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Cueva del Gato, Benaoján, Ronda

The Cueva del Gato - the cat’s cave - is one of those paradisical river pools that you often find in the depths of the Andalusian countryside. Unlike so many other river pools, the access to Cueva del Gato is very straightforward. You can drive straight to the river and park alongside it. 

The amount of walking required is minimal. As such, it can get crowded in the summer months, particularly on weekends. 

The water is crystal clear, very clean and exceptionally cold. It makes a fantastic spot for a picnic and/or to cool off after a morning’s sightseeing in Ronda

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Serrania de Ronda

The Serrania de Ronda possesses one of the richest and most varied ecosystems in the region. 

There are three main natural reserves, Los Alcornocales, often referred to as Europe's last rainforest, La Sierra de las Nieves, a UNESCO Biosphere reserve and one of the last remaining habits of the Spanish fir, the Abies pinsapo tree and the Sierra de Grazalema, the region that receives the most rainfall in the whole of Spain. A fact that often comes as a surprise to many! A town in southernmost Spain receives more rainfall than anywhere else on the Peninsula. 

Needless to say, for nature lovers you couldn't hope for a more beautiful region. 

Cueva del Gato, Benaoján, Ronda

The Cueva del Gato is one of the most unique cave complexes in Andalusia. 

It has two entrances, one to the north in Hundidero and the other to the south in Cueva del Gato (cat's cave). The cat's cave supposedly takes its name from the cat-like appearance it has. The mouth of the cave is said to resemble a cat's face.  

The cave was formed through necessity. The Gaduares river is blocked by the Sierra del Algarrobo (the Algarrobo mountains), as a consequence the river was forced to carve away at the rocks to find an outlet for its waters. The resulting cave complex is nothing short of spectacular. 

The Cueva del Gato is 17m wide and 25m high, it provides a naturally hollowed out area, where the Gaduares river resurfaces and joins the Guadiaro river. The main passage is over 4km long. 

During drier seasons, there are 25 individual lakes within the cave complex. The longest of which is called the Cabo de las Tormentas (cape of thunderstorms) and is 114m long. The lakes can only be crossed by swimming. 

The cave runs for just over 8kms with 112m inclination between the entrances of the Hundidero and Gato. It is home to some unique and beautiful structures, such as the Sala de los Gours (Gours hill), the Gran Estalagmita (the great stalagmite) or the Cabo de las Tormentas - mentioned above. Other features of note, include the Plaza de Tores (the bullring) with a diameter of 50m and the Galeria de las Cabras (the goat’s passageway).

Visiting the cave requires expertise and the right equipment. Do not attempt entering the cave on your accord. This particular cave complex is extremely dangerous, it is very cold and prone to flash-flooding. Several people have done so, never to be seen of again. 

Use an professional tour company or for a safer overview of the complex visit the Centro de Interpretación Espeleológica, Montejaque(Montejaque’s speleology centre).

Getting there

The Cueva del Gato is situated approximately 2kms from the village of Benaoján - map

If coming from Ronda follow the signs for Seville. After approximately 5kms you'll see a signpost for Benaoján/Monteque, take a sharp left and follow this road. After another 6kms or so, keep your eyes open for a parking area on the right - see picture.

The turning is easy to miss. There's a small sign for the hotel/restaurant Cueva del Gato, but is not clearly visible if coming from the Ronda side. 

You can park at the top or drive further down, parking next to the hotel/restaurant. The restaurant is a good place to stop for lunch. The food is very good and responsibly priced. The portions are huge! for more information and prices - tel.952167296

For the more energetic, the hiking in this area is second to none. There's an easy and well marked route from the Cueva del Gato to Benaoján's train station (Estación de Benaoján) that runs parallel to the river - about 2kms. 

One walk that is highly recommended is the walk of Mr. Henderson's railway, a 9kms route that joins Benaoján Estación to Jimera de Libar. It is best undertaken in Autumn or Spring. 

For additional information on what to see and do in Ronda and for other recommended river pools in Andalusia

Two nearby villages that are definitely worth a visit are Zahara de la Sierra and Setenil de las Bodegas - a stop in Setenil is easily made if going back towards Malaga. All in all, a fantastic day out!

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