This location is still unique!
The Caminito del Rey was kind of my nemesis as I have vertigo and I really want to get rid of it.
I had to wait early in the morning because I didn’t reserve a ticket online.
If you get in, you’ll get one of those funny hats. No, it’s a pity, but you can’t keep it.
It starts very smoothly in a wonderful landscape with a turquoise river streaming through, but very quickly it gets kind of uuuuaaaah!!!
When you have passed the first gorge you come to an enchanted valley:
Just until you pass the second gorge:
This bridge you see in the picture is the old bridge. Behind it you can see a – in my eyes – very, very tiny and instable rope bridge. There was a lot of wind and I’m very thankful to the guy who lend me his arm to get me over to the other side.
Yes! I did it! I’m very proud (: And now: Breakfast.
I don’t know if it was the right Sendero Gaitanejo but I saw a lot of signs during my hike. I particularly loved the enchanted section next to river and the view from above on the Caminito del Rey.
On the Sendero Gaitanejo I met the Vergers with their son Matthieu from France. What a nice and funny family! I had a wonderful evening with them 🙂
Changing the hike
From the beginning nothing went like I imagined it would. On the one hand this is disturbing and makes me kind of nervous in the moment of desaster but on the other hand I got to know again, that nearly every kind of situation can be handled and for every door which is closing another one opens up.
Today I went to the mountains without my big backpack because I was able to leave most of my stuff on the camping area.
What a relief! Despite having packed nearly “ultralight”, I must admit that ultralight is not enough. Six kilos + two liters of water and some food makes it at least 8,5 kilos.
Walking and nearly bouncing I came to the result, that I won’t do it again. Those three things are definitely not working together:
As for this hike I can only change one of them I will look for a place to stay for the rest of my time in Andalusia and do some hikes starting from there.
The hike today
After a short walk on the road you enter a dirt road and just until the descent on El Chorro it will stay like that. You’ll hike through a diverse natural and agricultural landscape and the panoramic mountain views are wonderful. There is a short stretch of road again where you can visit Bobastro, an archaeological site of a mozarabic town. It’s a quite big area, so you really have to be interested to do it.
Andalusias hidden lakes
After the road stretch you enter a nice and shady forest. So many lakes and I only saw them on my map but not in reality! La Laguna de Pietra, la Laguna Dulce and now the Embalse Superior Taja de la Encantada. I was just next to it, I saw it on my map but all I really saw, was a giant wall next to me. The scenery looked a little bit like in one of those sci-fi movies where there is another parallel world behind a big insuperable wall. At one moment there is a small trail leading 30m uphill and I went to see the barrier lake behind the wall.
Next to this “bad” world nature seamed still more natural and enchanted. Above all because I was in a little quite forest and when I went around a corner I stood right in front of a kind of capricorn-deer (big as a deer, face like a deer, corns like a capricorn) who was as surprised as I was and disappeared quietly and without panic between the backlighted trees. Magic happens.
The descent on El Chorro is a little challenge due to plants growing over the trail and the trail being rough and quite close to the abyss.
In El Chorro I had something to eat in the restaurant La Garganta, as in the bar and the supermarket on the camping area there is a strict no-vitamins policy, and I went back by bus.
As it was already seven o’clock I was the only passenger and the bus driver let me out at the camping area.
The base of Maslow:
- There is no accessible water on the road. Anyway: You will pass by a lot of fincas and if you have an water emergency you can surely solve it by knocking on some doors
- I didn’t meet any dogs without bars between me and them on this stage.
- In El Chorro you’ll find some, maybe expensive possibilities to stay at night. Or you go by bus (every 30 minutes until 7 pm) to Camping Parque Ardales, like I did.
The following night was a nightmare. My tarptent notch is good for every weather except of sandstorms. I woke myself up covered in sand. I had it in my eyes, my ears and between my teeth. Yummy.
As the following night will be as stormy as the last one I booked a bungalow and will have a big nights sleep today.
This is the fucking Meseta!
This is all I thought during the hike. When I thought that it can’t get more desert-like I looked around the corner and it was more yellow again. Even the plants got more and more hostile and showed up their thornes.
While visually, as shown on the pictures, it was gorgeous, vast and colorful. An ocean of wheat.
Entering “friendly” Campillos:
The base of Maslow
- All the water I saw was stinky and dirty (turtles seam to like that)
- The lakes which you can see on your map are not accessible
- There is a hostel (San Francisco) in Campillos with a very gentle hostess. She ordered a taxi for me, while the lady in the bar on the central plaza shouted at me saying: “This is a village! There are no taxis in villages!”
I continued (by taxi) to the wonderful Camping Parque Ardales:
A desert in three colors – The hike I started to walk from the road south of Alameda and hiked on dirt roads all the time. The area is quite flat and changes gradually its face. I “saw” some strange animals today, small and black and they live in little dirt caves next to the […]
Due to my feet I had to stop for two days and beautiful Antequera gave me a perfect reason to do so.
They have some weird Saints there:
The story of the “Peña de los Enamorados”, Lovers’ Rock, is as good as Romeo and Juliet. A Muslim girl and her father’s Christian slave, endlessly in love, threw themselves down because their families didn’t accept their amour fou.
