El Torcal Natural Park Reserve is an incredible limestone mountain range dividing the flat plains of Antequera and the more hilly area of Villanueva de la Concepción.
El Torcal is considered the most impressive example of Karstic rock formations in Europe.
When you visit El Torcal you can wander along to the lookout and stand overlooking the incredible views over Villanueva de la Concepción and down to the coast.
Or you can sit on the terrace of the cafeteria and sip a refreshing drink in the national park & from there, walk through to the Visitors centre, souvenir shop and museum. The museum houses various exhibition displays of how El Torcal has been formed over the last 200 million years.
You can make your Torcal visit as light or as strenuous as you choose and it’s always fun to visit.
The park is really beautiful to see, and the real gem is when you walk into the heart of Torcal and see all the unique rock formations rising up in front of you like limestone sculptures.
Apart from walking it’s also nice to buy a can of drink from the cafeteria and climb to the top of a rocky ledge and sit there basking in the beautiful scenery and the sunshine – or if I’m with children, to sit in the lower grassy area with a picnic.
If you do the walk, go to the lookout and have a drink at the cafeteria, you should allow about 1.5-2 hours hours for your visit.
There’s also an Astronomy Observatory with events throughout the year and group bookings available. The lack of light pollution on Torcal makes it a perfect location for star gazing.
Some Facts on El Torcal
El Torcal stands, at its highest point, above 1300 m above sea level, yet a mere 150 million years ago, El Torcal was under the sea!
Pressure on the earth forced Torcal upwards and the erosion and freezing effect causes the layering effect we see today. There are lots of hidden caves in El Torcal, a common characteristic of Karstic rock landscapes.
El Torcal was declared a national site of interest in 1929 and later, in 1978 it was declared a national park of about 17 km2 . In 1989 the Junta de Andalucia reclassified El Torcal as a national nature reserve and it’s now a Unesco World Heritage Site.
Flora and Fauna on El Torcal
I love it when you come across the wildlife on El Torcal. The animals we see most often on our walks are the wild goats of Andalucia, the Iberian Ibex.
I’ve also seen cows & a bull grazing in the middle of the path, a fox who came towards me curiously and was quite unperturbed by my proximity and lots of lizards, Griffen vultures and less often, the Golden Eagle.
As well as those, there are snakes – the most common one is the Montpellier snake – though it’s rare to see one. I’ve only ever seen a snake once while I was climbing around in the rocks and the snake was in a crevice between the two Karstic sculptures!
Other wildlife, which is more difficult to see, includes badgers, hedgehogs and ganets.
El Torcal has lots of protected fauna and is covered in lovely flowers in springtime! Among others, there are many varieties of orchids and also wild roses. And lots of little flowers in the rocks!
What You Should Know When You Visit El Torcal
El Torcal is protected so you aren’t allowed to remove anything from it and no picking of the flowers or collecting of fossils.
Because of the height, if you go in summer be prepared for extra strong sunshine. Make sure you take sun protection and a hat and a bottle of water with you on the walk.
If you visit on a cold day, it will be colder on El Torcal than down below so be sure to take extra clothing.
You need trainers or good walking boots to do the rocky walk safely. There are three routes on El Torcal. Two are open to the public and one is only available with a tour guide.
Make sure not to start off too late and get caught on the mountain when night falls. The path is not possible to follow in the dark and you wouldn’t be the first people who have had to be rescued by the Guardia Civil search party after getting lost in the mountain.
The mobile reception in the heart of the mountain is zero so go at a good time and in good weather.
Don’t forget that if you visit us at Explore Andalusia we will be your friends abroad and show you the best of Andalusia, all the hidden corners to make your visit more memorable!
If you have any questions or comments please leave them below and I’ll get straight back to you.