Deep in the heart of the Málaga province of Spain between a village called Villanueva de la Concepción and the town of Antequera, is an area of absolute outstanding beauty called El Torcal.
El Torcal contains some of the most beautiful and impressive limestone landscapes in Europe. The whole area was under water until one hundred million years ago when violent movements of the Earth’s crust forced the land upwards to form the limestone hills and mountains. The limestone has kept its layered horizontal formation and over the millions of years, aeolian and alluvial erosion (wind & rain) have created the incredible shapes you can see today.
Once you have arrived at the parking area and information centre, you have a choice of three routes or senderos through the park that have each been marked out with different coloured arrows on wooden posts. The green route is the shortest and easiest and takes about 30 minutes or two hours with a camera! The yellow route covers most of the green area and is about 2.5 km. long. This route takes you to “Las Ventanillas” (The Windows) for panoramic views of the valley of Málaga. Finally the red route which is the longest and most difficult is about 4.5 km. long so prepare for a long day out! At the viewing point at the top of this route, you can see the whole of the El Torcal Park and the Africa Coastline.
El Torcal is not without wildlife and apart from several species of birds zipping around all over the place there are many families of the Iberian wild goat, a species of Ibex known as the “Spanish ibex”.
The Spanish ibex populates the Iberian Peninsula and consisted originally of four subspecies. However with recent extinctions occurring within the last century, only two of the subspecies still exist. These two subspecies of ibex, the Capra pyrenaica hispanica, which I think is the one depicted and the Capra pyrenaica victoriae, can be found along the Spanish Iberian Peninsula and have even migrated and settled into the coast of Portugal.
Spanish ibex are strong mountainous animals characterised by their large and flexible hooves and short legs. This allows them to run and leap on bare, rocky, rough and steep slopes and gives them an advantage over potential predators that possibly cannot reach them because of the terrain. The males are greater in size and have larger horns.
You need good walking shoes or trainers, a bottle of water and some sort of cover up equally in cold & warm weather!
So summing up, a visit to El Torcal comes highly recommended and if you are looking for an excellent wildlife photographer tour guide, look no further than my friend Geoff Simpson who is local to this area and can show you some truly wonderful things. You can contact Geoff through his Visionwild blog.