A short drive from Cantueso Cottages in Periana is the natural park of El Torcal. It is one of nature’s wonders, created over 200 million years ago and provides a fascinating legacy of that period, when Europe and the Middle East was still one continent submerged under the Tethys Sea.
No matter whether you are a geologist or simply a curious traveller, the landscape will amaze with its limestone constructions resembling a far off planet. For a period of about 175 million years, the build up of carbonate sedimentation continued with vast accumulations of shells, skeletons, and dead marine life. Over time these were compacted at various levels forming the horizontal limestone layers we can see today, and which have, since the retreat of the water, been shaped by water, wind and ice.
The fossilised remains of an Ammonite. A hard shelled sea creature that lived 200 million years ago.
Visitor Centre: Adjacent to the car parking area is the visitor centre which is a good starting point for your explorations. There is a small shop selling artisan products and a restaurant, which caters for the needs of the thirsty and hungry traveller with breakfast, lunch and dinner being served. Interactive displays offer an excellent guide to the area and explanation of special sights, and helpful staff members are there to further enhance your experience. You can also join a guided group from there.
Walking Trails: there are well-signed trails of varying lengths open to all. Off track walks are only permitted if previously authorised.
Nature’s Art, in abundance at el Torcal
Do I need a permit to walk un-guided? No, as long as you follow one of the five marked trails.
Can we hire a guide? Yes, a guide is available for groups of from two to twenty. Please check as guided walks are restricted in some months and your own group arrangements must be made in advance. See El Torcal website for details. www.torcaldeantequera.com/
What are the opening hours of the Visitor Centre?
From 1st October to 30th March 10.00 to 17.00 hrs.
1st April to 30 September 10.00 to 19.00 hrs.
During July and August the restaurant and observatory is open until midnight.
Can we walk at night? Only if you join a pre-arranged tour. There are nighttime events called “Nights to Awaken the Senses.” These evening tours start at 19.00 hrs with a two-hour walk along the route of the Ammonites followed by dinner, and finishing with a two-hour session in the observatory. The cost of about 30€ per person, includes guide, insurance, dinner and the services of an astronomer.
Where can I find more information? The official website is: www.torcaldeantequera.com/ which unfortunately is only in Spanish but using Google translate or similar you will get the gist of most things. Most importantly you will get the up-to-date information on special tours and events.
How to get there from Periana?
From Cantueso return to the roundabout and turn right taking the road out of the village towards Riogordo, then to Colemenar/Casabermeja/Villanuevo de la Concepción, and once there you will see signs to “Parje Natural, Torcal de Antequera.”
In total about 55 kilometres and just over one hour, driving at normal speed.
All photographs on this posting by kind permission of Don Bertolette.