Placa de los toros:
This is the view from my room. Every morning I salute the people from my balcony:
It’s all Maslows’ fault
I wasn’t able think of something philosophical today because someone put my blistered feet into burning boots and I was only able to walk because of severe “everything is alright“ meditation.
Could you please make a photo which doesn’t look like a postcard?
Perfect light, perfect landscape. I feel like Heidi in Heidiland. If I could only jump around! Again, there is buzzing everywhere. At the end of the stage, between Alfarnetejo and Alfarnate passing along a small river I heard four or five big plopping sounds like if a crocodile slips into the water. I the beginning I just saw some shadows under water. I stood there for a while in silence and was very surprised to see some small turtles playing in the intransparent and muddy brew.
Doggies, dogs and doggos
I love dogs but what I saw today made me really angry. Frequently the dogs are left on a property to sentinel it. Mostly they are unleashed and you never know if they are well educated or not. I had a lot of adrenaline coming up because of them. I wear a very loud pipe around me neck. That helps , I‘m knocking on wood, if nothing else does.
It starts out on a road with little but dangerous traffic but changes soon into a dirt road without any traffic. Most of the trail is dirt road again and again there is very little shadow which led to a mild sunstroke in the evening despite of wearing a headscarf, 50 sunscreen and a big thin scarf over all my body. Call me the hiking ghost.
The trail highlights were a very overgrown piece of trail where I literally walked on flowers (ca. km 5), a small beautiful river (ca. km 9), a forest (ca. km 11, Shade! Finally!), a catholic procession for holy Isidro in Alfarnetejo, the turtles just before Alfarnate and a flock of goats being brought to their stable in Alfarnate.
Base of Maslow:
- There is water in the small river ca. at km 9 and km 11. I would chose to take it downstream at km 9, it looks better, it‘s far away from a city and there are small fish in it. Of course there is water in Alfarnetejo and Alfarnate. But there is beer too.
- There are no possibilities to sleep in a hotel or something similar in Alfarnate.
- Beware of dogs!
Yeah! This stage of the Gran Senda matched perfectly with my current status. My office legs hurt like hell and my feet are just getting used to work and walk. I choose the Gran Senda because I didn’t wanted to struggle again with horrendous climbs and crushed rock all day long like on the GR 221. I just want to walk! On the other hand: I love to be in the mountains. Why can’t I have both? With this in mind I skipped the mountain stages and went directly to Periana. And it was a very good decision.
It was a buzzing stage. Everywhere around me where bees, butterflies and other strange insects. I saw horses, sheep, goats, millions of different birds, squirrels, mice and lizards. And flowers! Spring kicked in like if there were a crazy beauty contest.
Compared to Nerja-Frigiliana it’s a very comfortable stage. Mostly dirtroads and even a village with a restaurant in the middle. If it’s like today 28C the only thing my thing missing is shadow. There is water to buy in Guaro, in Cortijo de Zapata you’ll find an outdoor tap and several other springs, at least there was plenty of water when I passed today.
At the house of Mirador del Tramo I was stopped by three dogs. I consider myself a dog whisperer but one of them went more and more crazy and I wasn’t able to calm him down. He finally bared his teeth so badly that I decided to take a walk around. Some 50 meters from the house and parallel to the trail there are some olive tree fields which are easy to cross and around 300 meters later I was able to join the trail again.
Fear Is A Man-made Prison
I had this strange feelings in the last days. Not being prepared was one of them. And not being prepared could mean a lot. When I’m thinking of my tantalized feet and of all the things I did to avoid this kind of pain I can not speak of not being prepared. It was nearly impossible to do more. And maybe I still took the wrong shoe decision. Or maybe my feet are just like that.
Where is the border between just being careful and not doing it?
I have to accept that not being prepared is a part of life and above all I have to set the border like I did it to do this journey and other things in my life in which I jumped in lion-heartedly, and which turned out to be some of my best achievements.
I started to take the bus to Nerja Cuevas. It would have been a 5km walk along the road and I don’t wanted to start my journey between stinking busses and trucks.
I crossed Rio Chillar without problems with my bathing shoes. The water was just underneath my knees, month of May, with some rain yesterday.
The big problem was finding the trail again on the opposite shore. There were even some scattered red and white trail signs but there was no direction indicated and every trail I took ended in a total desaster. Once I even started climbing (!) but luckily I pulled myself together and turned around. I learned something from last year. Later on I saw the end of the “only” 200m climbing section and was very very happy again.
The right thing to do is to follow a crossed (no-go) trail sign which you see from the shore and just on the right side of the forbidden trail is the normal trail. As I saw the cross from the shore I didn’t even think of this direction.
I’m using a downloaded trail from gpsies.com and the guy obviously took the climbing route.
More than one hour lost and looking like a cactus because of the undergrowth I continued on the right trail.
On my map it looked like I would have only one third of my hike left but this last piece of trail took me much longer than the first two thirds. A lot of ascents and descents mixed with crushed rocks and numerous spots where I had to use my hands led to myself being very happy when I finally saw Frigiliana.
With burning feet and knees I entered the village and took a room in the Hospederia el Caravansar. I took a shower and laid on the bed for one necessary hour. Than hunger kicked in and I had to get up.
During my wonderful meal I decided to skip the next three arduous segments.
Tomorrow morning there will be a Taxi coming to my hotel. Thank God I’m not a student anymore.