The Guadalhorce River Basin and El Chorro Gorge

Total length of the trip: 175km.

Malaga is left by the CN 402 in the direction of Alora. After 19km it approaches the Guadalhorce which it will follow as far as the reservoir.

Alora (40km from Malaga) lies on a rugged projection on the left of the road. A visit to the village, which, by the way, consists of a series of very steep slopes, is worth the travellers while for many reasons. The village spreads over a neighbouring hill, on which an old Moorish castle stands. The whitewashed streets are sometimes lined with lemon trees and converge on a square in the lowest part, over which a church towers. The power of this building is the backbone of the village. From there it is possible – on foot or by car – to climb to the castle where the cemetery of Alora is and from where there is a splendid panorama of the Guadalhorce river basin. Among the tombs there is a small Gothic chapel.

The road forks on the outskirts of Alora, but both branches lead to the same place: El Chorro gorge and Bobastro. The difference between them is considerable. The left hand road (the longer: 31km as far as Bobastro and a little more to El Chorro) passes through lonely countryside before reaching Carratracaz; that on the right hand is the more logical way if one does not mind omitting that lovely mountain village. The best solution is probably to go on one and return on the other.

El desfilader (ravine) de los Gaitanes lies at a distance of 20km from Alora. There, the Guadalhorce begins its journey towards the sea between two breathtaking rock walls which are 40m high at some points. Half way up one of the walls, there is a kind of footbridge called Camino del Rey (The Kings Walk), but it is not sure whether it is safe to sue. The road continues towards the Guadalhorce reservoir. After less than a kilometre, there are signposts for El Chorro and for Bobastro, an interesting Mozarab church hewn out of the rock.

Skirting the reservoir from there for a short time (the reservoir should always be on the right), Ardales is reached shortly afterwards. This is a small village surrounded by corn fields and olive groves.

Carratraca lies at a distance of 7km. It’s most outstanding feature is the old spa dating from 1847 and occupying a Neo-Classical building. The glazed tile patio with a pavilion in the centre still preserves unchanged all the 19C charm of this kind of establishment. It is only open in the summer. Near the spa there is the Town Hall occupying a Neo-Caliphal building with a more fantastic than historicist decoration.

There are only 18km left to be back in Alora.