish past the small Arroyo Algatocin fed the mill, before entering the main river.  

To the north, two mills can be found within a couple of kilometres. Both Molino de Enmedio and Molino de Piga are in various states of ruin, but have enough left to tell a story. A more impressive site is just over a kilometre south, at Molino los Cipreses, where the small millpond survives. From here, a short aqueduct would have transported the water to the mill, which is built above the flood plain - just high enough up to escape the heavy winter floodwaters. 

Walking here is popular and Stage 27 of the GR-249 La Gran Senda de Malaga passes the bridge.

Many blogs have been written about the walks both up and downstream from this point. Walking south along the river there are a number of walkways to help you avoid the deepest sections. In three to five hours you can cover the 5km as far as Prado de la Escribana, where there is vehicle access just below the village of Benarraba (off the A369). See Comando Preston's blog.

If you have five hours you can do the 12km walk, descending from Genalguacil down to the river and then walking upstream up to Venta San Juan. See Carlos and Petra's blog.

 

Camping Genal
Camping Genal

Located in deep in the Genal river valley between Jubrique and Algatocin. Secluded area very quiet and great for kids to play safely outside. Woodland location right beside the Genal river.

 

Booking.com

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