The Gorge Desfiladero de los Gaitanes is a natural beauty spot, placed in the centre of the province, between the towns of Alora, Antequera and Ardales. This is one of the most beautiful spots of the Malaga Mountains. Between its steep and considerably high walls, the River Guadalhorce flows, after having passed through the reservoirs El Chorro (The Spurt), Guadalhorce, Guadalteba and Gaitanejo.
The Gaitanes Gorge is a canyon, carved by the river Guadalhorce in the territory of Álora, which at some points is only 10 meters wide and 700 meters deep. The nothern access to it is via Guadalhorce reservoirs and the southern is via El Chorro.
The construction of a water channel from the reservoirs in the north to El Chorro, which was meant to make the most of the slope in a hydroelectric power station, was carried out together with a path for maintaining the channel. This one is known as El Caminito del Rey Path (The Kings’s Little Pathway) because it was first opened by King Alfonso XIII. This path, about 3 kilometers long, has just been refurbished, and it goes along vertical walls and a footbridge over the gorge on the same waterway.
Until the arrival of the High Speed Train (AVE), the gorge was the only rail access to Málaga from the inland part of Andalusia, with a long tunnel in the east wall of the gorge. Today, there is another tunnel located one kilometer east, under Huma Mountain, used as an access by high-speed rail.
Aleppo pines, stone pines, holm oaks and eucalyptuses make the tree population, supplemented with scrub, particularly junipers, Sabine junipers, Mediterranean fan palms, brooms and rockroses. Vegetation on the riverbank comprises rushes, reeds, canes, oleanders and tamarisks, as well as some poplars and willows.
Notable among the fauna are mountain birds such as the Egyptian vulture, griffon vulture golden eagle and honey buzzard, to name but a few. Several species of amphibians and numerous reptiles (eyed lizards and ladders, Montpellier and viperine snakes) are to be found here. The mountain goat inhabits the upper reaches, along with foxes, rabbits, dormice, badgers and genets.
The sections on two stages of the Great Málaga Path (GR 249), stage 20 that runs between Campillos (Guadalhorce Reservoirs) and Alora (El Chorro Train Station), and stage 21, between Alora (El Chorro Train Station) and Ardales, offer information on landscapes, rivers, water, flora and fauna of this area. For more information click on the links to these two stages.