El Torcal de Antequera is a nature reserve in the Sierra del Torcal mountains, to the south of Antequera, less than 30km from Finca Gran Cerros.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s known for its unusual landforms, and is regarded as one of the most impressive karst (limestone rock) landscapes in Europe.
Amongst the limestone rocks, the park is bursting with plants and wildlife. Plants include lilies, red peonies, wild rose trees and thirty varieties of orchid. The many species of reptiles include the Montpellier snake and ocellated lizard, both endemic to El Torcal. Other wildlife includes the Griffon vulture, the Spanish Ibex (Andalusian mountain goat), and nocturnal mammals such as badgers and weasels.
There are numerous hiking routes throughout the park, some for serious walkers and climbers, as well as for those who’d prefer a more gentle meander through the impressive landscape!
The park has an excellent Visitor Centre – the natural starting point for your exploration of the reserve. It has full details of all the free, public access, walking routes. Guided walks are also available, including the popular ‘Route of the 5 Senses’, a night-time ‘El Torcal Under Moonlight’ walk and a fossil-hunting walk ‘Route of the Ammonites’.
The visitor centre includes a very reasonably priced restaurant which offers a good selection of traditional food, all made with locally sourced ingredients.
The visitor centre has limited parking, so if arriving later in the day at busy times, it is necessary to park in the overflow car park and make use of the shuttle bus (for a small charge).
Visit the El Torcal Natural Park website for full details.
This part of Spain has extremely favourable conditions for stargazing and astronomy, and the ‘Astronomical Observation of El Torcal’ (OAT) is also located in the park, hosting regular observation evenings that take advantage of the lack of light pollution in this region. See the OAT website for prices and opening times.