Ardales Lakes, El Chorro, Bobastro
"Water of Life"
Our countryhouse is only 30 minutes from Ardales National Park, also known as the Spanish Lake District. This area is one of the most stunning areas in Malaga Province, with rich wild life, history and amazing countryside. This Nature Park is set high up in the mountains and contains three main attractions:
El Chorro12 km west of Alora, along the river Guadalhorce, El Chorro is a breathtaking gorge formed by the river. 200 meters high, with a narrow opening leading to the reservoir now formed by the new dam, it is an amazing site.
The original dam was constructed between 1914 and 1921 and was officially opened by King Alfonso XIII of Spain. The king commemorated the opening by walking along the narrow catwalk built specially for this occasion, which still is referred to as the Royal Road (el Caminito del Rey). The walk took the king along the El Chorro gorge, enabling him to take a view of the dam and the gorge whilst standing at a height of 100 meters (half way up). After a long period of closure due to safety concerns the new walkway was built in 2015 and was opened on 28 March 2015. It is now open to visitors but you must pre-book your ticket which has waiting list of up to 3 months. Click here for more information.
BobastroThere are two places of interest at Bobastro, both of which are amazing technical achievements separated by 11 centuries; the ruins of the 9th Century church and the mountain top reservoir.
Half way up the mountain is the unique Bobastro church carved out of a single rock and village that now lays derelict and abandoned. It was the fortified base of a major revolt by “Umar ibn Hafsun” against the Moors Caliph based in Cordoba. For the first and last time in history, Hafsun managed to assemble and unite an army of Moslems and Christians under his command.
In the later part of his life Umar ibn Hafsun converted to Christianity and commissioned the amazing church carved from single pieces of stone. Paying respect to followers of both faiths, Bobastro church was deliberately built facing Mecca, enabling all soldiers of his army to pray in the same place. After his death, his 30-year rebellion was finally put down by the Caliph of Cordoba and his body was dug up and hanged for his crimes against the Caliphate and conversion from Islam. Drive to Bobastro demonstrates the difficulty the Caliph army had in putting down the revolt.
At the top of the mountain there is a water reservoir. During the night when the demand for electricity falls, water is pumped to the top of the mountain from the Guadalhorce dam using the excess electricity. During the day-time and the periods of high electricity demand, water is allowed to return down to the dam, hence generating electricity. The reservoir has an unreal and almost sinister feel but provides a fantastic view of the valley and the occasional sites of Eagles and Vultures. May be Umar ibn Hafsun has not completely vanished from Bobastro!
Ardales LakesFormed by dams on three rivers of Guadalhorce, Teba, and Turron, these turquoise coloured lakes with their surrounding woodlands are the most unexpected sites in the hot and desert like Andalucia. The “Lake Districts” of Andalucia are only 6km from El Chorro and are a favourite weekend escape for Malaga residents.
With many activities such as canoeing, sailing, swimming areas and many great places to eat, these lakes have become a tourist magnet, attracting visitors from far and wide.
Cortijo Valverde can arrange guided tours of the lakes and El Chorro. These Quad-bike Tours range from 2-hour to 3.5-hour and will take you through normally inaccessible tracks, which provide unique views of area.