The 2,016 hectare Desfiladero de los Gaitanes Natural Park has a unique natural setting and is an extraordinary site of geomorphological interest. Set in one of the most stunning locations in the province of Málaga, the famous El Chorro Gorge has been carved by the river Guadalhorce and is made up of Jurassic limestones and dolomites. The canyon is around three kilometers long and it’s walls reach dizzying heights of 300 meters narrowing to just 10 metres apart in places.
The rock here is of different origin and age and the river has carved and eroded fascinating geological formations, caves and chasms. There are over 20 caves in the area of great geological and archaeological significance, (In nearby Ardales, for example important paleolithic rock art can be seen with over 1,000 drawings in its more than 1,600 meters of galleries.
The terrain around the gorge at El Chorro and across to the reservoirs of Guadalhorce are protected natural areas and are covered in Aleppo pines, wild olive and holm oaks make up the backdrop on the hills either side of the gorge, with an undergrowth of rosemary, rock roses, dwarf fan palms, thyme and lentiscus. Closer to the river are rushes, reeds, tamarisk and oleander, as well as poplar, willow and eucalyptus trees.
The rare Bonelli’s and golden eagles are present though you need to keep your eyes to the skies to see them, The easiest bird to spot here is the ever present griffon vultures which are present all year round. There are also red-billed choughs, crag martins, blue rock thrushes and crested tits, as well as numerous swifts, swallows and house martins in spring and summer.
Spanish ibex can be seen peering down at you from the heights and other mammals present that you may see are badger, fox and red deer.
Because of the proximity to the now famous Caminito del Rey the area has become a very popular area for climbers with people coming from all over the world to sample the very difficult climbs and to “walk” the kings path. However, you don’t have to be a climber to visit and enjoy this beautiful area of Andalucia. There are some lovely walks along the river and of course the small village sitting on top of the Conde de Guadalhorce dam is fascinating and a great place to spend an afternoon exploring and sampling the local food.
Our recommended restaurant is the “Meson del Conde” adjacent to the beautiful boutique hotel Posada del Conde.
For wildlife and walking holidays in Spain check out Wildside Holidays: https://wildsideholidays.co.uk/