Canoeing through the Hoces del Duratón gorges



Just over an hour from Madrid, you’ll find a landscape that seems impossible: Hoces del Duratón. Navigating the tranquil waters of these narrow gorges, carved out by the river, is an unforgettable experience. Not only due to the outstanding beauty of the spot, but also to its ecological value, as one of Europe’s largest breeding areas for birds of prey.

Just an hour and twenty minutes from Madrid, the Hoces del Río Duratón Nature Reserve is in the province of Segovia. For thousands of years, the river has eroded a dramatic canyon, creating a unique setting of sharp bends, huge gullies and tall cliffs – reaching over 100 metres in some areas. The striking contrast between the ochre limestone and the green riverside woodland is just one of its beauties. And this space is also an important environmental reserve for birds of prey, and one of their largest European breeding areas. Let the calm waters of the Duratón guide you through this delightful adventure while you enjoy a natural paradise, full of magic and mystery.

The entrance to the Nature Reserve is in Sepúlveda, which can be reached by bus from Madrid or Segovia, all year round, from Monday to Saturday. Once there, your best bet is to go to the Tourist Office, where the staff can tell you which companies organise the boat tours, starting in the nearby village of Sebúlcor, where the navigable part of the river begins. This is 15 kilometres from Sepúlveda, but don’t worry if you don’t have your own car: you can phone the company and they will pick you up and take you to the starting point in Sebúlcor. After forming small groups and explaining how to handle the canoes, the monitors take you by car to the jetty, and the adventure begins.

The winding route is 25 kilometres long and takes about three and a half hours by canoe, with stops at the most interesting points, where the monitor will tell you about local history, legends and fun facts. The tranquil pace gives you plenty of time to admire the lush woodland, the spectacular rocky cliffs, the ruins of the 13th century Monastery of La Hoz, and the majestic flight of the birds of prey. Among the many species in the area, you may see griffon vultures, golden eagles or peregrine falcons.

After stopping to walk up to the 12th century Romanesque country chapel of San Frutos, the route continues back to the starting point, where the tour ends. A final tip: don’t forget to bring water to drink, a snack, comfortable clothes, and spare shoes and socks. In warm weather, bring a swimsuit, towel and T-shirt as well, in case you fancy a swim. This is a unique opportunity to experience nature close up, enjoying the great beauty and grandeur of this landscape.

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