Ronda to Torremolinos

After spending a wonderful time in Ronda off we drove again, further to the east then south along the A367 and A357. Our destination would be Torremolinos on the Costa del Sol. The road beckoned so we packed everything into the car and off we went.Along the way there were rugged hills, serene lakes and in the distance lots of wind farm turbines.After about 40 minutes we turned off at Ardales and followed the MA5403 into the Parque Ardales in which the massive reservoir lake formed by the building of the Guadalhorce dam can be found. However much as the lake is quite beautiful it wasn’t the main reason we were here in the Parque Natural Desfiladero de los Gaitanes. We had read and heard about a famous walk called the Caminito del Rey (King’s Walk). We knew the walk was restricted to a certain number of walkers per group and a certain number of departure times per day but sadly hadn’t managed to make a booking. Not reading Spanish very well probably contributing to our frustration. However word had it that there were quite often cancellations and no shows so we had decided to turn up anyway. This park was very busy but after driving around a bit we found a parking spot. Next we walked to an entry point for the Caminito del Rey between two restaurants. We had only walked a short distance when we came to this sign.We didn’t have a map but it seemed pretty clear that the path was down this tunnel, hopefully not the whole 1.5kms! We looked. It was pitch black it seemed. However we could hear voices so down the tunnel we tentatively walked using the torches on our mobile phones to see the path. On and on the tunnel went. Gradually we came closer to the voices. It was a group of women and they were pushing/dragging a friend in a wheelchair along. So we offered to help and they gratefully accepted. With quite a bit of effort we succeeded in reaching the far end of the tunnel. It would have been about 250m we estimated. The ladies were really happy and insisted on taking photos with us. I also took one of Karen with them.In front of us was a beautiful scene.Off we hiked down the trail. As we went we passed other walkers and large groups of other visitors to the park, picnicking and enjoying the views.The trail descended as we went and after a while even passed through another tunnel, a much shorter one than before!We were quite near a narrow offshoot of the main reservoir lake.Further down we continueduntil we came to a barrier across the trail. There was a sign and with our limited Spanish the gist of it was that from here you had to be admitted by a National Park official. With nothing to lose we waited awhile, eating a snack. Soon after a group arrived at the barrier and were duly met by a National Park official. They followed him and walked down the trail and round a corner out of view. So reluctantly we realised walking the Caminito del Rey would take more planning and a reservation. Anyway we turned around and began our walk back. It wasn’t all bad as we did see quite a few birds of prey flying above us at one point.The walk was very pleasantand the scenery quite pretty. How this tree we spotted had survived surprised us, barely getting its roots into any soil.After making our way back through the tunnel we came to another section of the main reservoir lake again. This stand-up paddle-boarder kept us entertained while sat and ate our lunch.After finishing lunch we started our journey again, passing through a number of small villages as we drove.We approached the towns of the Costa del Sol late afternoon and after a bit of a drive found our very modest hotel, Hotel Residencia Miami. It was a bit old world, but the room was huge compared to many we had stayed in, we had free parking, a pool in pleasant gardens and were within a short walk of the beach, shops and restaurants. After settling in we walked down to the beach. Disappointingly the beach was enshrouded with mist (or was that pollution from nearby Malaga?) but we had a bit of a look around anyway.It was interesting to see what had been a hotspot for a generation of hippies on the road, as described by James A Michener in his book The Drifters, was now mostly inhabited by sunburnt, overweight Brits who have retired to the Costa del Sol.We joined many others walking the strip adjacent to the beach, checking out the shops and restaurants. One restaurant was using a boat for advertising purposes.After walking a fair way we turned back. It was at this point we noticed the sea view had cleared.We made our way back to our hotel for a shower and change of clothes before coming back to eat dinner at a Greek seafood restaurant, La Zoca. The food was quite delicious and we had a good view of the waterfront from our table at the front of the restaurant – a lovely way to finish our time in southern Spain.

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