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El Torcal - fascinating geological rock formations

A few miles up in the mountains near Malaga is El Torcal de Antequera at 1,200 meters above sea level. An area where erosion of limestone rocks has created an otherworldly landscape with beautiful rock formations that stimulate the imagination.

El Torcal is a natural park of nearly 12 square kilometers in the municipality of Antequera in the province of Malaga. The area was protected in 1929 as the first nature conservation area in the Andalucía region.

In 2016, it was listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It is now a popular tourist destination and departure point for school classes. The rock formations were formed in the Jurassic period 150 - 250 million years ago when the area was on the seabed.

Two marked routes have been created in the area - one short and one long - which you must follow if you want to walk alone. If you book a guided tour, you also get to see other, less accessible areas.

The short route is recommended if the ground is wet. The long route can show even more spectacular rock formations, but can be very slippery and muddy if it has rained.

Due to the altitude and the location near the Mediterranean Sea, there is often fog in the morning and afternoon. It can create a fairy-tale atmosphere.

In addition to sculpture-like stone formations on the surface, there are also caves and grottoes here.

For those who want to photograph, it is easy to think that sunlight will give better pictures, but the advantage of fog is that the rock formations stand out more.

As shown in the photo above, taken in sunlight, the three stones almost blend into the background, while in the photo below, taken in fog, they stand out more clearly.

In the photo taken in fog below, the two rocks become the main subject.

While the same rocks become only a foreground detail in the photo below taken in sunlight.

If you want to take pictures in sunlight, you should consider visiting the place a couple of hours before sunset. Then you will be able to get a softer light that gives longer shadows and which helps to isolate the rock formations you want to bring out clearly in the picture.

There is a car park, tourist information, cafeteria and toilets at the visitor center where the routes begin.

More excursions:

Excursion of the week: El Torcal de Antequera - a facinating trip to geological rock formations

Suitable for: The green route is suitable for adults and children. The yellow and orange routes are suitable for adults in generally good physical shape. None of the routes are suitable for wheelchairs or prams. You can also book a guided tour to other parts of the area, but this must be agreed in advance:

Duration: The short green round trip is approx. 1.5 kilometers and will take approx. 45 minutes to walk, while the long yellow round trip is 3 kilometers and will take 2 hours to walk. You should allow more time if you want to take pictures. The orange route, which goes from the lower to the upper car park and back the same way, is 3.5 kilometers each way, 7 kilometers in total. It has a lot of incline.

Get there: Search for "Centro de visitores El Torcal" on Google Maps. You will then come straight to the car park and visitor centre. Alternatively, follow the A-45 from Malaga to Casabermeja where you take the MA-3404, then the A-7075 y MA-9016, which leads to the car park and visitor centre. From Malaga it takes 1 hour to drive to El Torcal.

The green and yellow route starts at the Visitor Center at the end of the car park. Follow the marked path. It may be worth buying an information brochure in the visitor centre.

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