Desfiladero de los Gaitanes Natural Area
The Guadalhorce river has sliced through limestone to create a spectacular gorge 50km northwest of Malaga, the Desfiladero de los Gaitanes, otherwise known as the Garganta del Chorro. Its 4km length has sheer walls towering up to 400m in places, while its width is only 10m wide at certain points.
It also is famous for its walkway, the Caminito del Rey, a stomach-churning route through the gorge built between in the first five years of the 20th century as part of the hydroelectric plan that involved the construction of the Embalse de Guadalhorce (the Guadalhorce Reservoir) just north of the Chorro. The Camino del Rey (the Path of the King) was named after a visit to the Chorro in 1921 by the then king, King Alfonso XIII, to inaugurate the reservoir. The path runs for 7km from the Salto del Chorro to the Salto del Gaitanejo. Once in a dangerous state of disrepair, it was re-constructed and re-opened in March 2015 and is one of Malaga favourite atractions. Dont miss it,
Given its vertical walls, the area is a popular spot with climbers. The Embalse de Guadalhorce is a good place for swimming and a picnic.
From Malaga, take the A-357 to Ardales, from where the MA-444 goes to El Chorro.
As the Camino del Rey has fallen into a dangerous state of disrepair, your best bet for viewing the gorge, albeit briefly, is by taking a train north from Malaga, since the railway line passes through the gorge (some of it through tunnels).
There are a few places to stay in the village of El Chorro or Ardales or Alora.
Camping El Chorro is the closest campsite to the Desfiladero, located in the small village of El Chorro next to the train station. It was closed in spring 2015
Camping Parque Ardales is on the shores of Guadalhorce Reservoir.
Finca La Campana in El Chorro has chalets to rent and a campsite, with rock climbing, mountain biking and caving available.
Aleppo pines, wild olive trees, junipers and holm oaks are the main trees on the hills either side of the gorge, with an undergrowth of rosemary, rock roses, dwarf fan palms, thyme and lentisc. Closer to the river are rushes, reeds, tamarisk and oleander, as well as poplar, willow and eucalyptus trees.
Wheeling around in the sky above the high gorge walls are Egyptian vultures, Bonelli's and golden eagles, common kestrels, peregrines and griffon vultures, which also nest here. There are also red-billed choughs, crag martins, blue rock thrushes and crested tits, as well as numerous swifts in spring and summer.
Spanish ibex inhabit the more inaccessible parts of the gorge.