Es Broll de Buscastell Ibiza by Tanya Taylor
The small hamlet of Buscastell can be found nestled away in the outer reaches of San Antonio between Santa Gertrudis and Sant Ines. It’s a tiny little place vacant of clubs, hotels, beaches and glittering souvenir shops.
There’s not a lot to be found there and that’s why it’s often overlooked by the visiting masses. There is one thing though that puts this little place on the map, an impressive 1500-year-old irrigation system that’s still fully functioning today.
It’s found in the valley of Es Broll which literally translates as “the stream”. It’s a very unique area on the island being one of only a few wetlands, a small, green oasis amidst the standard, dry and dusty, Ibiza terrain.
This is a perfect day out for nature lovers or those with an interest in history, architecture or permaculture. To see Es Broll in its full glory then I’d definitely recommend visiting in the spring or after the heavy rains in autumn.
This is when the water is flowing plentifully through the maze of stone channels that border flat cultivated terraces. In the summertime, the area is still very beautiful, however, the aqueducts are generally dry and a bit overgrown.
Es Broll has a rich historical heritage and visitors are advised to respect the nature, peace and tranquillity found there. Many Ibicenco farmers still work on the land so it’s important to respect their environment.
The source of the Es Broll an aquifer sits conveniently at the top of a hill, which means it flows naturally down into the valley below. As well as this, any rainfall on the surrounding hills is also channelled directly into the valley.
This whole area represents an amazing example of permaculture, the use of nature and natural formations for cultivation. It’s for this reason that farmers have been using this reliable, natural water source for thousands of years.
The Moors were an Arabic culture with acclaimed skills in stonework, architecture and agriculture. They arrived in Ibiza in around 900AD and ruled the island for over 300 years.
They were very quick to develop the valley of Es Broll, building beautiful stone canals that would channel the naturally flowing water with precision, fully utilising every last drop.
With this new and more efficient water supply, the Moors also introduced a systematic method for distribution where each farm would be designated particular hours of usage.
Because the preferential time to water crops was in the evening, away from the scorching sun, the local farmers went on to develop “balsas” or small water reservoirs where they could collect the water and store it for use at a more convenient time.
These stone, square ponds can be found scattered around the valley. Many contain plants and fish, their job is to filter the water and stop it stagnating.
The route to Es Broll follows a long ride on a Camino (dirt track). It’s better to take it easy on these tracks not only so you don’t lose your car rental deposit on a scratched undercarriage but also because there are lots of walkers and cyclists using the path too.
You won’t find a car park as such but there are some spaces along the verge you can use, under the shade of trees. You know you’re in the right place when you see areas of land arranged into neat terraces that snake through the valley.
It’s kind of like a big wild allotment, each section with a different crop and bordered with its own private irrigation system. This lush valley is ripe with life and the constant, tinkling, trickle of water makes the place feel like a fairy glen. It’s the perfect spot for a romantic picnic.
After admiring the impressive waterways you can follow one of many footpaths through the shaded valley. If you’re the adventurous type you can try out one of the hiking trails that incorporates Es Broll into its route. Ibiza is a very cyclist friendly island too so why not hire a mountain bike to explore the peaceful meandering hills.
Whether you tackle this adventure in the car or by hiking out on the footpaths, it’s worth noting that Can Tixido is the only watering hole in those parts and can be found at the main crossroads at Bustcastell.
It’s an “Art Cafe” so it always has an interesting array of exhibits from local artists on their walls. The menu is very reasonable and has a great selection of tapas and cocktails, a great place for a pit stop.
Opposite Can Tixedò is where the Forada market is held each Saturday so you might want to plan your visit to coincide with that. It’s a really upbeat farmers market with a welcoming atmosphere. Here you will find many local, homemade, homegrown, Ibiza treats to enjoy amongst many smiling faces.
Each year at the end of July the fiesta of Es Broll takes place and the valley comes to life with traditional music, games and dancing that lasts into the night.
Traditionally this was a festival to celebrate the completion of the season’s work, however, it became lost in the mists of time but was reestablished in 1996, reviving the lost culture of Es Broll.
A trip to Es Broll gives a nostalgic impression of how people lived and thrived in this valley for thousands of years with very little changing over time. It’s not buzzing as in the main room in Amnesia buzzing, but with all the nature and life thriving here, there’s definitely an uplifting vibrancy in the air.
So as the hustle and bustle of Ibiza summer goes on, this little valley remains mostly peaceful, untouched and it’s probably the closest you’ll get to the real Ibiza and its rich history of culture and agriculture.
Tanya can be found up in the northern hills of Ibiza. When she is not taking care of horses, she is usually scribbling away about nature, sunshine and all of the other wonderful things Ibiza has to offer