If there was one word that could sum up this weekend’s mini travel adventure to El Chorro, it would be ‘wow’! El Chorro, known as Malaga’s Lake District, is an area of outstanding natural beauty and a popular climbing and outdoor adventure destination in Spain.
There are three large aquamarine lakes with a massive damn separating them. I have never seen water so inviting as in El Chorro. There are recreational areas that you can rent kayaks, stand-up paddle boards or simply go for a swim in the turquoise waters.
With such hot weather I couldn’t think of anything better….except maybe for checking out the massive array of climbing crags in the area!
For its apparent remoteness, the area is actually pretty accessible. It has a regular fast train service from Malaga Maria Zambrano train station and takes a mere 47 minutes to El Chorro. The cost of the ticket is pittance at €6.50 each way, considering the sheer range of outdoor adventure activities it has to offer once you get there.
When I got to The Olive Branch B&B I was instantly made feel at home. I was picked up from the train station by Gary, one of the owners and incredible story teller – the other being his very lovely wife, Mel. I was shown to by dorm room…which I had all to myself plus my very own kitchen, sitting room and bathroom!
In a twist of irony, it’s El Chorro’s low season at the moment whereas in the coastal towns it’s just getting heating up – in every sense of the word! El Chorro mainly attracts climbers, hikers and mountain bikers.
During the summer months it gets ferociously hot and really only leaves the shaded climbing crags as an option. Even then it’s pretty toasty!
From October through to the beginning of April is El Chorro’s high season, attracting climbers from all over the world. The cooler weather, sunny disposition and ridiculous amount of quality climbing crags makes this place a climbing mecca!
As a total dog lover, I was instantly overjoyed upon meeting the three rescue dogs Mel and Gary own – Sami, Patata and Nala. Now, usually I’m really not a fan of tiny dogs, especially Chihuahuas but this little dude completely changed my opinion of them. He was so full of character and wasn’t as yappy as I ignorantly deem them to be. He was my little buddy for the weekend.
Aside from the animals, I also met a few climbers in the common room and ended up going to one of the few shaded climbing crags in El Chorro, Desplomilandia with them. I haven’t been climbing on rock in over a year so I’m well out of shape – struggling on a 6a!!
On the drive there we passed some of the most scenic views I’ve ever seen…and I’ve seen many! The towering limestone cliffs and fascinating rock formations jutting out of the aquamarine pools were just unbelievable.
We passed the famous Caminito del Rey that used to be one of the most dangerous pathways in the world until the government took all the fun out of it and made it ‘safe’. I jest a little.
It’s a good thing really. It brings a lot of money to the local economy, as it now charges to walk across the new safe walk way. It just takes away the thrill of being part of a few who have the means to get to cross it using ropes.
Anyways, back to climbing – the guys were taking on and succeeding with their 7C+’s and 8a’s!! I felt so out of shape, but if anything, I took it all in as inspiration. I also enjoyed feeling ‘pumped’ again…mostly caused from bad technique I’m sure.
It’s great feeling post-climb ache again. Even today, two days later I sit here barely able to raise my hands above my head or clench my fists tightly without feeling a burn. I LOVE IT!!!
There’s a very lovely girl called Hannah, who is working at the hostel for the next while doing odd jobs. She’s a bomber climber and luckily patient enough to allow me struggle up the easier routes in exchange for some return belaying on the harder stuff for her.
Fingers crossed (that particular movement hurts me at the present moment) we will get out climbing together loads over the summer. I’m determined to regain climbing strength and improve as much as I can. If anything, just watching Hannah climb I feel like I’m improving!! She’s some climber.
So, that was saturday afternoon…a late start after a few too many glasses of red wine the night before with Mel, Gary and their very lovely son in one of the local restaurants. After climbing we drove to Alaró to get some supplies from the nearest large supermarket.
We all started making our dinners. I could see the sun starting to dip on the horizon and feeling restless, I scrambled up the limestone mountain behind the hostel to get a better view.
I realised as I ascended that it probably wasn’t the best idea to continue…by myself, with no ropes. I foresaw myself scrambling to the top alright but struggling to get back down…so I retreated and found an easier path back down.
Despite the hour, I was beading sweat from my little excursion up the rock so I knocked back some water and decided to have a wee chill out in one of the hammocks around the hostel. So nice. Then had an early night and hit the hay.
On Sunday I bowed out of climbing, knowing how much the others wanted to work on their 8a projects. I felt like I might hold them back a bit. Plus I was dying to check out some of the mountain biking trails around.
I walked down to another guesthouse down the road and rented a fairly decent Marin hardtail for €12 for the day. It came with full repair kit, a map and a helmet. Only problem was that for some reason it had a different and more narrow tyre on the back, which just made me skid all over the place with any speed (that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!)
Anyways, I free styled it and headed to the national park up the road. I’d heard there were some mountain bike trails up there. I found myself on this sort of fire track road that just went up and up and up. I was knackered.
I’m not gonna lie, I may have walked up some of it. The ascent was just relentless and in reality probably far too hot to be doing that much exertion. But what goes up must come down. The decent was fun and over far too quick!
It was really nice though, despite the heat, the flies and the constant uphill. I saw what I think were wild Chamois up the top of another little scramble I decided to do up there, which was really cool. They watched me until I got too close for their comfort and they ran off.
I looked at my watch. Time to return. I flew back down the mountain (by fly I mean, cycled briskly) and returned the rental bike. I jumped into my bikini and made a bee-line, first for a shower (very dusty) and then straight into the pool…oh yea, they have a pool!
Had a chill out there, read my book then got ready to go. Mel dropped me to the train station and hugged me goodbye. I’ll be back for sure. I’m dying to get back out climbing and start tackling some of the harder stuff.
But for now, I’m back in Velez-Malaga, spending my days writing website content and travel articles and planning my next Spanish adventure!!!
For anyone who is looking for a good adventure destination, I can’t recommend El Chorro enough. I’m going to be heading back there again soon and hope to do a nice piece on the The Olive Branch B&B, where I stayed. I was made feel so welcomed and I want to pass that all on so others can enjoy.
If you’re looking for a climbing destination, El Chorro is your place. I’ve never seen so many climbing crags…of all grades…in such a small area. Just amazing!
#Climbing #climbinginSpain #ElChorro #adventuretravel #adventuredestination