There is a large collection of old tools and implements and quite a few information boards detailing the various engineering projects in the area including the famous train line and tunnels that were used for the filming of Von Ryans Express. The only issue is that all the info boards are in Spanish language.
It’s well worth a visit as the hotel restaurant is also open to the general public and serves fine traditional foods at very reasonable prices. All in all a great and fascinating way to while away an afternoon.
The project to design a “complete, successful tourism product” is certainly in full flow now
Works to be carried out in three phases after the opening of the remodelled Camino del Rey will include better access, parking, rest areas, tourist information centers and viewpoints.
The president of the Malaga council, Elijah Bendodo recently presented the project of the “Caminito del Rey” which has been agreed by the town halls of Ardales, Alora, Abdalajis and Antequera. The projects total cost is worth a cool 11,586,040 euros.
The project will be carried out in three phases with the restoration of the camino being the first with a budget of 2.24 million euros that should be completed by spring 2015.
The second phase of the plan includes works to upgrade roads, especially in the MA5403 (Ardales El Chorro) to allow easier access for buses and coaches. Park and ride facilities are also planned for the town of Alora and Ardales along with road signs and information boards. this part of the project will cost over 3 million euros.
The third phase with a budget of over 4 million euros will create the main visitor centre in El Chorro which will be located in the existing train station building. The name of the train station will be changed to “El Chorro – Caminito del Rey”. There is also talk of extending the existing footpath network and enhancing the existing paths with better signs and information boards.
With an estimated investment expected to exceed 5 million Euros the restoration of the Caminito del Rey seems to be on schedule and is due to open in January or February 2015. It is hoped that king Felipe of Spain, like his great grandfather Alfonso XIII will open the hanging footpath high above the Gaitanes Gorge. Once completed, the 6 kilometre path will take about an hour to walk.
The three Reservoirs known as Guadalhorce – Guadalteba are nestled in a stunning area of outstanding beauty close to El Chorro and the Camino del Rey and withing the boundaries of the Natural Park area called “Desfiladero de los Gaitanes”. The natural environment corresponds to the village of Ardales but only one of the reservoirs, the Conde de Guadalhorce, is in the municipality of Ardales. The two lakes are in the municipalities of Teba, Campillos and Antequera .
Conde de Guadalhorce Reservoir:
Construction began on this reservoir in the autumn of 1914 under the direction of the famous engineer Rafael Benjumea and was initially called Pantano del Chorro. It was completed in 1921 and inaugurated by King Alfonso XIII. It was at this time that the Caminito del Rey got it’s name as the king walked this pathway at the time. For some unknown reason, in 1953 the name of this reservoir was changed to Conde de Guadalhorce.
Guadalhorce – Guadalteba Reservoirs
Construction of these two new reservoirs began in the spring of 1966 and completed in 1971 and 1973 respectively. At the same time as building these dams, a new the railway line and three road sections were also constructed, as both a large stretch of the railway line and roads were flooded by the rising waters. Also, the residents of the village of Peñarrubia and its neighborhood, Gobantes (where the railway station was) were evicted and their homes lost under the water.
House of the Engineer and the Kings chair
One of the most iconic artifacts from the construction days of the reservoirs is the King’s Chair located just before the dam wall of the Conde de Guadalhorce. There is a chair and table carved out of stone and this is where King Alfonso XIII sat and signed the completion of construction document for the Conde de Guadalhorce reservoir.
From the Chair of the king, if you look to the other side of the reservoir, you can see the very impressive and grande chief engineers house or “Casa del Conde” which is closed to the public but would make an amazing place for a hotel, museum or even a house for me when I finally win the lottery! If you walk along the dam wall you will come to the small church which was also used as a school. A stroll across the dam is lovely and if you continue along a few hundred meters more you will come to the hotel and restaurant La Posada del Conde, a fantastic place to eat or stay for the weekend.
There are several signposted footpaths in the area where you can enjoy the wonderful pine forest scenery with interspersed eucalyptus,thyme,rosemary and broom …The biggest fish populations in the lakes are barbel and carp. Look out for Kingfishers, red billed chough, the ever present griffon vultures and if you are very lucky you might catch a glimpse of a European eagle owl. The mammals present in the area are Spanish Ibex, otter, rabbits, hairs and wild cat.
Another of the attractions of the reservoir is the “Mirador” or viewpoint located a little further up the hill from the restaurant “El Mirador”. From this point you get a bird’s eye view of the whole reservoir system and the panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.
If you really want peace and quiet, the best time to visit this area is during the week in spring and autumn as during the summer months and weekends the lakeside becomes full of people swimming and kayaking whilst the cliffs around the El Chorro and Camino del Rey areas are a haven all year round for climbers. That said you can visit this area at any time of year and you won’t be disappointing. It truly is a wonderful part of Andalucia and the construction of dams is quite remarkable.
Tourist information – Hotel booking – Activities – The Guadalhorce lakes.