Leather handicraft straight from the workshop on four wheels
Wandering through Iberian lands
23/04/2020 12:37 PM
Spain is administratively divided into 19 autonomous communities. The second largest is Andalusia, which in turn consists of 8 provinces. Very often, when we hear the word Malaga it seems to us that the interlocutor means only the city. Meanwhile, the province of Malaga has a very diverse landscape, and that's what we are going today - to two extremely interesting places - Caminito del Rey and to the nature reserve El Torcal de Antequera.
It always seemed to me that I was a typical townsman - I loved living in the city because everything was at hand: shops, shopping centers, restaurants, a huge selection of food available for delivery, constant access to entertainment from cinemas, through libraries to concerts ... It was imposible to get bored and you could satisfy most of your needs immediately. However, since we built our house on wheels and set off to conquer southwestern Europe, it turned out that cities no longer interest me or attract me. What's more - now I can't imagine living in one! We are so accustomed to living in nature, that the metropolitan noise, smell of exhaust fumes, crowded shops and queues in supermarkets, endless traffic jams, everlasting humming drivers literally give us a headache. It's nice to come to the city sometimes but a longer stay just isn't an option anymore. Recently, we'd had quite a few problems with the car and we got stuck, just before the quarantine satrted, in Malaga. Malaga is a beautiful city and offers something that I always enjoy - every Sunday, admission to selected museums is free! About the city itself we will write in the future surely – all those museum I really recommend to everyone, not only fans of painting, art or history. Anyways, today we are going to focus on what can be done in the vicinity of Malaga.
Today we are going only 50 km north of the capital of the region to get to Torcal de Antequera - a nature reserve that resembles Polish Jura Krakowsko-Częstochowska or the Czech rock city Adršpach. The area of 17 km² was registered by UNESCO as a World Heritage. The place is extremely charming and you can spend your time there actively, however, do not expect intense effort or advanced trekking. We went there with our van, we arrived to the parking lot next to the visitor center (https://goo.gl/maps/2FZ2HhoxCuokxJX17), where all three available routes start - green, yellow and orange – to Torcal Alto peak.
The green route is 1.5 km long and because it's circular it will lead us back to the starting point, the estimated duration is 45 minutes. The yellow route is 3 km long and the trail will also lead us back to the starting point, but in about 2 hours. In our opinion, both options are very easy and suitable for everyone although we are walking on the stony and irregular land. We chose the yellow trail, it was in the middle of February and the weather was not very good as you can see in the pictures - the fog limited visibility to literally 20-30cm and thus the ground was very humid. In such weather conditions one should be very careful, it is slippery and even trails for beginners can become a challenge. Due to adverse weather conditions, we decided not to climb the Torcal Alto peak. The route marked in orange is 3.6 km long and is linear, which means that it ends at a different place than it starts. According to the information you can find on the park's website the orange trail has the same difficulty level as the yellow one and it's defined as intermediate. All these options are free and do not require any reservations. The park also organizes special guided tours that must be booked in advance http://www.torcaldeantequera.com/
Please don't forget to take trekking shoes with you suitable for walking in the mountains (sneakers, high heels or flip-flops inadvisable), some food and the right amount of water (there is a restaurant and a souvenir shop but obviously prices are a bit higher than in a supermarket). The unpleasant weather is not unusual. This mountain range is characterized by a rather specific microclimate, the temperature is always lower than in neighboring villages or cities, including Malaga, and there is often a lot of fog so remember about the proper outfit (something warm to wear, a fleece, a hat or even gloves + something rainproof), it is better to wear more than less and appropriate shoes can save you from falling when it is very slippery. We do not need to mention that this is a protected area and this means that you should not litter or collect fruit or minerals or fossils (stones and pebbles neither). Camping and staying in the park overnight are prohibited. We did stay there for one night, we were one of the many vans and RVs there and noone came to kick us out but maybe we were just lucky. We had already encountered such rules in other places before, e.g. in Almeria or Tenerife, and in the evening the police or municipal police came to inform us we must move.
