Walking in the beauty of the Antequeran mountain range of El Torcal and El Chorro

I have many guests who want to lie by a pool, soak in the hot tub and read with a glass of wine by their sides. Then there are others who want an historic site visiting holiday soaking up the beauty of the Seville and Malaga areas of Andalucia. Then there are those who want an active, adrenalin rush holiday! It is those I appeal to today.

If you want to try something unbelievably dangerous and I must say, illegal, there is only one place to go. The Camino del Rey just outside Antequera. You can watch a video on Youtube which was filmed by a ‘guide’ talking and walking as if he is on a Sunday stroll in the park.

The walkway was built to provide workers at the hydroelectric plants at Chorro Falls and Gaitanejo Falls with means to cross between them, to provide for transport of materials and to facilitate inspection and maintenance of the channel. Construction began in 1901 and was finished in 1905.

In 1921 KingAlfonso IIIcrossed the walkway for the inauguration of the dam Conde del Gaudalhorce and it became known by its present name.

In many places the walkway has collapsed and this is the thrill for the adrenalin junkies. The walkway is one metre wide and rises 100 metres above the river below. Constructed of concrete, resting on steel rails supported by stanchions at around 45 degrees into the rock face, it is currently in a highly deteriorated state and there are numerous sections where part or all of the concrete top has collapsed. The result is large open air gaps that are bridged only by narrow steel beams or other support fixtures. Very few of the original handrails exist but a safety-wire runs the length of the path. Several people have lost their lives on the walkway in recent times and after two fatal accidents in 1999 and 2000 the local government closed both entrances, due to the fact that Caminito claims over 500 lives a year.

In June 2011, the regional government of Andalucia and the local government of Málaga agreed to share costs of restoration (including car parking and a museum) of €9 million. The project will take approximately three years to complete.Many of the original features will remain in place and the new materials that are used will be in keeping with the old design.

Even if you can’t face the camino, the walking in this area is stunning.El Torcal de Antequera, the largest mountain in this region, is a nature reserve in the Sierra del Torcal mountain range located south of the city of Antequera, in the province of Malaga. It is known for its unusual landforms, and is one of the most impressive landscapes in Europe. The area was designated a Natural Site of National Interest in July 1929, and a Natural Park Reserve of about 17 square kilometres was created in October 1978.

The Jurassic age limestone is about 150 million years old and was laid down in a marine corridor that extended from the Gulf of Cadiz to Alicante between the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. These sea beds were uplifted to an elevation of over 1300 meters during the Tertiary era, resulting in a modest mountain range of flat-lying limestone, which is rare inAndalucia. Later, a series of fractures, cracks and faults at right-angles were exploited by erosion and produced the alleys between large blocks of limestone visible today. The various shapes resemble, and have been named after, everyday objects such as the Sphinx, the Jug, the Camel, the Screw, etc. Other flat surfaces have been karstified into rugged, rocky lands where travel on foot is difficult.

Like many massive limestones, the Torcal includes cavesand other underground forms, some of them of historical importance like the Cueva del Toro (Cave of the Bull) with its Neolithic artifacts. Their origins are also related to the dissolution of underground limestone by rainwater. The following are two photos of the unusual formations.

El Torcal supports an impressive array of wildflowers including lilies, nazarenes, red peonies, wild rose trees and thirty varieties of orchid. The many species of reptiles include the Montpelier Snake and Eyed Lizard. Other life includes the Griffon vulture, the Andalucian mountain goat and nocturnal mammals such as badgers, weasels, rodents and stoats.

El Torcal is accessible by paved road from the village of Villanueva de la Concepción. A small gift shop and interpretive center at the parking area is the starting point for a short walk to an impressive viewpoint and three color-coded hiking trails of 1.5km, 2.5km and 4.5km length which include many scenic viewpoints.

Because of temperature extremes, most visitation occurs in the spring and fall.

So if you are up for it don’t miss it. But I did warn you.