90 minutes from Malaga, South of Antequera (A-7075)
The rock formations in El Torcal are the most spectacular I have ever seen, putting Stonehenge and the many beautiful natural rock phenomena in Morocco into the shade.
It is a spectacular drive to reach the actual entry to the park and the visitors’centre, which is well worth a visit if only to buy the small book telling you about the area.
El Torcal dates back 200 million years. In the Jurassic period this entire zone – from the Gulf of Cadiz to the Levantine coast, was occupied by a great arm of the sea as a result of which marine fossils can be seen in the Visitors Centre. To quote: ‘ Previously below sea level, the limestone material rose to an altitude of 1,300 metres whilst preserving their horizontal structure…. A process of erosion caused by rain-water freezing in the limestone material, and known as frost wedging or gelifraction, has occurred since the Quaternary Era forming this landscape, one of nature’s most beautiful creations….. Fantastic and bizarre forms resembling infinite objects and structures dominate the scene….’
If the above has not whetted your appetite I do not know what will. I can assure you you will not be disappointed, and the necessary detour will be well worth your while.
If you manage to book a flight arriving at Malaga in daylight, and having picked up your rented car, why not drive to a delightful guesthouse which is located about 35 minutes from Malaga (direction El Torcal, but taking the autoroute A-45 : the owners will give you exact route instructions when you book directly with them) at Villanueva del Rosario. Book here for two nights. Arrive in time for a dip in the pool and dinner (book this in advance – Julie is a superb cook! ) After a leisurely and very special breakfast, beautifully presented, drive via Antequera to El Torcal. Take your time, you will want to stop several times en route to take photos, and will certainly need time to take a long walk within the Natural Reserve itself.
My following suggestion is to drive from there to Malaga in the afternoon. You only saw the airport on arrival, and the town has more to offer, including the Picasso Museum and many great tapas bars, one of the best of which is located not far from the museum in Calle Echegary. PITTA serves really different tapas of Spanish, Turkish and Moroccan origin. It is worth hunting this particular tapas bar down ! This will presumably be your early evening meal, but now you know the road so even if it is dark it is easier to find your guesthouse again.
An alternative is to return to your guesthouse from El Torcal, and enjoy time beside the pool before going for a truly excellent dinner in Restaurant Arxiduna in Archidona –both the location and the food are truly different. Your hosts will book this for you – but be aware they are only open on Thursday through Sunday for both lunch and dinner.
Enjoy your second night in great comfort – your hosts do everything they can to ensure a great stay.
The next day the choice is yours – either direction Granada (about one hour’s drive) and the Alhambra (you will need to have booked a ‘slot’ well in advance), or Sevilla (a two hour drive on the autoroute) for a couple of nights (depending on the time of year, in mid-summer be aware the temperature can be above 40 degrees) . Alternatively, of course, you can also choose to head direct for the golden beaches of Tarifa which is a three hour drive from Villa del Rosario.
Or you can stop for a couple of nights in Cartajima, a small white village some 25 minutes from Ronda. The hotel and the views are great, and it is much nicer to visit Ronda from here than to stay in the town. The drive from Cartajima to Tarifa taking the country road is very beautiful, passing the renowned ‘white villages ‘(of which one entire village has been painted blue as the backdrop for a recent film). With a stop of about one hour for lunch (and we also have of course a very special place to recommend) this will take you in total about four hours.
If you have chosen to go via Sevilla, then Tarifa is a two hour drive from there. I suggest you go via Medina Sidonia where you would stop for lunch. Arriving at Dar Cilla Guesthouse, you can now enjoy some real R and R (rest and relaxation) where lounging on the large roof terrace looking across to Morocco is a joy. Stay at least four nights if you want to incorporate a day’s visit to Tangier with Dar Cilla’s private guide . It is only a 35 minute ferry trip and you are in Africa. Also book this through Dar Cilla well in advance as our guide gets booked up well ahead and he is the best (see Trip Advisor reviews).
And so you see that we at Dar Cilla want to help you plan your holiday. Andalusia is such a wonderful area offering such variety, and much of your enjoyment depends on finding those very special places to stay and eat, on getting your timing right, on avoiding anything which feels ‘touristy’ ! Call us for more detailed information or advice. We shall be happy to help you.