Malaga Province has a vast variety of natural beauty areas and nature reserves that are a joy to visit. Here we recommend a few of each type.
River valleys wending their way throughout the province, rising in locations teeming with wildlife, are a great port of call for lovers of nature in its purest form.
1. Source of the River Guaro
The hamlet of Guaro close to Periana, an idyllic location sheltered by the Sierra de Alhama in Axarquia, is the source of the River Guaro. The source is fed by waters from the Zafarraya plains in the neighbouring Granada province but only flows during rainy months. After flowing through the hamlet along a winding, stony course, the river crosses the upper Axarquia before flowing into La Vinuela reservoir.
2. Source of the River Guadalhorce
At its source, the River Guadalhorce forms a terraced waterfall with a flow constant throughout the year. Just below, before continuing to the sea, it travels through a dense wooded area before crossing the Antequera plains.
3. Source of the River Guadiaro
The River Guadiaro rises in the Ronda Mountains towards the western extreme of Malaga Province. A noteworthy point along its course is the El Gato Cave, within the municipal boundaries of the village of Benaojen, 17 kilometres from Ronda.
5 kilometres from the cave´s galleries, the waters of the River Guadares flow beneath the ground joining those of the Guadiaro at the surface. In the rainy season, the level inside the cave almost entirely floods the underground galleries before forcing its way out through a huge grotto mouth.
4. Source of the River Genal
The source of the River Genal is an extraordinary location to visit. The Genal rises within the municipality of Igualeja, 20 kilometres south of Ronda in the Genal Valley. The waters emanate from a small cave near the entrance to the village where they take on a deep blue hue. A park has been created around the upper section of the river around the lake formed by the source.
Lakes & Reservoirs
1. Lake Vinuela
Lake Vinuela is found in the heart of some of Andalucía’s most spectacular scenery in Axarquia. More about Lake Vinuela.
2. Lagunas Fuente Piedra
Andalucia´s largest lagoon, home to the biggest colony of pink flamingos in the Iberian Peninsula. More about the Fuente Piedra.
3. Embalse de Gaitanejo
The reservoirs between the Campillos, Antequera and Ardales triangle are the Embalse de Gaitanejo, Embalse del Conde de Guadalhorce and, the largest of all, Embalse del Gualdalteba-Guadalhorce. Surrounded by woodlands, these reservoirs were created by dams on three rivers, the Guadalhorce, Teba, and Turron. The individual lakes are; Lake Guadalhorce, Lake Gaitanejo, Lake Guadalteba and Lake Conde Guadalhor.
1. Tolox Spa
This therapeutic spring lies at the foot of the world´s largest periodotite massif dating back to primitive times. Its only rival is found in the Ural Mountians in Russia.
Flowing at 17 litres per minute, at a temperature of 21ºC, minerals from the metallic seams include bicarbonates, magnesium, radioactives and sulphates.
2. Alhama de Granada
Just outside of the Malaga Province, yet worthy of inclusion, are the therapeutic, thermal springs at Alhama de Granada.
From the coast, its a spectacular drive alongside gorgeous mountain scenery, through the Zafarraya Gap onto plains and a dramatic change of scenery. The last part of the journey takes you through a narrow gorge with overhanging cliffs and waterfalls. Once at the destination, in addition to the hot springs, there are wooded walks and fabulous examples of ancient Moorish baths.
1. Sierra Tejeda, Alhama y Almijara
Straddling the Malaga and Granada provinces, descending to picturesque cliffs and coves, with mountain springs and streams, large numbers of Spanish Ibex and other wildlife, a multitude of caves and awe-inspiring vistas. More about the Sierra Tejeda, Alhama y Almijara Natural Park.
2. Montes de Malaga
Located just 5 kilometres to the north of Malaga City, rich in Pine forests, Oaks and Mediterranean vegetation, fauna and great country restaurants. Why not combine the vast Sunday Malaga flea market with lunch in the park? More about the Montes de Malaga Natural Park.
3. Sierra de las Nieves
A mountainous limestone massif with peaks reaching up to almost 2,000 metres snow-capped in winter, extremely deep caverns (including the 3rd deepest in the whole wide world), potholes, high cliffs and gorges. More about the Sierra de las Nieves Natural Park.
4. Valle del Genal
The Genal Valley lies within the Ronda Mountains, nestling on the banks of the River Genal. The landscape is of immense ecological value with forests of Pines, Holm, Gall and Cork Oaks and Chestnut trees all lending their beauty to the green and fertile scenery.
5. Sierra de Grazalema
In the west of Malaga Province, bordering Cadiz Province, the climate is influenced by the proximity of the Atlantic Ocean and its warm, humid winds causing lush vegetation and abundance of wildlife. More about the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park.
In addition to those listed below, look out for Miradors and Balcons, which signify spectacular natural viewpoints.
