Every 22nd March is World Water Day, a commemoration promoted by the UN whose main objective is to highlight the importance of a resource that is as important as it is threatened by the growing need for water supply. In Galicia we are well aware of its importance because it shapes our landscapes and our lives. Fresh water occupies many areas of our territory, filling them with life and also turning them into places to enjoy leisure, sport and nature.
Landscapes on the banks of the rivers
Hundreds of rivers cross Galicia, leaving in their wake a multitude of areas of great natural beauty. The courses of the Miño and the Sil meet between vineyards and vertiginous hillsides under the watchful eye of monasteries in the Ribeira Sacra; the Eume feeds and gives its name to one of the most spectacular natural parks in Galicia; the Ulla introduces us to a landscape of hanging bridges and fishing reserves; The Tambre is overcome by centuries-old viaducts full of history; the Eo bathes forests before becoming the natural border between Galicia and Asturias; the Navea feeds forges and groves in the lands of Ourense… These are just a small sample of the enormous wealth of landscapes that can be found by approaching the banks of our rivers.
Galicia boasts one of the most unique waterfalls in Europe. This is the one formed by the river Xallas in the municipality of Dumbría in A Coruña to pour its waters into the sea, an exceptional event on the continent and which makes the Fervenza do Ézaro the most famous waterfall in Galicia and, surely, the most visited. But the list of waterfalls worth seeing is extensive. The Rio Toxa (Silleda), Vilagocende (A Fonsagrada), Belelle (Neda), O Cachón (A Teixeira), As Hortas (Arzúa), A Barosa (Barro), Augacaída (Pantón), A Censa (A Pobra de Trives) or Escouridal (Alfoz) are other places that attract attention due to their size and the natural beauty of the place where they are located. Many of them are the main attraction of signposted hiking routes that will reward those who walk them with spectacular images.
Reservoirs for leisure
Designed as infrastructures for generating electricity, managing water supply and regulating the flow of rivers, many of Galicia’s reservoirs have also become spaces for leisure and sport. Some have beaches on their banks with all the necessary services to enjoy the sun and bathing as if we were by the sea and in other cases they have been equipped with facilities for water sports such as rowing, sailing or paddle surfing. That is why more and more people are enjoying these inland beaches. Castrelo de Miño, Prada (A Veiga), Vilasouto (O Incio), As Conchas (Bande and Muíños), Salas (Muíños), San Martiño (A Rúa and Petín) and Pontillón de Castro (Pontevedre) are some of these reservoirs whose shores are synonymous with fun.
Health and relaxation in the spas
The Romans and the Castros already knew and enjoyed the properties of the thermal waters that flow in many parts of Galicia, so it is not surprising that two millennia later the region is a reference point in this field. Numerous establishments offer a wide range of mineral-medicinal treatments combined, in many of them, with relaxation and wellness programmes. The spas are spread throughout the four Galician provinces and in most cases are linked to hotels in order to offer a more complete experience. In addition, in several municipalities, as is the case of Ourense, there is also the possibility of bathing in outdoor thermal pools where the leisure aspect is even more important.
Wetlands and lagoons full of life
The diversity of flora and fauna that they treasure make the lagoons and wetlands of Galicia true treasures and a must for those who want to enjoy nature. Many of these areas are home to important colonies of birds, which during the winter migrations increase with species arriving from other parts of the world. Birdwatching thus becomes one of the great attractions of places such as the lagoons of Cospeito or Caque, in A Terra Chá (province of Lugo), or Antela, in A Limia (Ourense). Fresh water is also an important source of life and biodiversity in the lagoons of Vixán (Corrubedo-Ribeira) and Traba (Laxe), and at the mouth of the river Anllóns (Ponteceso and Cabana de Bergantiños).