Chelva is a beautiful old village with different cultural influences one hours drive to the north-west of Valencia. The town lays in the middle of the mountains close to the valley beauty in Chulilla and two rivers run through its municipality. The circular water route (Spanish: Ruta del agua) goes along the green fertile river bed - encompassed by cliffs. The water route takes you about three hours and is well suited if you are up for a small sporty outdoor adventure and want to discover the countryside of Valencia. Chelva is the perfect spot away from typical tourists hordes, although the route is well prepared and there are several rest areas, it only gets busy on weekends.
There is a parking and picnic area if you drive downhill from Chelva. Put some sun screen on and do some stretching if you like before starting the water route. Along the way there is drinkable water available, but take drinks and food with you anyway. Look out for a good spots to eat your bocadillo there. Bocadillo is the Spanish word for sandwich and is often eaten for almuerzo, which is the meal between breakfast (around 9 am) and midday meal (around 2 pm).
There is a strong tradition in the Valencian Community for doing almuerzo. One of my favourite bocadillos is the Chivito, but it is far away from being light – having lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, fried egg, bacon and pork loin it. It sounds massive and it really is, but once in a while I really like it and it is definitely something special. Furthermore the villages in the surroundings of Valencia like Chelva are good locations to have tasty food for decent prices like the almuerzo. It often comes in a menu called almuerzo popular - including a drink, olives or nuts and for better digestion a coffee. All for around 5€.
Around la plaza mayor (main square) in Chelva are a couple of restaurants where you can have food, but make sure you aren’t hungry and thirsty between 2 pm and 5 pm. It's the time of siesta and everything will be closed. Chelva's main square is also another possible starting spot for the water route.
I did the route twice because I really enjoyed it the first time and wanted to show the route to friends. We started at the parking spot following the river Tuéjar - away from the close-by bridge. It's nice and fresh under the trees near the Tuéjar river, especially during summer you will appreciate the refreshing air. After a while hiking you can spot a waterhole and behind a small waterfall.
If you go up after the waterfall you will leave the circular route, but it's worth it if you like it a bit scary, dark and bent down. The tunnel is quite long, at certain parts quite low and at the middle of it you can’t even see your hand in front of your face.
It is great fun. Check out my next article to see what’s on the other side and what’s more on the Chelva's water route.
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