Who would have said that Spain, always depicted as a sunny country with arid landscapes, could host beautiful rainy hills and meadows? Located in the National Park of Guadarrama, 1.5 hours north of the Madrid City Center, we find Rascafría, a small town where priceless springs allow us to enjoy fast-flowing waters, bright colored flowers, and breathtaking sunsets.
In this majestic locale, adventurous ACCENT Madrid students can hike many different peaks and routes, but this term we recommend Cascadas del Purgatorio, a path that leads into an enormous waterfall.
In order to get to Rascafría, take bus 194 from Plaza Castilla. Once you arrive in Rascafría you should hop off at Monastery of El Paular, since this is the closest bus stop to the Cascadas del Purgatorio route. Before you begin the hike, take some time to explore this Monastery where Benedictine monks offer guided tours to share their history and sell traditional handmade goods.
When you get off the bus, cross the Puente del Perdón bridge. We assure you that you will never forget this bridge, not only because it dates from the 14th century, but because on both sides of it you will find the greatest concentration of black sheep you can imagine. Then continue onto the paved road past a youth hostel called Los Batanes, until you see a wooden fence to your right that takes you to some natural swimming pools, or Presillas. If the weather is nice, you can swim there and have a picnic with tapas!
After having a nice splash, follow the road until you see a path to your left. Take this fork and follow it until you see the Cascadas del Purgatorio. You will notice that the more you walk, the denser the forest becomes and the stronger the smell of the pine trees. There are several waterfalls in the area, but the most impressive one is hidden behind some huge rocks. You can observe the waterfall from a wooden platform that has been created for that purpose.So, friends, come to Rascafría and enjoy a relaxing weekend in Madrid!
~Ana Hernández, ACCENT Madrid
Did this post inspire you to see for yourself the wonders the Spanish countryside has to offer? Research your study abroad options at http://accentintl.com/find-a-program/.</em