THE LAKES OF ARDALES
are near the Caminito del Rey (El Chorro) and is a lovely place for a day of bathing. The official name is Embalses Guadalteba-Guadalhorce. There are three interconnected reservoirs at Ardales in the province of Málaga. One of the three Lakes lies completely on the territory of Ardales, the other two are partly on territory of Teba, Campillos and Antequera. The reservoirs are fed by the river Guadalhorce and Guadaltebe. The construction is completed in 1973. At Zona Recreativa La Isla, you can park your car. There are also pedalos with slide and surf boards for rent and there is a water peel island for the kids. Surrounded by powerful rocks you can have a nap, in the shade of the many trees, enjoy the clear water or have a picnic on one of the many picnic tables overlooking the Lake.
THE CAVE OF ARDALES
is a prehistoric site from the Paleolithic period located in the town of Ardales (Málaga), also known as the cave of Doña Trinidad Grund. The prestigious journal Science published in February 2018 that the cave paintings of the cave of Ardales, along with the caves of Maltravieso caves (Cáceres) and La Pasiega (Cantabria), would be the oldest artistic performances in the world, which more than 66,000 years old and allocated to the Neanderthals. There is also a museum.
most of the site still remains relatively untouched and undiscovered. Large sections of the mountainside haven’t been evacuated yet. Whether they will be in the future, is anyone’s guess. You can wander around and find caves that used to be dwellings and see structures that could have been watchtowers or part of the defensive walls. The area is also littered with old pottery and ceramics.
Some parts of the Bobastro ruins are closed to the public. If lucky, the guide will let you wander around on your own, or take you on a tour of them.
What is visible today (and part of the tour) are three large structures, the ruins of the Alcázar, a Muslim necropolis and most importantly, a Mozárabic church – the only one of its kind in the world.
The basilica-shaped church was carefully orientated towards the east and has a 9 by 10 metres floor divided into three naves – the one on the right is higher than the other two. The naves are separated by horseshoe arches, a couple of which have been preserved.
The effort that must have gone into creating these structures is just mind boggling. The whole complex was carved from rock.
The building of the structures and the defensive walls that surrounded them, involved each and everyone of the inhabitants. It is said, that every person had to pay a yearly fee of a carved slab of rock, something that must have taken months of hard labour. The dimensions of each slab were carefully measured and each one was added onto the defensive walls or used in construction.
CUEVA DE NERJA
The caves of Nerja, CUEVA DE NERJA was discovered in 1959. The underground passages are about 5 kilometres long and belong to the largest caves in Europe. They have been in the World Guinness Book of Records since 1989 because the largest underground pillar is also found here. They also accommodate the oldest Neanderthal cave paintings in the world.
EL TORCAL NATURAL RESERVE
El Paraje Natural de El Torcal, is one of the most beautiful and impressive geological natural parks of Andalusia. Because of the unique limestone formation, it almost gives a surreal and creepy feeling. The reserve is known for the most remarkable karst formations in Europe. El Torcal owes its unique appearance to the simultaneous operation of several factors, with the most important factor being the nature of the limestone itself.
The stone species from which El Torcal is built belongs to a series of sedimentary rock that originates from the Mesozoic era and consists mainly of carbonate. The carbonate-rich limestone rock easily dissolves in the unique microclimate of El Torcal. The upper Sierra de Torcal Mountains, captures more rainfall than the surrounding areas. In combination with the porous nature of the surrounding limestone, the region forms a perfect reservoir of underground rivers and a high water level. The source of one of the most important rivers of Antequera, Rio La Villa, is located just at the foot of the Sierra de Torcal.
Since 5500 BC people live in this area, from the Homo Neanderthals to the Homo Sapiens. The first proofs of human habitation are to be found in and around the Cueva del Toro: The various cave paintings, the remains at the Cancha de la Gotera and human remains that have been discovered. All point to a permanent settlement in the copper age-the period in which metal first appeared. This particular part of the Megalithic era is of particular importance to Antequera, which coincided with the construction of the Dolmen. The Romans left their traces by constructing roads leading to the mountain range. Remnants of this are still visible today around the Boca del Asno and the Puerto de las Escanuelas. The Boca del Asno played a particularly important role in later history during the battles between the Moors and the Christians.
