Cueva del Gato

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  7. Cueva del Gato – Complete Guide

Cueva del Gato

Huge cave (8 km long) with a spectacular natural pool at its feet, with cold crystalline blue water, surrounded by trees. Located within the Sierra de Grazalema natural park, 15 km west of Ronda, Málaga.

The Cueva del Gato (Cat Cave) gives its name to one of the most unique complex of caves (called ‘Sistema Hundidero Gato’) in Andalusia. It is 8 km long, has a 4 km long gallery and rooms up to 70 m high. It has two entrances, one to the north and one to the south. The southern one is called ‘Cueva del Gato‘ (17 m wide by 26 m high), as it is said to resemble a cat’s face.

The Cueva del Gato is the natural emptying of the system. The river Guadares is born in the Sierra de Grazalema (Cádiz) near Villaluenga del Rosario (15 km southwest of the Cueva del Gato). Here the river disappears below the surface of the earth and then emerges again in the Cueva del Gato. In addition, a spring is born inside the cave.

The cave has permanent water, waterfalls, chasms, siphons and 25 lakes! The longest is 114 m. The unpredictable rise of water in the cave system has already killed 23 people. Inside there are also Palaeolithic and post-Palaeolithic rock art and archaeological sites. For these reasons, entry to the cave has been prohibited.

At the foot of the Cueva del Gato there is a natural pool of unique beauty, called ‘Laguna del Charco Frío’ or ‘Laguna del Gato‘. Its deep blue and crystal clear water is very cold and clean, as it comes from underground water and a spring (as I explained above). It’s ideal for a swim in the hottest months.

Getting to the Cueva del Gato is easy. From the car park (see the location below in the Parking section), descend the path and cross the river Guadiaro. After 150 m you will find the bathing area surrounded by vegetation and plenty of shade.

In 2011 it was declared ‘Natural Monument of Andalusia‘ which should help to protect the caves, rock art and natural pool.

cueva del gato location

The Cueva del Gato is very well signposted on the MA-7401, whether you are coming from Ronda or Benaoján. From the car park next to the road, you can see the entrance to the cave (on the right of the photo).

Route to cueva del gato

From the car park, it is a 150 m walk. Cross the river and go under the railway track.

Before going under the rails

Under the railway track, there is a wooden footbridge next to the river. The dog area is before crossing this bridge.

Cueva-del-Gato natural pool

The natural pool of Cueva del Gato is surrounded by trees. Look how beautiful the oleander is!

Cueva-del-Gato and sustainability

There is not much room at the edge of the pool. On summer days, it can easily become overcrowded.

Cueva-del-Gato swimming hole

Yet, as the water is very cold, few people bathe in it.

cave and natural pool

The swimming hole has crystal clear water and plenty of shade around it. The cave of Cueva del Gato is in the background.

River coming out of Cueva-del-Gato

The river Guadares comes out of the southern mouth of the cave system (the Cueva del Gato), after a 15 km underground journey! That’s why the water is so cold.

cueva del gato benaojan

View of the natural pool (Cat Lagoon) from the cave entrance.

cueva del gato benaojan

 

wildswimming malaga

River Guadares joins river Guadiaro about 50 m downstream.

entrance to Cueva-del-Gato cave

Entry to the cave system of Cueva del Gato is prohibited.

accomodation cueva del gato

Yet, there are many other impressive caves around that can be visited. The Sierra de Grazalema, composed of limestone rock, has been sculpted into many caves.

white villages serrania de ronda

The white villages of Serranía de Ronda are worth exploring (check the Things to Do section below).

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HOW TO GET TO - Cueva del Gato

Getting There

Transport Options

There is no public transport to get to the Cueva del Gato. You can get there by car or on foot from Benaoján or other surrounding villages.

For example, from Benaoján there is an easy route, 6 km long and with hardly any gradient, that leads to the Cueva del Gato.

This other route of 8 km is circular and of moderate difficulty and passes through the mountains around the Cueva del Gato and Benaoján.

Getting There

How to get to Cueva del Gato?

To get to Cueva del Gato take the MA-7401 road between Ronda and Benaoján. If you arrive from either direction, you will see signposts indicating the access to Cueva del Gato car park.

From the car park, it is a 150 m walk to the cave and bathing area. Walk down the slope next to the car park and cross the river Guadiaro (over a wooden bridge). Then go under the railway tracks, passing over the stone bridge. 

Parking

The car park in 2022 is free of charge. From the car park, it is only a 150-metre walk to the Cueva del Gato.

See the car park on Google maps

Location

Spain, Málaga

Villages Nearby

Benaoján (2.9 km), Montejaque (5.8 km), Ronda (13.7 km), Málaga (133 km)

Difficulty Level

Very easy

Walking Time

If you leave your car in the car park, it is a pleasant and easy 2-minute walk.

Drinking Water Spots

None

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USEFUL INFORMATION - Cueva del Gato

Handy Things to Know

When to Go

In summer and especially at weekends it gets very crowded. It is advisable to avoid summer weekends. You’ll enjoy the site more and also help protect it. It is always open. There are no opening hours.

Price

In the last years, you had to pay a small fee to enter the bathing area. This year 2022 it is free.

Yet we understand that popular places in nature, which is become crowded, services and staff are required to protect it, and keep it clean and safe.
During peak periods this implies: porter (who keeps track of the capacity and number of people), installation and maintenance of toilets, lifeguards, cleaning, forest rangers and local police.

For the rest of the year, it could be free access without services.

Many people take care of nature. Yet, unfortunately, there are always people who dump garbage on the floor and do not pick it up.

