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Routes & Birdwatching Sites

Routes & Birdwatching Sites

Great Malaga Path (GR 249). Stage 21. Estación de El Chorro (Álora) - Carratraca - Ardales

The initial stretch of Stage 21 is characterised by the large rock faces which hold typical rock-dwellers. Then, the defining feature of Stage 21 becomes the reservoir Tajo de la Encantada which will add water birds to your list. The first uphill section takes through a pine wood with Mediterranean Dwarf Palm, retama bushes and a few savin junipers. Once you reach the viewpoint area the terrain changes to farmland; mainly almond groves and scattered farmhouses adjacent to grazing land. The former woodland character of this area becomes very evident with the mid-sized holm oaks which are still trying to claim their territory. Walking through fields and stretches of re-forested pine wood you will reach your destination which is the Ardales village.


Highlighted Species

Birds of prey, such as Griffon Vulture, Bonelli´s Eagle, Peregrine Falcon and Common Kestrel are common in the area at the beginning of Stage 21, as well as Cormorant, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Kingfisher at the section where you cross the river Guadalhorce. Around the train station Eurasian Collared Dove, Swifts, Barn Swallow House and Crag Martin, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow and finches such as  Goldfinch and Greenfinch indicate the presence of human dwellings , however you can also see woodland birds here due to some forested and scrub areas (e.g.: Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, Great Tit, Crossbill, Common Chaffinch and Rock Bunting).

On the way up you will be flanking a few rocky outcrops which gives you access to high rock dwellers such as Blue Rock Thrush, Black Wheatear and Red-billed Chough. Higher up, the mirador (viewpoint) is an exceptional site to delight in birds of prey in flight, also Swifts and Choughs. Once you embark upon the part of the footpath which leads along hills dotted with houses, fields, patches of replanted pine trees and lone holm oaks,  it will be the Eurasian Jay which will be drawing your attention the most, its visible white rump and its loud call. Moreover, good numbers of Goldfinches, Greenfinches, Serins and Common Linnets will be keeping you company during this stretch of the path, joined by such species as Little Owl, Red-legged Partridge, Sardinian Warbler, Great Tit, Spotless Starling and Common Chaffinch. Along this section there are various watercourses which allow you to see Song Thrushes, Redwings, European Robins, Blackcaps, Golden Orioles and Crossbills. Plus, the Short-toed Eagle is a frequent visitor to the area in spring and summer months. Golden and Bonelli´s Eagle use these slopes to search for food. If you walk along here at the break of the dawn or at dusk you may be able to hear Scops Owl and Eagle Owl.


Along this stage, you can climb the top of the Mesas de Villaverde, a beauty spot with superb views of the gorge Desfiladero de los Gaitanes and the Guadalhorce Valley. You can as well observe birds of prey that fly over this spot or visit the Mozarabic Church of Bobastro.


Route On foot
Trail Type Lineal
Distance 21700
Estimated Time 7:00
Difficulty - Blue -Easy