The El Torcal nature reserve is one of the most beautiful, but most impressive, geological nature reserves in Andalusia.
The unique limestone formation gives it an almost surrealistic and creepy feeling. This trip should certainly not be missed during your stay in Finca Serrato.
The majority of the park was under the Tethys ocean about 150 million years ago. The turbulent earth cost caused the then seabed to rise to a height of 1300 meters.
Over the centuries, rain and wind have been the reason that several spectacular limestone formations have been created throughout Europe.
About El Torcal Nature reserve.
The El Torcal Nature Reserve is just under 50 kilometers from Finca Serrato and the road to it is already a wonderful experience in itself.
The closest village is Villanueva de la Concepción and is located on the territory of Antequera.
The area became a national nature reserve in 1929 and then El Torcal was declared a national park in October 1978.
In 1989, the Junta de Andalucia took over the management of the nature reserve and was classified as a National Nature Reserve.
The reserve is known for the most striking karst formations in Europe.
El Torcal owes its unique appearance to the simultaneous operation of various factors, the most important factor being the nature of the limestone itself.
The type of stone from which El Torcal is built belongs to a series of sedimentary rock that dates from the Mesozoic era and consists mainly of carbonate.
Because the higher mountain range Sierra de Torcal receives a lot of rainfall, the region forms a perfect reservoir of underground rivers.
The source of one of the most important rivers of Antequera, the Rio La Villa, lies just at the foot of the Sierra de la Torcal.
Human influence on El Torcal.
Since 5500 BC. people live in the nature reserve. The first evidence can be found in and around the Cueva del Toro.
Various cave paintings and human remains have been found here. Everything points to a permanent settlement in the Copper Age.
This was the period in which metal first appeared. This special part of the megalithic era is of specific interest to Antequera, which coincided with the construction of the Dolmen.
Of course the Romans also left their mark on the construction of roads that lead to the mountain range.
Remains of these are still visible today around the Boca del Asno and the Puerto de las Escanuelas.
The Boca del Asno also played a particularly important role in later history during the battles between the Moors and the Christians.
Splendor of nature.
Among the karst formations are lush, almost tropical valleys full of vegetation and life.
Taking a walk here is a memorable experience. Children definitely have the time of their lives here.
Every path or road that you take is a true journey of discovery. You just can’t get enough of it.
El Torcal is a true flower paradise. Spring is the perfect time for a visit to the Torcal nature reserve.
The orchids are wonderful with their more than 30 identified species.
You get the illusion of a vertical garden of the wild rose bushes and various types of blackberry bushes that grow on the rock walls.
This reserve is also a gold mine for birdwatchers. It is the habitat of various birds of prey such as griffon vultures and golden eagles.
El Torcal is also the ideal living environment for many reptiles. Two of them can often be spotted in the nature park: the lizard snake and the pearl hagadis.
The most visible species in the park is by far the ibex, especially the Iberian mountain goat.
Departure from the visitor center.
The Centro de Recepción or the visitor center is always the starting point of your visit to the park.
It has a restaurant and an exhibition room where you can visit fossils and where presentations are given about the reserve.
Of course there is also a small shop where tickets, books and souvenirs are sold.
Always take a map with you if you want to explore the area independently.
Although the marked routes are well marked, it is still handy to have a map in your pocket.
Many of the karst formations are named after their appearance, such as the knight, the thumb, the camel, the sphinx, the castle, etc. The propeller, El Tornillo, is even a protected natural monument.
So make it a kind of game to discover the different karst formations with your children based on those names. Fun insured.
There are three walking routes through the Nature Reserve subdivided into colors: a green, yellow and red route.
The red route (4.5 km) has limited access and can only be visited with a guide. This is to protect the flora and fauna.
Information about guides can be found in the visitor center.
The green and yellow routes are accessible to everyone and can be visited without a guide.
The green route is the easiest route, it is 1.5 km long and takes approximately 30 minutes.
The yellow route corresponds to the green route but also leads you past some spectacular parts of the park such as rocky labyrinths filled with vegetation.
This route is 3 km long. Both routes start and end at the visitor center.
All routes pass through the “Mirador Las Ventanillas” viewing point. This is a place where you have a beautiful view over the surrounding countryside.
Be sure to follow one of the small paths along the Mirador Las Ventanillas. You will arrive at an area known as the “Ammonites”, where you will see some fantastic fossils.
You can find more information on their website http://www.torcaldeantequera.com/