Thermal Pools Of Yesa Lake Spain
It’s August 2022 and we’re on our Summer travels approaching the most extraordinary sight. Suddenly, as we’re driving along, we notice what turns out to be the thermal pools of Yesa lake, in the Navarra region of Spain. The surprise find comes just after the abandoned village of Esca, where arid landscapes and dry rivers flow.
Luckily, our 4×4 campervan comes in useful as we find a steep, bumpy off road track leading across the dry clay towards the lake.
The reservoir of Yesa is very low, with just a small amount of water clinging to the centre. At the moment, we don’t know that the people bathing in the distance are actually soaking in thermal springs.
Soon, as the gravel track brings us closer to the crumbling stone pool buildings, we realise what this really is – an abandoned pool complex.
Old Pool Changing Rooms and pool tiles
There’s several vehicles parked on the dry lake bed and we join them, eager to get out and investigate.
By now, we can smell the familiar Sulphur aroma of thermal pools. Wow! This place is amazing. Walking over the stony ground, we reach what seems to be the abandoned pool changing rooms, now crumbling and decayed and somewhat haunting to see.
There’s still pool tiles on the walls around, whilst crystal clear pools of Aqua water flow beneath the ruins.
The original pools are long gone, but makeshift rocks make a dam effect, providing several large natural pools. Here people soak, under the evening sun, the surroundings are surreal, beautiful and magical all at the same time.
Hot pools and a long soak
We test the water with the big toe dip, and yes, it’s super warm, almost like a bath and way too tempting to miss.
Layers of thermal waters form a cascade down the lake bed, with plenty of places to plonk.
Either side are the stone ruins and a large bathing pool, still evident now we can see closer. The old pipes protrude out of the ground, and remnants of the old walls are now really visible.
Although swimsuits seem optional for bathing, we still wear ours and choose an empty pool for our long soak. Not only is the water hot, but the view is superb.
Some people are sipping wine under the evening sky, whilst others coat themselves in the clay, no doubt a spa experience at no cost.
For us, it’s simply the best experience, not only do we love a natural hot pool, but the surroundings here are just fascinating.
The dry Yesa Lake reveals the hidden gem
I’m not sure if it’s unusual for Yesa reservoir to be so low, or if we’ve just hit lucky this year. Either way, it’s hard to imagine this as it once was – a thriving pool complex where people would come to bathe.
Although it’s sad to see it today in ruins, obviously often hidden below the waters of the lake, somehow we feel blessed.
There aren’t many places like this, where the changing seasons reveal a hidden gem and this is just an extra special one at that.
Bathing until the sun goes down
It’s hard to move from the relaxing hot waters of Yesa, but we know we really want to move on before darkness sets in.
As we leave the water, there are still locals arriving. Parking on the main road, they climb over a wall and walk the fairly long distance across the gravel towards the pools. Access without a 4×4 is confusing, we’re confused trying to get out, unsure if we’ve taken the right track. There are some people driving non 4×4 cars along a different track, but we’ve missed that turn somewhere off the track.
It takes a bit of effort to get us uphill, making the most of the 4×4, driving over the huge ruts in the ground. It’s certainly a bumpy ride over crevices and large holes, whilst sand, dirt and dust spurts out as we make our way towards the main road.
Lumbier is our stop for the night, where tomorrow we take on a famous gorge walk – the Foz de Lumbier.
Join us next time for this scenic route along an old railway track, where long tunnels and a beautiful river await.
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