Also known as Desfiladero de los Gaitanes, it attracts many adventurers from all over the world. In Álora, a small municipality up in the mountains of Malaga Province, you will find this amazing landscape, perfect for spending a day in contact with nature. Desfiladero de los Gaitanes (Gaitanes Gorge) is a protected area where a light blue river (the Guadalhorce River) is surrounded by huge and stunning slabs of stratified limestone.
Álora is located approximately 40km from Malaga centre. It’s a small town of white houses and friendly people who would welcome you to sit outside the porch of their houses. The natural park is part of this town, at about 10km up the mountain after passing the town. You know you are arriving as soon as you see this spectacular view of the Guadalhorce River reposing in between the mountains, held by a huge dam. When you see that, you know you are in the small village, El Chorro. It can be reached by car or by train, from Malaga centre.
The natural park comprises 2,016 hectares of protected areas. There are three artificial lakes created by three different dams, from the Guadalhorce River and Desfiladero de los Gaitanes. In between, there are plenty of paths to walk in between the natural walls of the limestone mountains. You can choose between an easy walk among the river or lakeside, a walk up the mountain with a medium level of difficulty or professional rock climbing, if you have the equipment.
El Chorro receives adventure-seekers from all over the world looking for a rock climbing adventure; it is one of the most important spots in Europe with about 500 different climbing routes. The reason is not just the rock walls of over 300m high that make the scenery a Disneyland for climbers; rather it is the famous old catwalk in ruins, built on the mountain walls back in the beginning of the 19th century, called Caminito de Rey (The King’s Path).
Caminito de Rey is a catwalk hanging off sheer rock faces, up on the walls of the mountain. It owes its name to the fact that King Alfonso XIII actually walked along it in 1921 for the inauguration and it was used after that by construction workers carrying goods to the dam. The catwalk is officially closed to the public, as is an enormous danger to whoever tries to walk it, even with professional climbing equipment. Over the last years, six climbers have died trying to cross it. That makes it more “exciting” for adventure hunters from all over the world. If you don’t have the equipment, there are some tour companies that can take you there. Will you try it?
Few days ago a newspaper published that there are plans about starting this year (May, 2014) a program to restore the catwalk in order to make it a more secure tourist attraction. The plan is to set up wooden slats and glass panels, to conserve the main idea of the path.
For those not looking for a “lethal but exciting hike”, a good option is to walk up the mountain, there is no danger at all and it can be a nice day out for the whole family. You just need to take the road up at the right of the train station and follow the road.
It is important to mention that there is nothing but stones, dirt, the lake and plants in the park, therefore take all you may need for your day out: food, perhaps a sandwich and some fruit, water, essential first aid kit, comfortable shoes and clothes and some protection from the sun. During summer it is a great idea to bring your swimsuit too!
How to get there?
– By car from Malaga centre:
Head west onto the highway A-357, then take the A-343, followed by the A-6117. You will arrive in Álora, then just follow the signs to El Chorro.
– By train from Malaga:
Take the train in Malaga Maria Zambrano Station direction Ronda (get off in El Chorro).