El Torcal in Antequera, Spain

I am constantly impressed with the variety of interesting places to visit in southern Spain. This past weekend we took a day trip out to the amazing Torcal.

The El Torcal Nature Reserve is located about 30km north of Malaga, near the city of Antequera. Once you arrive to the small town of Villanueva de la Concepcion, you continue on — up, up, up the winding, twisting road to some 1,300 meters above sea level, where one finds the entrance of the 17 square kilometer natural reserve. Over the years, the erosion from the wind and rain have created some spectacular shapes, formations and landscapes within this ocean of limestone. (Be sure to walk through the photo gallery below!)

The park used to offer four hiking trails, but in the interest of preservation, only two are now offered — the “green” trail, and the “yellow” trail. Our group opted for the yellow trail, a circular route of 3 km, perfect for a half-day out hiking with small kids. The trail, well marked with sign posts, snaked its way through the rocky labyrinth. Walking through the odd rocky formations gave me the impression of exploring another planet.

It took a long time to get through the 3 kilometers, mainly due to the fact that for the kids, this place looked like one gigantic playground, where everything in sight needs to be climbed and conquered. We also stopped about three times for water and snacks. Senderitos.com is a website run by a guy from Malaga named Luis, dedicated to the organization of outdoor activities suitable for families with small children. A public forum on the site creates a virtual community, where people swap stories, ideas, and general get to know each other. Except for the hottest months of the year, the group gets together each weekend for an outing. This week’s hike at El Torcal was the first of the season, and we look forward to getting involved regularly with this group.

As usual, I snapped some photos, so be sure to check them out in the photo gallery.

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