El Portillo Reservoir Castril, Granada
El Portillo is one of three reservoirs lined up in the north of the Altiplano, west of Embalse de San Clemente El Portillo is located near the scenic town of Castril which is famous for its gorge walk, in this post however we will be looking away from the tourist hot spots and taking a short overland drive around the reservoir.
Our route took us along the A326 where you hang a right sign posted ‘area recreativa fuentes de tubos’, this road gets you onto the East side of the water.
The East side of the reservoir involves driving through the outskirts of the village for around 1/2 mile before you emerge into the woodland and onto the mountain track, the road is rough in places but by no means challenging, various stop off points can be found overlooking the water with information on the area and great photo opportunities.
Driving on you will pass the aforementioned recreation area [we did not stop] and further up towards the top end of the reservoir. It is worth noting that if you continue to drive then you will end up at a dead end which resembles a car park next to a cortijo, this point has various hiking routes but for the vehicle it is the end of the road.
For exploring tracks around the lake there is one switch back which is easily missed – this road is just before sign posted hiking route called ‘Sendero Cerrada de Lezar’, if you reach this then you need to turn around and take the first track on the right.
Stopping by the River
The drive on this side of the water actually takes you along the river, there are a few places where you can get a 4×4 down to the water’s edge, flat areas with quite a few shaded spots if you scout around a little bit. It is a good idea to stop somewhere along the river simply to take in where you are with forest and rock face surrounding you it is Mother Nature showing off a little…
Coordinates for town road to the East side of El Portillo Reservoir Castril
El Portillo [West]
Crossing over to the west side of the water is where things become a little more interesting for the overlander, remember that this is just a short route but once you begin to gain altitude you will find yourself on dirt track, single file winding road. There are passing places, no barriers and sheer drops so you’ll need to keep your wits about you, not much site seeing for the driver unless you stop.
On this side the views are spectacular and once at the top there are numerous opportunities to stop, set up and cook lunch. Once out of the woodland the area is exposed so an awning [if you have one] is a good idea.
The track on this side of the reservoir is simple enough – just follow your nose and eventually it will bring you out onto the A326 on the other side of Castril, all of a sudden you will be out of woodland and in the middle of olive groves. [Turn left to head back to Castril]
What we learned
Castril has a reputation for being one of the most picturesque villages in the area and as such it is popular with both tourists and locals. The big attractions besides from the views are the water, nature and location, you will also find three campsites in the immediate vicinity making the area a magnet for campers and hikers.
The west side of the reservoir is far more suited to the overlander with less tourists and more challenging road however it makes little difference which side you are on as far as scenery is concerned as the whole area is simply stunning.
If you want to avoid the crowds [and oncoming traffic] we recommend going on a weekday and avoiding Sunday’s altogether, for camping, end of season will be far more relaxing if that is one of your reasons for going.