Andalucia, Spain – El Torcal Natural Park Reserve

Riogordo-2016-04-23-047Today we drove to Torcal de Antequera Natural Area, thirty kilometres north of Malaga. It is one of the most dramatic and exceptional karstic landscapes in Europe. This surreal and lunar grey limestone plateau,
dating from the Jurassic Period, is riven by deep gullies and characterised by its fantastically weathered natural sculptures. It reminded us very much
of Bryce Canyon in the USA – the difference being the colour of the rock formations – in Bryce they are a beautiful orange/red/pink.  The drive was quite interesting and scenic as we made our way from Riogordo through Casabermeja and up to the hillside village of Villanueva de la Concepción. Unfortunately, the sunshine we had enjoyed throughout the 40 km drive disappeared as we drove the last few k’s up to the  car park and visitor centre situated at 1200 metres.

There were two walks that you could do – the green route (about 45 minutes) and the yellow route (about 2 hours). We opted for the yellow route and were glad we had decided to wear our walking boots. The track is not particularly flat and requires clambering up and over rocks for most of the journey. There are a few flat areas but it is mostly up and down rock hopping! It had rained two days ago and parts of the track were still quite wet and various sized puddles needed to be navigated. I wouldn’t suggest doing this walk when there has been recent rain as I can imagine certain areas would be difficult to traverse. We came across a few cows/bulls in some of the sheltered valleys and towards the end of the walk were greeted with sounds of bells ringing from a large flock of mountain sheep grazing amongst the rocks and ground covers.

On our return we enjoyed a reasonably priced, light meal on the terrace at the restaurant/cafe adjacent to the visitor centre before descending the mountain.

As it was a Saturday the car park was quite full when we arrived about 10.30am and when we left at about 1.30pm we noticed that cars were being corralled at the entrance (about 3.7 km from the visitor centre) and sent to an overflow car park. Therefore, we would suggest arriving in the morning if it’s a weekend otherwise you’ll have a lovely 3.7 km walk uphill just to get to the visitor centre and the walking tracks!!

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A bus tour group that ‘delayed’ us. They weren’t very well prepared for the trek.
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One of the few open and flat areas on the walk

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One of the cows enjoying the ‘serenity’!
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Note the reddish coloured rocks to the left – this is the walking track. You can also see some of the mountain sheep in the bottom right hand corner.
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The area near the end of the walk and close to the visitor centre

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