El Torcal de Antequera Nature Reserve is home to one of the most impressive areas of karst (limestone) landscapes anywhere in Europe. It is located at just 1 h drive from Malaga city to the North. Looking for birds through these prehistoric alleys is a truly unique experience. This tour offers the opportunity to experience and photograph some amazing scenery and maybe Orchids. Close to El Torcal is the city of Antequera, recently awarded Uneso Site for the Torcal, the Dolmens and the "face-looking" Rock -Peña de los Enamorados-. Our guide, Álvaro Peral, was once based in Antequera and shows a special love to what he calls "his" Torcal. He's also proud to have lead the first ornithological tour organized by its visitors' centre (trip report here).
ITINERARY: We will start at the base of the magnificient cliffs of the Sierra del Torcal, from where we may be able to see Málaga and the coast if it's not misty. Then we'll continue and walk deep into the limestone alleys, where some rock birds such as Blue Rock Thrush and Black Redstarts will welcome us to the very heart of El Torcal. The focus of the day will be looking for a variety of rock birds, Melodious Warblers, Stonechats, Thekla Larks, etc. We should see some Iberian Ibex nearby, and subject to the time of year a variety of sylvia warblers. We should also encounter a variety of wild flowers during the spring, including wild peonies and some orchids. The Torcal counts with a fully equiped visitor centre, where we can make a short stop.
PACE: Most of the birding on this tour is done on foot. The paths in the Torcal are stony and treacherous although not steep. We only recommend this tour if you are used to walking on rocky terrain.
TIMING: Tour duration is 4,5 h if we leave from Antequera. Likewise, the tour duration is 7-8 h if leaving from Ronda. In the latter case we will take some time to stop at a local bar for lunch.
TEMPORALITY: This is a year round trip. Spring is always the best time to visit the Torcal, being at its best from mid April to mid June. Summer months will make necessary an early start. Winter is only recommended when the weather forecast indicates clear sky for the reserve is pront to high fogs. In spring it is advisable to avoid weekends.
MEETING: Meeting can be arranged in Antequera and in Ronda.
BASED IN MALAGA? : If you are based in Málaga, we propose you taking a quick train to "Antequera Santa Ana", where we can also meet you. The trip takes just 23 min and return tickets cost from 8,70 eur. Train info here. We recommend the following:
Take the 08:35 train in Málaga María Zambrano and meet us at Antequera Santa Ana station at 08:56. After the trip you will be on time at Antequera Santa Ana station to catch the 14:17 train that will get you back in Málaga at 14:45.
WHAT IT IS INCLUDED
- Transportation (for free)
- Local Bird guide fluent in English
- Use of binoculars and scope
- Birdguides in English
- Bird checklist
- All taxes
WHAT IT IS EXCLUDED
- Meals and drinks
- If you prefer direct pick up and drop-off outside the Ronda or Antequera radius of 20 km, A SUPPLEMENT FEE WILL BE APPLIED
- A good pair of boots or old shoes will be of a great value
- If you'd like us to provide you with a hiking pole, please let us know
WHY CHOSE THIS TRIP
- Impressive karst formations make you feel you're walking on the moon
- Scenic views throughout the walk
- Great chances to photograph Iberian Ibex
- 2 species of fossils
- If you like a bit of hiking, this is your tour
Birds to see in El Torcal
Year round: Black Redstart, Black Wheatear, Blackbird, Blackcap, Blue Rock Thrush, Blue Tit, Bonelli’s Eagle, Chaffinch, Chough, Cirl Bunting, Collared Dove, Corn Bunting, Crag Martin, Dartford Warbler, Eagle Owl, Goldfinch, Great Tit, Greenfinch, Griffon Vulture, Hoopoe, House Sparrow, Iberian Grey Shrike, Kestrel, Linnet, Little Owl, Peregrine Falcon, Raven, Red-legged Partridge, Rock Bunting, Rock Dove, Rock Sparrow, Sardinian Warbler, Serin, Short-toed Treecreeper, Sparrowhawk, Spotless Starling, Stonechat, Thekla Lark, Wren.
Winter birds: Alpine Accentor, Chiffchaff, Dunnock, Meadow Pipit, Ring Ouzel, Robin, Song Thrush, White Wagtail.
Summer birds: Alpine Swift, Orphean Warbler, Barn Swallow, Bee-eater, Black-eared Wheatear, Booted Eagle, Melodious Warbler, Pallid Swift, Quail, Red-rumped Swallow, Scops Owl, Short-toed Eagle, Subalpine Warbler, Swift, Turtle Dove, Western Bonelli’s Warbler, Woodchat Shrike, Rock Thrush.
On migration: Redstart, Wheatear, Spotted Flycatcher, Honey Buzzard, Bee-eater.
Want some flamingos?
Very often we have requests for adding a visit to the nearby Fuentepiedra lagoon. This is the biggest lagoon in Andalucía and is also considered the largest Greater Flamingo colony in Spain. With all this, how not to be interested in doing both sites on the same trip?
A visit to this Ramsar site will add a couple of hours to the trip and for sure an nice array of birds. Some of the birds that can be seen here are White-headed duck (year round), Common Crane (winter) and Lesser Kestrel (summer). More info about birding in Fuente de Piedra lagoon.
OUR FARES (TORCAL)
- 1 person: 150 €
- 2 people: 75 € each
- 3 people: 60 € each
- 4 people: 45 € each
- 5 people: 40 € each
- 6 people: 35 € each
- 7 people: 30 € each
OUR FARES (TORCAL + FLAMINGO LAGOON)
- 1 person: 180 €
- 2 people: 90 € each
- 3 people: 70 € each
- 4 people: 60 € each
- 5 people: 50 € each
- 6 people: 40 € each
- 7 people: 35 € each