Embalse Tranco de Beas is a large reservoir in Jaén surrounded by nature offering outdoor activities including camping, hiking and watersports.
Embalse Tranco de Beas is a reservoir we’ve had our eye on for quite some time. It’s a big one and with big reservoirs come more activities, trails and hiking etc. Situated at the top end of the Jaén province this reservoir is very much ‘inland’ but has plenty to offer for both family camping and overlanding stops.
This reservoir also boasts several campsites of which there are two types:
- Camping rural which is camping on a registered and legal campsite.
- Zona de Acampada Controlada: controlled camping for groups such as scouts where you need to acquire permission from the council prior to your intended visit.
The latter is one of those things that is a bit of a headscratcher but that is for another post, all we’ll say for now is that these camping areas seemed to be very popular with motorhomes and vans…
There is no getting away from the fact that the area is very focused on tourism so if you like things quiet then it will be best to avoid the summer season and skip July and August. We visited in the beginning of May which was nice because we didn’t have the heat and there were no crowds, you could tell though that everywhere was gearing up for a busy summer.
Driving around the water
A word of caution is required here as the roads around the reservoir, although very well maintained are full of twists and turns, we met oncoming traffic in the middle of the road on blind bends on several occasions so it’s best just to take your time, it is a very scenic drive anyway so you don’t really want to rush things.
We visited in the beginning of May which was nice because we didn’t have the heat and there were no crowds
One thing we noticed about the roads were the amount of places you could pull in, some reservoirs have little opportunity for this but at El Tranco you can pull in every few hundred yards or so.
Miradores [Vantage points]
A mirador is always worth a stop, we use them all the time pulling in for a bite to eat or a quick coffee, you get the chance to stretch your legs and enjoy some great views too. No mirador is the same and they can be quite a mixed bag, the Tranco de Beas water has several of them though and they are all good especially ‘mirador Solano Padilla’ which has spectacular views of the water, is set back from the road behind a hill and has decent parking.
We did not stop at every mirador as we did not have that much time but they are certainly worth investigating if you are in the area for a few days.
There are a couple of recreation areas, we stopped at Área recreativa El Cerezuelo which we gave a three star out of five on Google maps mainly because it had a road running through the middle of it and not much parking, it all felt a bit out of place, like it was made there because it could be and not because it should be.
It was pleasant enough with a stream and plenty of foliage, bins were provided as well but it was too just close to the road. It is worth noting too that the barbeque facilities in recreation areas such as these are becoming increasingly taped off as southern Spain suffers another consecutive year of official drought.
We camped at Camping Fuente de La Pascuala [full review here] and there is another site further down the road called Camping Chopera near the small village of Coto Rios. This little village is worth a visit if you need to get the shopping in as it has a supermarket [quite expensive for certain items] and the village is full of bars and restaurants.
Our camping experience was good and we’ll be booking in at the other campsite for our next visit. The reservoir is the kind of place you need more than a couple of days to thoroughly explore especially if like a slower pace out of peak season.
€17.00 euros for an hour on the water in a double kayak? Why not! Okay the induction was pretty much non existent but luckily Gayle used to be in the sea cadets so knows a thing or two about about these things.
A good time was had on the water with the usual sore arms later on that evening. The area approaching the watersports is easy to find, has a very well kept car park, a restaurant and decent reviews too although we did not go in.
Bars & Restaurants
With our visit being focused on a bit or R&R for the weekend we did not visit any bars and restaurants but it is immediatly clear that there are dozens of them including chiringuitos. During the planning stage of the weekend we did look at some of the reviews for the eating establishments and they are very mixed indeed ranging from excellent food and service to the inedible so it will pay to do your research if eating out is your thing.
This reservoir is a three hour drive from where we are and it’s been worth the visit for sure, this is where contributing to Google maps comes in as it gives you an idea of what an area is like – more important when you are travelling some distance as you really don’t want to be left disappointed.
There is plenty to see and do around this large body of water, from an overlanding perspective it’s a light one, no real offroading although our main purpose this time was to camp and chill out, we did notice some tracks heading off into the woods so there may well be opportunity for exploring further.
Will we come back? Yes but avoiding the peak times, I can see the road around the water becoming very busy and there is evidence of previous accidents so the quieter the better for us. The water was also very low given the current situation in southern Spain.
Images and further resources below:
- Camping Fuente de La Pascuala
- El Tranco [tourism site]
- How to find a good campsite in Spain
- List of Reservoirs in Andalucia [+GPS Coordinates]
- GPS: 38.1286° N, 2.7758° W