Activities

Swimming in the natural pool
Hiking
Picnic

For more details of the activities, see below the Things to do section.

Facilities

There are rubbish bins around the pool and cleaning staff. Local police and forest rangers patrol the area. During the summer, this natural pool in Malaga has a lifeguard (hours: 12 am - 7:30 pm)

Kids

Many families come here. It is easy to reach and there is a lot of shade, but not much space, so most of them stay only for a short time.

Dogs

Dogs are not allowed in the bathing area. There is an area for dogs, located before reaching the bridge.

Skinny Dipping

No

Wheelchair Access

Yes

Restrictions

It is forbidden to make fires and use barbecues and litter. Also, camping and parking in areas not designated for this purpose are forbidden.
 
Avoid bringing chairs and umbrellas. These cannot be stuck in the rocks and can destroy the site.
 
Do not play loud music.

Remember that soap and detergents should not be used in rivers and pools. Also, most sun creams contaminate the water, try to apply them 1 hour before taking a dip.

(Scientists have found that sunscreen releases significant amounts of titanium dioxide, which damages aquatic life.
Soaps have phosphates, are also non-biodegradable and harm the environment). 

You may be fined if you do not respect these warnings.

Managed by

Ayuntamiento de Benaojan – 952 16 70 46 – [email protected]

Things to Do – Cueva del Gato

Things to Do

Things to do near Cueva del Gato

Caves – It is forbidden to enter Hundidero-Gato. But there are many caves around that you can visit inside, such as the impressive Cueva de la Pileta. It is a prehistoric site with Palaeolithic parietal art and Neolithic remains. You can make reservations here.

Visit the quaint, beautiful white villages of the Serranía de Ronda. These are: Algatocin, Alpandeire, Arriate, Atajate, Benadalid, Benalauría, Benaoján, Benarrabá, Cortes de la Fra, Cartajima, Faraján, Gaucín, Genalguacil, Igualeja, Jimera de Libar, Jubrique, Júzcar, Montejaque, Montecorto, Parauta, Pujerra, Ronda and Serrato.
Don’t miss Benaoján, Genalguacil, Benalauría which is full of flowers and Ronda. Ronda is on a plateau cut by a deep gorge carved by the river Guadalevín, crossed by the mythical bridge. Next to it is the historic centre, which gives Ronda a picturesque panorama.

Visit the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park in Cádiz. Its magnificent forests and ravines are great for hiking. It also has a route of 19 beautiful tiny white villages. The ones we liked the most were Arcos de la Frontera, Setenil de las Bodegas, Grazalema and Zahara de la Sierra.

Canyoning in Cañón de las Buitreras. The canyon of Las Buitreras is a spectacular and narrow canyon with incredible waterfalls and pools. It was created by the erosion of the Guadiaro river on the limestone rock between the ‘Sierra de Grazalema’ and the ‘Serranía de Ronda’. The narrow walls and their verticality (up to 200 m) and the hundreds of Griffon Vultures that live in them, make this place unique.

Via Ferratas – In this mountainous area there are multiple via ferratas, such as the via ferrata of Montejaque, El Caimán and Ferrata Sierra del Hacho.

Where to Eat

There is a restaurant about 200 m upstream and another one about 600 m upstream. Also in Benaoján, there are several restaurants. In Ronda, you have many options.

Some typical dishes here are artichoke and almond soups, rabbit with garlic, stews with pork or goat or partridge in sauce.

Accommodation

There is an Eco Hotel 80 m away from Cueva del Gato. About 190 m away is the Rural accomodation Casitas Cueva del Gato.

The nearest villages to stay in, are Benaoján and Montejaque, which are about 2 and 5 km away. There are also plenty of options to stay outside the villages, in the countryside.

There are many beautiful white villages in the Serranía de Ronda and Sierra de Grazalema.

Ronda and Malaga are further away but have many great accommodation options.

Geography

Altitude

463 m (1519 ft)

Size

The natural pool of the Cueva del Gato is round and has a diameter of about 25 m.

Under Foot

The pool under the Cueva del Gato has soil around it and a few rocks. The cave is carved in limestone.

Maximum Water Depth

Only in the part of the pool near the waterfall, it is not possible to stand (it is more than 2 m deep).

Minimum Swimming Level

There are shallow beach areas. Yet, as soon as you get further inside most lagoons it gets very deep, so you must know how to swim.

Shade

There are many trees surrounding the natural pool. These provide shade during the day.

How Clean is Swimming Spot?

The place is clean. The municipality has placed rubbish bins around the natural pool. It also collects the rubbish that people, unfortunately, always leave on the ground when there is a large influx of people.

Water

Underwater

There is great visibility (10 cm), but there is not much wildlife to see underwater.

Water Temperature

Very cold

Water Colour

Crystalline blue

How Clean is Water?

Very clean, as it comes from the spring
SWIMMING HOLES
IN HUESCA

 Swimmming-holes

Check out the best Swimming Holes & Places to Swim INLAND!

Salto de Bierge
Cascada de Sorrosal
Pozán de Vero
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Puyarruego

WILD SWIMMING
IN ALICANTE

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Check out the best Wild Swimming spots on the COAST!

Cala Granadella
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Keep it Clean!

The Rules

Clean the swimming holes!

Swimming Safety

Read these Tips
&
be Safe
when Wild Swimming

DESTINATIONS

UK
Spain
Bali
Belize
Mexico
Trinidad and Tobago
Costa Rica
India
Martinique

SWIMMING SPOTS

Best places to swim in nature in the world

Check out the best places to go wild swimming, by the TYPE of swimming spot

Swimming Holes
Lakes
Rivers
Waterfalls
Sea

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