Las Chappas, Caminito Del Rey and El Torcal
27th – 29th January 2017
Our week of partying with the pensioners had taken it’s toll and we were well and truly in need of a rest, so after seeing them off mid-afternoon we returned to the aire a la Cala to use the services then headed back to a quiet beachside spot in Las Chappas. Although we were blessed by beautiful blue sunny skies the wind was still strong and sharp making it feel somewhat cooler than the 15-16 degrees forecast. Our evening was spent chilling and detoxing both our bodies and our minds. By 10pm we couldn’t stifle the yawns any longer, our lovely comfortable bed was calling! Us youngsters just can’t take the pace!
Relaxing and watching the sunset over the sea
After a week of not doing much exercise other than walking the following day I went out for a morning run followed by a workout with our resistance bands. After showers and breakfast we decided on a walk along the beach to Cabapino, where we stopped off for a coffee at one of the beach bars and watched the world go by. We took a slow stroll back for lunch and spent the rest of the day recuperating further by just reading and catching up on chores.
It seems this beautiful spot is becoming more well-known though as by Sunday there were around 15 motorhomes parked up. We were sandwiched between two other English vans and found out through chatting that one of them had met our friends Julie and Ian and Dave and Anne-Marie when staying in Benalmadena last year. Having already crossed paths with 4 other people we met whilst travelling last year it would appear that if we do this for enough years we may get to know a whole new family!
30th January – 2nd February 2017
By the Monday we were ready to move on, although it’s a beautiful peaceful spot which did the trick of making us relax for the weekend, we both agreed that we prefer to be somewhere with a little more to do nearby. Our next planned stop was to head for Caminito Del Rey a huge gorge up in the mountains. After a detour for services and gas, we headed for the hills, having chatted to some others at Las Chappas that had recently been there we were advised to head for Alora and to park there. Unfortunately though it appeared they had got a little confused with their towns in the area that began we “A” and we should have be heading in the direction of Ardales. After our detour and about turn we backtracked and made it to Ardales parking up and investigating on foot. It didn’t seem right though as we were still some distance from the Caminito entrance. They had told us though that the parking was near to El Kioski restaurant so now I had some 3G signal I quickly googled to find it. We were definitely not yet in the right place, with Paul getting a little frustrated we set off again eventually finding the restaurant and a perfect parking spot (GPS 36.931708 -4.80246) right next to the beautiful dam.
The sun setting over the dam next to our parking spot
Arriving on a Monday when the Caminito is closed we went to ask our Swedish neighbours (Monica and Hans) if they thought we needed to pre-book to do the gorge walk the following day, fortunately they had been and found out earlier that day and said that if we went with them the following day at 9am we wouldn’t need to pre-book on line. With that sorted we went out for a stroll to stretch our legs and got chatting to some more motorhomers Beni and Sharon who also decided to join us the following morning.
Over the years many people of risked or even lost their lives walking the Caminito Del Rey in previous years the path in places was not much wider than a steel beam positioned some 350 feet above the raging river below. Although the path was closed a few years back it didn’t stop adrenaline junkies getting their fix by trying it out, so in 2015 a new walkway was completed which in perched just above the crumbling old path which can clearly be seen through the wooden slats.
The old pathway at Caminito Del Rey – Yikes
The question is would we have walked it without the new safe walk way, the answer having seen it is “not on your nelly”. Just looking at the hazardous old path full of holes and barely clinging to the rock face sent shivers down my spine. If the sheer drop wasn’t enough to put you off the way the wind whistles through the huge void space of the gorge would have been enough warning to keep us away. With the new path in place though we got to enjoy this magnificent natural spectacle first hand. Walking the entire length involves a 2.7km walk to get to the start followed by a 7.9km walk along the trail.
The breathtaking Caminito Del Rey
They have sensibly made it a one way system too which means there is no danger of having to stand close to the edge to pass on comers. As we traversed through the gaitnes gorge, the views were just breath-taking. Although now a very safe barried pathway allows anyone who is not scared of heights to enjoy this stunning environment, there are some sobering reminders along the way where plaques of remembrance for some that have lost their lives in past endeavours when the path way certainly wouldn’t have been for the faint hearted. Apparently costing in the region of 3.2 million euros to build the new walkway the 10 euro charge for walking it seems very reasonable. The adventurous spirit hasn’t been culled entirely from the area though as it’s still a popular place for climbers and abseilers who want to get their fix. We saw some in action along the way and even just watching was enough to regurgitate your breakfast.
Adrenalin Junkies getting their fix
After a coffee with our fellow hikers we all went our separate ways, however as ourselves and Beny & Sharon both decided to stay there another night we arranged to meet for dinner than evening. We were all a little concerned about the vast menu on offer at El Kioski as we were the only diners that evening and when the food arrived we were right to be as it was all just about passable.
A well earned coffee break with our fellow hikers
With the sunny mountain weather set to continue the following day we decided to head up to El Torcal national park (GPS 36.953426 -4.544205) a fascinating area of rock formations. The Jurassic age limestone formations which were formally under the sea have been left with fractures and cracks at right angles, together with erosion they now make a layered spectacle. There are two marked walks one a 45 minute walk the other a 2 hour one, we opted for the latter not realising that although the trail was marked it wasn’t an actual path and involved several areas of climbing up or down rocks made super slippery by the damp surface. It seems that our Solomon walking boots although a ski brand are not that good in the wet and mud! We made it round though and the views were certainly worth the muddy climb.
The strange rock formations at El Torcal
After lunch we made our way back down to Antequera a historical Spanish town at the foot of the mountains. With Dolmen caves, roman baths and a Moorish castle we would have liked to have spent a little more time here but we’d arranged to meet up with a friend on the coast the following day so have put it on the list of places to come back to next time. Having parked up on the free aire GPS 37.021414 -4.571913) we took advantage of the services then went into town in search of wifi to catch up on uploading the blog amongst other things. We were heading for McDonalds but happened upon a bar on route so with beer in hand we were able to spend a few hours updating all our techie stuff. It seemed we timed our departure well as the next day we awoke to rain, the forecast on the coast was also wet today, but we can’t complain it’s going to be blowing over by tomorrow.
The coast in Spain is beautiful, but the mountains are simply stunning.
More adventures coming soon. Love Andi & Paul