During a walk in Torcal de Antequera I was able to take the most amazing photos of our leather handicrafts. The weather, which was not favorable for walking, turned out to change this place to an extremely photogenic one and the photos came out as if we had taken them in wonderland. We also managed to photograph some wild goats and in the souvenir shop we bought several minerals that we will probably use to decorate our next projects.
From El Torcal de Antequera we went directly towards Caminito del Rey. As you can see in the pictures, right after we left the mountains the sky cleared! We headed towards the town of Ardales and parked the van for the night right next to the „El Kiosko” restaurant. At the bus stop there is a small parking lot (we met a fox on it but I was unable to take a good picture because it moved too much so it is blurred), on which even our seven-meter van somehow fit without protruding too much into the street. We weren't alone there and we even met our neighbors the next day on the trail. From this place to enter the trail you have to walk about 2 km - 20 minutes is enough.
On the way, of course, we had to stop four times, although we had only 50 km to drive. Unfortunately, at that time, we were still struggling with various problems with our car and we had to stop every now and then to release the pressure from the cooling system (story for a separate article, it all ended with the replacement of the head gasket). During one of the stops we saw a super interesting sign - please do not land on this property - regarding paragliders!
Caminito del Rey is a toll trail and you have to book your tickets in advance (at https://reservas.caminitodelrey.info/ 10 € per person, 18 € with a guide) - depending on the season, sometimes even few weeks in advance. When planning holidays during the summer season, you have to take into account this fact and buy tickets preferably two or three months before. We got lucky and we were able to buy tickets from day to day without any problem but it was February. If you do not have a car, you can also get there by train, I do not know what the situation will look like after the quarantine ends, but at the beginning of 2020 there was a pool of tickets that you bought at selected train stations in the city of Malaga. Train ticket for Cercanías de Málaga + bus and entrance to the trail cost 23 €. You can buy this combined ticket at any station of Cercanías de Málaga, remembering that there is a limited amount of tickets available each day (70 at that time). It is a return ticket and also includes a bus that will take us from the end of the trail back to the train station. These combined tickets cannot be neither booked nor bought in advance. So you have to go to the train station early in the morning and hope that there are still tickets available. Of course, you can also book your visit on the website of the Caminito Del Rey and then buy only a train ticket separately.
At the beginning of the 20th century, a water channel was built that lead from the water reservoirs north of El Chorros. It was carried out together with a path for maintaining the channel. This one was inaugurated by King Alfonso XIII in 1921 and that is why it is called - King's (Little) Path "El Caminito del Rey". For a long time it was considered one of the most dangerous places in the whole country. A lot of accidents which took place there, some of them fatal, resulted in closing
the trail in 2001. By then El Caminito Del Rey was already quite infamous. Some parts of it were destroyed, but even this did not stop tourists who were still returning despite the fact that for walks along the King's Path you could get tickets of up to EUR 6,000. Therefore, a decision was made to renovate it. Renovation ended in 2015. New, better protected, wooden footbridges appeared, which "hang" in canyon in some places at a height of 100m. We also have a 4G range and a visitor center under construction, which will house a souvenir shop and a cafe with a restaurant in the future.
This is a really unique and picturesque place but once again we are dealing with trekking for beginners. Honestly speaking – if you are spedning you holidays somewhere close to Malaga with your entire family I do believe this trail is suitable for almost everyone. Only if someone is not able to walk the distance of 3-5km then it's better to stay home.The trail from the entrance gate to the place where we give our helmets back (they are obligatory) is less than 3 km but you still have to get somehow to the entrance. There are various paths you can chose from, we had 2 km to walk, so that makes 5 in general but you, when planning your trip, can extend it by another few kilometers.
We hope that our photos and the video, which is already available on YouTube (below) will not only show you the beauty of this place but also all encourage you to come to these sites.
If you are a fan of caravanning or vanlife there are few really nice spots close to Caminito del Rey good for camping. We found a great, intimate lake beach where you can relax for a few days.
And our video: