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Routes & Birdwatching Sites

Routes & Birdwatching Sites

Great Malaga Path (GR 249). Stage 11. Alfarnate - Villanueva del Rosario

This stage reaches the highest altitude of all the 35 stages of the Great Malaga Path. It starts in a flat farmland area, climbs through scrubland which then turns into a quite dense formation of pine trees and holm oaks with some Portuguese gall oaks. Higher up you will be passing very close to large rocky outcrops. The downhill section leads through the Hondonero dehesa with maple trees and terebinth underneath the towering mountains. As you arrive in Villanueva del Rosario the surroundings abound with natural water springs. Consequently you will be able to see bird species typical of open spaces, mountains, woodland and rivers.


Highlighted Species

The beginning of Stage 11 constitutes cultivated areas where the predominant species are the White Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Crested Lark, Sky Lark, Goldfinch, Common Linnet, Serin and Greenfinch, however once you are on the uphill section leading to the copses of holm oak, species typical of scrub start occurring such as Red-legged Partridge, Common Stonechat, Common Blackbird, European Robin, Black-eared Wheatear, Sardinian Warbler, Black-eared Wheatear, Dartford Warbler, Woodchat Shrike, and forest birds such as Song Thrush, Great Tit,

Common Chaffinch and  Rock Bunting. Birds in flight include the almost constantly present Common and Pallid Swifts together with Hirundines (mainly Barn and Red-rumped Swallow and House Martin) during the months when these species are present here.  In the tree formations composed mainly of pines, then holm oaks and Portuguese gall oaks further on, the  Eurasian Sparrowhawk might make an appearance, as well as European Turtle Dove, Common Wood Pigeon, Cuckoo, Scops Owl, Tawny Owl, Hoopoe, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Woodlark, Wren, Song and Mistle Thrush, Blackcap, Firecrest, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Short-toed Treecreeper, Eurasian Jay, Crossbill, Hawfinch,  Cirl Bunting and at times during some winter seasons, Yellowhammer. In the copses of holm oak you have a chance to see the Western Orphean Warbler and Azure-winged Magpie, and Iberian Chiffchaff in the more humid areas with Portuguese gall oaks.

Once you are in the rocky environment approaching the highest parts of the walk, you may be able to see Golden Eagle, Bonelli´s Eagle, Alpine Swift, as well as Crag Martin, Blue Rock Thrush, Black Wheatear, Western Jackdaw, Red-billed Chough, Raven and Rock Sparrow. Even though Griffon Vulture does not nest in these mountains, it can be seen relatively often in small groups. The star species of the highest parts of Stage 11, which can be seen during spring and summer months, is the Common Rock Thrush, a bird belonging to the Thrush family whose males present  exceptionally striking plumage. Also in these higher parts of Stage 11 you will be able to find Northern Wheatear and Alpine Accentor.

Once in the area of Hondoneros, along the downhill section approaching the end of Stage 11, the previously mentioned species are joined by the Eurasian Woodcock and Common Whitethroat in the shady spots, then Redwing, Ring Ouzel, Subalpine Warbler, Bonelli´s Warbler, and, occasionally, Brambling. This is also a good site to watch the majestic flight of the Golden Eagle and listen to the Eagle Owl.

As you get closer to the village, and your destination, crop fields start appearing more often, where the most common birds are the Eurasian Collared Dove, Spotless and Common Starling and finches. You can also find White Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Nightingale and Cetti´s Warbler around the stream Arroyo de Los Cerezos.


All across rugged, mountainous and karstic landscape, this path crosses Jobo Mountain which is part of the mountain range of the Sierra de Camorolos, included in Natura 2000 because of its significant plant and animal life.


Route On foot
Trail Type Lineal
Distance 15400
Estimated Time 5:15
Difficulty - Blue -Easy