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Day Trip to El Chorro
The town of Ardales is located about 51 km northwest of Malaga on the A357 road. Very near the town (about 10 km) is the Guadalhorce Dam and its reservoir. The dam was built and finished by Rafael Benjumea, a very prominent architect, in 1921. King Alfonso XIII inaugurated the dam and rewarded Benjumea by giving him the title of Count of Guadalhorce. The reservoir was a very important source of water for the city of Malaga at that time, and it still is. At first it was called the Pantano del Chorro (Chorro Dam), but later it was called the Embalse del Conde de Guadalhorce (Dam of the Count of Guadalhorce). The whole area is still called by Malagueños as El Chorro.
There are two other major dams and reservoirs nearby. The Embalse Guadalhorce was finished in 1966. The other dam was the Embalse Guadalteba, also finished in 1966. The waters of these two dams are joined in the Embalse de Gaitanejo, before the water goes to the Desfiladero de los Gaitanes (the Gorge of the Bagpipers).
There is an extremely dangerous path along the face of the gorge called El Caminito del Rey (King's little path), which was opened by King Alfonso XIII. Several people have died walking on this path that is 100 meters above the river because of its poor condition, falling off the cliffs, so the path has been closed by the authorities. However there are plans by the government to improve the path and reopen it in the future to make it a safe tourist attraction.
The path is now open, bookings are compulsory to gain access currently. It is free at the moment but there are plans to charge in the future. It is a "linear" walk so you need to get a bus back to your original start point. These are Ardales or Alora, buses run hourley through Tuesday to Friday and half hourly Sat/Sun (closed Monday) Well worth doing the walk.
There is a railroad line that was used in the 1965 film "Von Ryan's Express". There is also a hydroelectric station called Nuevo Chorro.
The whole area is very scenic and in many places it is heavily wooded with pines and with plenty of wildlife. At the Count of Guadalhorce Dam one can see the House of the Count in the background. This was built by Benjumea for himself and his heirs, but this house is not open to the public. There is a three star hotel called La Posada del Conde nearby where tourists can rest and enjoy nature. Close to the dam is also a chapel and there are about 4 restaurants in the area. People can go boating and fishing in the reservoirs, and there is a campground nearby. This is one of the most picturesque landscapes in the province of Malaga, with its three spectacular turquoise lakes. It has been best to visit this area using a car because of scant public transportation, but recently a direct train service from Malaga has started, taking 40 minutes and operating 2 to 3 journeys a day. This has made it a much easier day trip using public transport.
The same location in 2005 with much lower water levels
Some other photos from the area (again all from 2005)