The Torcal de Antequera Natural Area is home to one of the most impressive areas of karst (limestone) landscapes anywhere in Europe. Its name comes from the dolines or "torcas", strange rock formations in the shape of circular depressions.
Limestone dominates at El Torcal. This rock is 150 million years old, formed by marine sediments that are highly susceptible to erosion. The slow but constant action of rain, snow and wind on this material gradually shaped this characteristic landscape. Its caves and fissures are the perfect environment for caving and potholing. Some of these caves, such as El Toro and La Marinaleda I, contain marks left behind by prehistoric man.
This area combines great beauty and a rugged appearance, and also contains rich, varied vegetation with some unique species. Here, holm oaks, Portuguese oaks, rowans and maple trees grow alongside plants adapted to living in fissures in the rocks. This is known as rupiculous vegetation, and the Torcal Bajo area is the perfect place to see it.
There is a wide variety of bird life, such as the griffon vulture and eagle owl, as well as mammals like foxes and weasels. Along with this Torcal Bajo area, there is the Ventanillas Viewpoint that looks out over the Campanillas River, offering beautiful views of the landscape and the village of Villanueva de la Concepción.
Routes of public use (Free visit)
The Torcal de Antequera Natural Park has a network of trails for public use that run through part of the natural area. The routes for public use are freely accessible, free and are marked so that anyone can travel without authorization.
It is recommended not to leave the marked trails, as it is a terrain where it is very easy to get disoriented. In addition, the terrain is very stony, irregular and extremely slippery with moisture.
It is also requested that the visitor has special consideration with the natural space that he visits: do not leave any residue either organic or inorganic, respect the native flora and fauna and any other element that belongs to the landscape (fossils, minerals, etc.).
The Natural Area is regulated by Law 2/1989, of July 18, which approves the inventory of protected natural areas of Andalusia and establishes additional measures for their protection. Environmental Agents will ensure compliance with the regulations.
It starts in the upper parking, sharing a route with yellow route until you reach the fork, which leads to the “Hoyo de la Burra”, an energetic area visited by many meditation lovers. At this point you will also join the Yellow Route again, beginning the return to the Visitor Center. It is a tour that allows to know the morphology of “El Torcal de Antequera” and to recognize some significant figures like the “Sphinx” or “the Indian”.
· Length: 1,50 km – circular
· Gradient: +40m
· Estimated duration: 45 minutes
· Land: very stony and irregular
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Circular tour of 3km. It starts in the upper parking and ends at the Visitor Center. The route crosses the Torcal Alto, a labyrinthine area where it is easy to be disoriented when leaving the signposted trail. The first and last section coincides with the Green Route. Once past the fork crossing of both routes, the Yellow Route goes into areas where it dominates the shade so they are more humid areas and with dense vegetation.
Several elements to highlight: from figures such as “El Dedo”, “El Camello”, “La Jarra” and “La Botella”, to arboreal specimens such as the Montpellier Maple, declared Singular Corner by ‘Diputación de Málaga’ and included in the Inventory of Unique Trees and Grove of Andalusia.
· Length: 3 km – circular
· Gradient: + 53m
· Estimated duration: 2 hours
· Land: very stony and irregular
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ROUTE TO RISE TORCAL ALTO OR “ORANGE”
Route to “Torcal Alto”. Start and end of the car parks, the lower parking, (which is next to the entrance of the Natural Park), and the upper parking (located next to the Visitor Center).
Starting in the lower car park, it crosses old canals and grass areas, such as “El Hoyo de Gramaeros”, to start the ascent to the “Mirador de Manuel Grajales” and the “Majada del Fraile”, where there is an old refuge of shepherds restored.
The ascent continues to overcome the “Port of Tinajuela” that passes from the “Cañada de Tosaires”, which ends at the Natural Monument “El Tornillo”.
The route begins to descend to finish in the upper parking.
· Length: 3,60km (just one way)
· Gradient: + 263m
· Estimated duration: 3,50 hours (back and forth)
· Land: very stony and irregular.
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TIPS AND ADVICES
It is necessary to use hiking boots, because the terrain is very stony and steep, as well as carrying enough water and food.
It is also important to take into account the altitude of “El Torcal de Antequera”, over 1200 m, this produce a significant drop in temperature compared to nearby towns such as Antequera or Malaga.
In addition, it is a mountain range with a typical mountain climate, strong North winds and dense fog. Therefore, it is advisable to wear enough warm clothing, raincoat or windbreaker, as well as cap and sun protection.
On the other hand, the Natural Reserve Torcal de Antequera is a protected natural area, we must remember that no residue should be left behind, or alter the environment in any of its forms (strident noises, collection of plants and fruits, plundering of minerals or fossils, etc…).
It is forbidden overnight parking for caravans and similar vehicles from sunset to sunrise
In the case of families with children and / or people with reduced mobility, there are short accessible paths around the Torcal Alto Visitor Center.