1. Maro Cliffs
The Maro Cliffs, to the east of the town of Maro, lie at the foothills of the Sierra de Almijara overlooking spectacular coves, caves and a protected marine reserve.
2. El Cortijo de Alcazar
The area known as El Cortijo de Alcazar is located in Axarquia, 5 kilometres from Alcaucin. A Nature Reserve with an evocative landscape and picnic and BBQ facilities.
3. La Loma del Barco
La Loma del Barco, also known as Loma del Melonar, is a high point close to the village of Iznate in Axarquia, with magnificent panoramic views of the whole area.
Perched on top of a high conical hill in Axarquia 740 metres above sea level, Comares commands fabulous views over mountains, Lake Vinuela and the coast to Africa.
5. Montes de Malaga
Viewpoints from the Montes de Malaga Natural Park look out to infinite horizons.
6. Mirador de las Ventanillas
Another spot, this one in the El Torcal Nature Reserve, with breathtaking views as far as the African continent.
7. El Chorro
Close to the old and picturesque dam of Presa del Chorro is a superb natural gorge, 3 kilometres in length and 400 metres deep, called La Garganta del Chorro. Within this dramatic setting wildlife is abundant and water flows from the lakes with a bridge connecting the two sides where trains pass on the Malaga-Cordoba route.
8. Pico Torrecilla
Pico Torrecilla, at 1,919 metres altitude in the municipality of Tolox, is a high point to head for in the Sierra de Las Nieves Natural Park, from which to gaze around at the wonderful panoramic views.
9. Ronda Gorge
In the words of the poet Rainer Maria Rilke, who fell in love with Ronda, any one of the viewpoints along the Ronda Gorge can only be described as breathtaking.
Gaucin is a truly beautiful village at 630 metres above sea level perched on the crest of Sierra del Hacho and known as the Balcony of the Ronda Mountains. Views over spectacular mountain and valley scenery to Africa´s Rif Mountains and Gibraltar.
The village of Grazalema in the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park, with an information centre (tel +34 956 132 073) in the main square (Plaza de Espana), is not only a great base from which to explore the Park but has itself some fantastic panoramic views. One of the best is close to the 18th century chapel of San Jose.
Located between the Costa del Sol and the Sierra de Ronda mountians, Casares is another white village perched on top of a hill affording fabulous views to the coastline, Gibraltar and Africa. A narrow street next to the Virgin del Rosario chapel takes you to the top of the town and an old fortress 410 metres above sea level.
1. Nerja Caves
Nerja Caves are one of the most important Prehistoric archaeological sites on the western Mediterranean.
How to get there: Located 3 kilometres from Nerja, the caves are well-signposted from the town or from the E-15 Mediterranean highway. More about Nerja Caves.
2. Falla de Camorro
The Sierra del Camorro Fault, made up of abundant remains of limestone and dolomite from the Lower and Middle Jurassic periods, forms a stunning background to the surrounding area.
How to get there: From the south via the N-331 and follow links to the A-6212 towards Cueva de San Marcos.
3. El Torcal
The Screw of El Torcal is one of the many karsic formations found at El Torcal nature area. By virtue of its unusual screw shape it was declared a Natural Monument.
How to get there: From Malaga take the N-331 to Casabermeja then follow the road to Villanueva de la Concepcion. After 6 kilometres take the turnoff for El Torcal. More about El Torcal.
4. Pinsapo de las Escaleretas
The Spanish Fir of Las Escaleretas is the oldest in the world. Standing 1,100 metres above sea level, it is 26 metres in height and 5 metres in diameter.
How to get there: From any point on the Costa del Sol, take the N-340 to San Pedro de Alcantara. Then follow the A-376 towards Ronda and turn off, about 1 kilometres before the town, onto the A-519 leading to Parauta.
5. Canon de las Buitreras
An impressive narrow gorge over 100 metres deep on the Rive Guadiaro. The river eroded the Jurassic limestone and marl, creating spectacular landscape.
How to get there: From Malaga, follow the coastal highway to Sabinillas before taking the A-377 towards Manilva-Casares until Gaucin. This leads to the bottom of the Rio Guadiaro valley and the town of El Colmenar (also known as Estacion de Gaucin). From here, follow the path that leads out of the village and runs along the west bank next to the railway line. This leads to a large pool, about 300 metres in length, wich stands alongside the exit from the canyon.
6. Las Dunas de Artola
The Artola Dunes form an unusual landscape made up of a combination of fossil and mobile dunes. The fossil dunes have a vegetative covering of pine trees and Mediterranean scrub. The mobile sand dunes form a barrier parallel to the coast that is home to species capable of withstanding wind and extreme sun including marine thistles and beachgrass.
How to get there: Take the A-7 until 12 kilometres from Marbella and 44 kilometres from Malaga. At this point take the turnoff for Cabopino and head for Puerto Cabopino.