El Chorro is an hour or so’s drive north of Malaga, set in the hills of the Sierra de Huma and the Desfiladero de los Gitanes national park (meaning Gorge of the Gypsies). It’s a village but not one with much life other than the climbing tourists that come year round to scale the huge vertical walls of the Sierra de Huma. A few particularly intrepid climbings used to walk along the Caminito del Rey, a path halfway up the walls that was closed by the Spanish government as being too dangerous (the pictures on that blog are amazing). This incredible video shows why….
(do not watch if scared of heights!) It’s different now – the Andalucian government has invested time and money into restoring the old path and making it safe to walk on again and it is now open to the public. I am desperate to do it… no climbing skills are needed but you do need to be fit and to book ahead, and sadly, just a few days after it was opened again, it was fully booked up to the end of June! I definitely intend to book ahead and return at some point…. So we weren’t doing the Caminito del Rey walk, sadly. But on one of our cycling rest days we did decide to go for a walk in the Sierra de Huma. We drove down the horrendously steep hill that had been the bane of my cycling existence and parked the car in El Chorro – basically a train station and a car park with a few run down bars and hotels. We parked up the car and walked through the “village”, after about two minutes coming out into a forested area climbing up a steep slope away from the river. It was super-windy so we were happy to be in the trees, out of the wind, but soon became slightly bored just walking up and up a wide track (cars could drive up it) with only views every few turns. We came to a ridge where we could either turn left and continue walking up, go straight on around the back of the mountain, or go down the other side. A sign marked the way of a trail straight on … James looked it up on google only to find it was a walking trail all the way to Malaga over 60km away! We decided not to go that way and headed further uphill, still surrounded by pine trees. Eventually we came out onto a wide, grassy, flatter section with wheat growing, before the cliffs dropped away to the El Chorro gorge. I couldn’t imagine why somebody had decided to put a wheat field all the way up here! But the views were incredible. However, James had his eyes set on something else…. Yep, the wall of rock to our right. I spotted what looked like it could be a way up and we made our way over to it. It was marked by cairns – small piles of stones and so we knew we were on a path. We just went from cairn to cairn, taking a breather at each as we looked around for the next one. It was real scrambling up the rocks stuff but the views were just incredible. Absolutely stunning. But also very windy, and there were some dark clouds rolling in from the horizon. We didn’t stay up at the top for too long as we were almost being blown off. We didn’t stay in El Chorro itself. As I said in my previous post on cycling in the area, we stayed at the Rocabella Villas, just up the hill from El Chorro and an easy 10 minute drive / cycle down and a horrendous cycle back up. We had a little, comfortable one bedroom apartment (they have other, bigger villas as well) with a private pool outdoors and a jacuzzi bath indoors, set up on top of the restaurant overlooking the valley. We kept our bikes in the apartment and loved having our own space to cook some nice Spanish meals, eat them with a glass or two of wine as we watched the sun set over the valley, and then curl up on the sofa and listen to the wind howling around us. I’d definitely recommend staying there if you are coming to the area!