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This was the day many regular visitors to Malaga had been talking about. Today, we were set to head to Desfiladero de los Gaitanes, an area known for its natural beauty. With this being our last day of riding in Spain, needless to say that we were really excited about the opportunity of exploring it. This was set to be a long day considering that our flight back to Scandinavia was scheduled to departure some time after midnight. At the same time, the late flight meant that we could enjoy a full day of riding without having to stress about risking missing the flight.
Desfiladero de los Gaitanes
We arrived at Desfiladero de los Gaitanes natural area after about an hour's transfer with minibuses. We parked our vehicles at a place that appeared to be not particularly high up in the mountains considering that this was supposed to be another shuttle assisted day of riding. Indeed, according to our Suunto Ambit, it was no more than some 400m above the sea level. However, the scenery looked very satisfying already here.
Photo: We were greeted by a beautiful scenery after unloading our bikes from minibuses.
After pushing our bikes in a difficult rocky terrain for a while, it was time for today's first single track descent. It was a relatively short (3km) trail that took us to an altitude of 260m. Keen on pedalling some uphill on this last riding day, we volunteered for a quite steep asphalt road to the next descent that started at 470m. It was a really hot day and some of our fellow riders seemed a bit skeptical whether it really was a wise decision to skip the motorised uplift. Anyways, the next descent was again no more than 2km long to an altitude of 260m. However, its profile made it deeply satisfying indeed. We decided to ride it again, but this opting for an uplift with our minibus.
The next one was the thing of today. A 4km ride on an asphalt road took us to El Chorro, a small village at an altitude of just above 200m, some 15km from a larger town Alora. Located at the heart of magnificent and infamous El Camino del Rey, El Chorro is a popular destination for climbers, hikers, mountain bikers and other outdoor enthusiast alike.
El Camino del Rey - The walk of death
El Camino del Rey (The King's little pathway in English) is a 3km long and 1m wide walkway built on a mountain wall around 100m above the ground level. Located between villages Alora and Ardales, the path was built between 1901 and 1905 to provide workers of two hydroelectric plants, Chorro Falls and Gaitanejo Falls, with means of crossing between them, and transporting material and equipment. Camino del Rey got its name when King Alfonso XIII walked the path as he inaugurating the power stations in 1921. Nowadays, the pathway has collapsed in many places. Deemed to be too dangerous, authorities closed access to it in 2011 after several fatal accidents. However, it is still accessible for climbers. With the Spanish government planning to restore the pathway by 2015, Camino del Rey is attracting a lot of enthusiasts who want to experience it in its current, dangerous form.
Before continuing our riding, we had a lunch in a local restaurant with some good food and magnificent views down to mountain walls on the opposite side of the water pod. We were seriously impressed by the breathtaking beauty of this area and can warmly recommend paying a visit to El Chorro.
After the lunch, we loaded bikes to the vans for an uplift to an altitude of 600m, presumably the highest point attainable with a car. From here we had the last two descents of the day waiting for us. Both descents started at the same point but trails were partly different. We witnessed some minor crashes in certain rocky sections of these descents, but nothing more dramatic. Our riding day ended with a cold beer or two in a primitive bar at the El Chorro's small railway station. Then it was time to drive back to Sierra's Fuengirola base again.
With late flight back home, we had plenty of time to pack our bikes and joint the rest of the riding crew for a dinner before we were transported to the airport at just before the midnight.
Photo: Malaga airport at midnight.
Statistics for the fourth riding day (measured by Suunto Ambit):