Despite the harsh conditions and the relatively high altitude, the reserve has a wide variety of flora and fauna. Among the karst formations are lush, almost tropical valleys full of vegetation and full of life.
Taking a walk here is an unforgettable experience, almost a prehistoric experience. Children in particular have here the time of their lives. Every way you strike is an attack on your senses. The landscape, the vegetation, the sounds and smells, you can’t get enough of it. El Torcal is an authentic flower paradise. Spring is a fantastic time of year for a visit to the Torcal Nature reserve, flooded with wild flowers and full of life. The orchids are wonderful, with more than 30 identified species. The wild rose bushes and various types of blackberry bushes make the rock faces look like vertical gardens.
The visitor centre, is the starting point of every visit to the park. The large visitor centre has a restaurant, an exhibition area where fossils are on display and where audio visual presentations are regularly given on local geology, flora and fauna. The Screw, El Tornillo, is even a protected natural monument.
There are three routes through the nature reserve: a green, yellow and red route. The Red route (4.5 km) has limited access and can only be visited under the guidance of a guide, this is to protect the flora and fauna. Information about guides is provided by the visitor centre.
The green and yellow routes are accessible to everyone and can be visited without a guide. The green route is the easiest route, it is 1.5 km long and lasts about 30 minutes. The yellow route corresponds to the green route but also leads you along some spectacular parts of the park such as rocky labyrinths filled with vegetation. The yellow route is 3 km. Both routes start and end at the visitor centre and come along the lookout point ‘ Mirador Las Ventanillas ‘: A place where you have a beautiful view over the surrounding countryside. If it’s a clear day then you can see the Costa del Sol and even Africa.
The Astronomical Observatory Torcal (Observatorio Astronómico del Torcal (O.A.T.)) is located next to the visitor centre. It features some very powerful telescopes, lasers and even specialized solar telescopes. The best of all this: it is open to public. They organize different courses and regularly keep “A window to the Universe” evenings.
SIERRA DE LAS NIEVES NATURAL PARK
is about 20,000 hectares in size and is located in the middle of the province of Malaga, just 58 kilometres west of the capital. This biosphere reserve is bordered by both the Costa del Sol and the Ronda area. The name ‘ de las Nieves ‘, literally: from the snow, descends from the wells that you see in the mountains of the natural park. In the past, snow was preserved in the summer, which was then distributed again in the villages of the province. This natural park is full of secret spots, spectacular scenery and many other unique sights.
In the Lobo Park in Antequera, the natural social behaviour of wild canine is studied and give others the opportunity learn about their findings as well as conduct their own research work.
Their research is result-oriented and therefore they pass their findings on to the public.
Lobo Park will allow you to observe and understand the dynamics of a wolf pack – one of the most social and team-oriented animals on the planet.
The Lobo Park arranges guided tours for visitors in both English and Spanish. This is so that the visitors can obtain insights into how wolves behave in the real world. The Lobo Park is built to provide the wolves with an environment that resembles their natural habitat. This allows the wolves enough space to display their innate traits, as well as play and run around freely. The tours are designed so that this natural behaviour can be observed, and the fear that most people have of wolves is cut down notably.
The park offers fun and excitement to families, a day off and a day closer to nature. The spacious landscape provides a refreshing change to the visitors, who not only enjoy the wolf packs and their various play and hunt habits, but also enjoy a luxurious natural reserve. The tours are conducted by professionals who are well-aware of wolf psychology as well as of the different pack forces and vibes. It is educational as well as a way to relax.
More info on www.lobopark.com
LAGUNA DE FUENTE DE PIEDRA
The Fuente de Piedra Lagoon is the largest in Andalusia and offers a privileged environment for the reproduction of the pink flamingo, as well as being a wintering area and passage for many other birds. The nesting of the flamingo constitutes one of the most enriching phenomena of the annual cycle of this wetland.
Located in the northwest of the province of Malaga, Fuente de Piedra Lake lies between olive groves and cereal crops. It is six kilometres long, covering an area of almost 1,400 hectares. This makes it the largest wetland area in inland Andalusia, and one of the biggest in Spain.
