We bring you a mini tourist route to do by car and enjoy some of the most interesting points of the Sil canyons. A route that you can do in 5-6 hours. We recommend you go with a full tank of gasoline, since it is all uphill and you will not find gas stations in the area, also be careful with the roads because they are quite narrow and there is a fluid traffic of cars, bicycles and motorcycles in both directions. During this route you will find some spectacular aerial views of the Sil River, a route full of amazing landscapes that are worth seeing and feeling in all its splendor. A perfect rural weekend getaway, where you can go hiking, kayaking or even enjoy a boat ride across the river. It extends over almost 6,000 hectares (40 kilometers long and 500 meters deep) and from there comes one of the best wines in Spain, with the Ribeira Sacra Denomination of Origin.
Its vertical slopes worked for many years, are still today the livelihood of many inhabitants of the area, who produce excellent quality grapes on them. This area is also a refuge for multiple animal and plant species, which find the conditions they need for their existence between these walls and in its waters. This gorge corresponds to several localities: Nogueira de Ramuín (Ourense), Pantón (Lugo), Parada de Sil (Ourense) and Sober (Lugo). Thanks to its dimensions, the river is navigable, so it is common to see catamarans circulating along it. We have started the route from the town of Parada de Sil, the road is quite calm, we just have to go straight ahead and go up the road that borders the Sil river, little by little we will advance and appreciate spectacular monuments and viewpoints. The first stop that we recommend is the BAMBÁN DO SOLPOR, here you can find a bench located at the top of the mountain with unique views of the Ribeira Sacra.
This recent viewpoint has become a new focus of attraction for visitors in the Ribeira Sacra. A swing (bambán in Galician) from which you can see one of the most beautiful sunsets (solpor in Galician) in Ribeira Sacra. Following our route, the next stop is one of the most special, the stop at the Santo Estevo monastery. An old Benedictine convent with origins prior to the 10th century and subsequent stages of abandonment and recovery. The access road to the monastery, narrow at some points and with sharp curves, has several points to stop to take some pictures, including a picnic area to eat five minutes by car. Upon arrival you can find a totally free underground parking, in addition to the outdoor parking area, which is usually quite busy, we recommend you arrive early around 10 am to avoid crowds and have time to continue with the canyon route along of the day.
We contemplate the exterior of this beautiful complex formed by the church and the convent. It has an "L" shape, a typical structure of Benedictine monasteries. In front of the church there is a small cemetery. The parador, an old monastery, and the church can be visited for free during the opening season, which usually runs from March to December. In the area of the small cloisters you can see temporary exhibitions. We have to say that we were quite surprised, a magical place that we recommend you visit. Later we continue or rather, we begin the route of the Sil canyons, making a stop to appreciate the spectacular dam, thanks to the viewpoint that provides us with a unique panoramic view and appreciate the amazing construction that has been carried out, which is the main source of natural energy in Galicia. We continue ascending through its curved roads, making a quick stop at the Pé de Home viewpoint.
Pé do Home is located on the border of the parish of Cerreda (Santiago) with that of Vilar de Cerreda (Santa Baia), both belonging to the municipality of Nogueira de Ramuín. At a height of 518 meters we will find two platforms created as viewpoints. On one side we have the old covered wooden structure, and on the other we have a metal platform on top of a rocky crag overlooking the cliff. This last viewpoint of Pé do Home was built in 2020. We continue... and in the limits with the municipality of Parada de Sil is the place of Vilouxe. The car must be left at the entrance of the town, on an esplanade next to the chapel and from there cross the town and access the viewpoint, possibly the most impressive of those that look at the Sil Canyon; in total about 800 meters.
It is a natural viewpoint, without any intervention, so it is recommended to carefully approach any of the two points from where you can see the most iconic image of the Sil in Ribeira Sacra: the meander known as Coto das Boedas, an impressive mass granite of more than 700 meters of altitude that falls vertically to the river in a drop that exceeds 400 meters. Without a doubt, this viewpoint is one of the most impressive to see in the Ribeira Sacra. The next viewpoint worthy of a stop is about 7-8 minutes up the road, called the Cabezoás viewpoint, you can find it right next to the road, you have an easily accessible parking lot on the right side of the road.
Cabezoás is one of the most popular viewpoints in the Ribeira Sacra, which indicates its relevance in a territory characterized by the abundance and quality of observation points. It has a wooden walkway and a platform that accentuates the vertiginous view of the river, surrounded by the vegetation typical of the area such as chestnut trees, oak trees and heather. We continue going up, to the balconies of Madrid, at a distance of about 20 minutes by car on the road, very close to here we have a wonderful town where we can stop to eat and rest a bit. The balconies of Madrid, being realistic, have not caught our attention, we believe that there are much better viewpoints than this one, it should be noted that it is very close to the Santa Cristina monastery, so it is advisable to attend to visit both places. The most remarkable thing about the balconies of Madrid is its history, since it speaks of emigration, human adventures and illusions in unknown lands. The original name of this balcony is Os Torgás, the name was changed because the people from the villages of Parada de Sil used to hang over the precipices of the river, to say goodbye to their loved ones who left for Madrid and other southern lands with the dream of new objectives or goals, in order to find a more prosperous life.
Leaving aside the viewpoints, we decided to finish our route with a visit to the canyon and the footbridges of the Mao River. A route that the whole family can do, because in addition to being short and simple, it is really beautiful and the little ones in the house and the older ones will certainly like it. Although it is true that it has a steep slope, we believe that doing it calmly is bearable. It is important that you know that along the walkways there are many steps, so it is not possible to go with carts, wheelchairs or bikes. The total distance of the Mao footbridges is 1.8 kilometers and the difference in level to be overcome (using stairs) is 41 meters. The tour begins at the Fábrica de la Luz, an old hydroelectric plant converted into a hostel.
However, this route cannot be explained: you have to live it and enjoy its innate beauty. The landscape accompanies the visitor and offers unforgettable views. It is a walk built in wood and has ramps, stairs and a viewpoint for the enjoyment of the narrow Mao Valley and its magnificent nature. It was designed by landscape architect Isabel Aguirre. An exemplary and unique place to disconnect and enjoy nature in all its splendor. Are you ready to start this new adventure? Go to our tourist housing reservation center www.vitgal.es and mark a date for your visit. Don't run out of accommodation!