The lake has shallow, salt water and is internationally recognised as home to the largest colony of flamingos on the Iberian Peninsula and the second largest in Europe. Up to 20,000 mating pairs of flamingos have been registered here. Early mornings in spring are the best time to see them. Every year, many participants come to help with the tagging of these birds. Furthermore, 170 other bird species come to this lake to nest, to make stops on their migratory routes or to spend the winter, especially water birds such as the white-headed duck, the grey heron and the slender-billed gull. There are various public hides on the lake that you can use for bird watching. Other good places to spot birds are the Las Vicarias Viewpoint and the Madriguera area.
This wetland is maintained with rainwater and the course of an underground aquifer, with beautiful landscapes on and around its water all year round. In summer, when other wetland areas are harder to find, this becomes a major feeding and nesting ground for bird life.
At Fuente de Piedra, cultivated fields alternate with unusual species because the terrain around the lake has a very high salt content. This type of vegetation is called halophyte and is perfectly adapted to the salt. It is very valuable from a botanical point of view. The salt content here led to large salt extraction pans being used on the lake from Roman times through to the 1950s. You can still see the remains of these facilities with dykes that were used to remove the water, encouraging the salt to crystallise. Nowadays these constructions are used by birds for nesting.
Paths and bridges run through the beautiful nature. Guided tours are possible starting from the visitors centre.
DESEMBOCADURA DEL GUADALHORCE
The Guadalhorce Mouth Natural Park is formed by a complex of unnatural lagoons, the result of a past extractive activity of aggregates that generated excavations currently full of brackish or fresh waters depending on their location. These lagoons, surrounded by the two arms of the river Guadalhorce that form the mouth, are located in what was once a huge marsh, where the sea and the riverbed converged, originating extensive marshy lands in a delta that has grown over the centuries due to the alluvial deposit of materials washed away by the Guadalhorce.
The space has a high ornithological value, as it is one of the most important stopover and resting points in the province and in the region for coastal migratory birds. Among the most relevant species that can be found throughout the year, depending on the season in which we are, the ospreys and carriage eagles, the kingfisher, the pink flamingo, the spoonbill, the black stork, the audouin’s gull and the red-billed flock, in addition to other more common ones such as terns, coots or egrets. It is also possible to easily observe different species of ducks, the most notable representative of which is the white-headed duck, visible throughout the year.
The vegetation of the place is associated with different environments, where the presence of water and salt are relevant in their disposition and richness. The sands of the beach are home to plants that are extremely adapted to this inhospitable environment, such as the sea caterpillar or the spiky barb. The areas reached by the tides are populated with almajos and castanets, adapted to high salinity, and as riparian forest formations the tarajales predominate, sometimes associated with patches of reed and reed beds.
The natural area is not only relevant as a place of rest and protection for birds, it also constitutes a small green oasis next to the city of Malaga that allows the completion of the reproductive cycle of many species that do not have, in the vicinity, appropriate places to raise. One of the most interesting examples is that of the plover, because thanks to the habitat protection tasks that have been carried out in this protected natural area, it manages to find a small reserve in the sands of the beach to reproduce.
The visit can be done by following the two signposted trails Río Viejo and Laguna Grande, which will also allow us to access the five observatories that complement the offer of facilities. One of these observatories, the so-called seabird observatories, covers the maritime strip of the place and will be useful for observing birds linked to the sands of the beach and the sea; The rest of the observatories, located next to the different lagoons of the space, will be the most appropriate way to discover the rich birdlife that with patience, the help of binoculars and with the help of a good ornithological guide will make us spend a while of enjoyment , learning and communion with nature that we will surely not forget.
The stunning wooden bridge connects the west side of the city of Málaga with the Nature Reserve on the other side. Not only does the Bridge make it much easier to cross the river, it adds an architectural gem to the landscape.
Crafted in Asturias in the far north of Spain, the wooden walkway spans 270m across one tributary of the Guadalhorce river and its banks. It has 6 arcs supported by white pillars and goes gently up and down on its way across the river. The bridge is 4m wide and its design gives you a real feeling of space as you cross.