Rivers and Waters
The Chíllar river has recently become well known to people who practice white water sports at a beginner´s level. The close proximity of the river to Nerja and the eastern Costa del Sol, low level of diffi culty, and its four spectacular “cahorros”, make the river a very powerful magnet. The river has become a focal meeting point for visitors. Despite the influx of people, the river shows an acceptable level of conservation (except for some graffiti and occasional rubbish). However, it is diffi cult to see any animals around here except for the least busy times.
The riverbed has been compacted by the cementing effect calcium dissolved in water has on the pebbles and boulders. Most frequently seen plants are Oleander, cane, brambles and rushes; they do not, however, manage to form galleried woods.
El Canal del Río Chíllar taps into the river waters higher upstream, actually quite close to the walk, through a major water channel over 6 km long which carries the water at a level high enough to power the electricity station, while the river itself loses height. The channel is accessible but not recommended for people who have vertigo or who aren´t skilful enough to walk along it.
El Río Higuerón also has its own history of exploitation; in this case it was used for irrigation of both traditional and the new sub-tropical crops. Towards the end of Stage 5 you will find El Pozo de Batán, an enormous water deposit with a water pipe which now substitutes the old “acequia”, the aqueduct-type water channel This is a spectacular place. It is worth the walk uphill along the river to see its “cahorros”, the rocks hanging low over the river gullies. You will find Osyris quadripartita, Carthamus arborescens and also a novelty, Rhamnus alaternus, along the river bed at the end of the path. The water pipes you will find only a few metres under the Pozo Batán water tank, supply irrigation water left over from a spring called Lizar. This spring, situated above Frigiliana centre, supplies the town with drinking water. Both rivers are quite boxed in by the rocks which make them shady and also narrower. This results in scarcity of flora, restricted to various willow species.
Oleander is the great survivor of floods and droughts, together with rushes and cane. Travertine rock is very important along these limestone rivers. In the travertine, above the water, you will find thriving Southern Maidenhair Fern and Blue Throatwort.
On the banks there are abundant large lentiscs and Spanish Boxwood mixed with thick Aleppo Pines. El Barranco de la Coladilla, a gully which runs along the left side of the dirt track up to the Área Recreativa del Pinarillo, although smaller than the other two river beds, is full of crevices and interesting rock-dwelling vegetation. There are some access points on foot leading to it (not waymarked) from the GR-249.
From the very beginning of Stage 5, at the Nerja cave, you will have a chance to see typical forest-dwelling bird communities which become more abundant as you walk up into the pine woods. The impressive cliffs and summits of the Sierra Almijara will let you get familiar with mountain bird species and watch some of the large raptors. The areas of bare rock support species typical of that sort of environment and they are abundant enough to ensure sightings of some outstanding rock-dwelling species; the rock faces you will be passing by deserve a bit of binocular time. The scrub and vegetation around the Río Chillar and Higuerón also mark the presence of characteristic species.
This stage of the walk gets you closer to a mountainous area and because of that you are able to watch mountain inhabitants such as Bonelli´s Eagle and Eagle Owl. At the starting point typical urban dwellers are present (basically Eurasian Collared Dove, House Sparrow, Spotless Starling and Black Redstart in winter), however the landscaped area around the Nerja cave attracts a high diversity of forest species typical of the woods which you will be passing through along Stage 5. This way, from the very beginning you can see Firecrest, Short-toed Treecreeper, Spotted Flycatcher, Great Tit, Coal and Crested Tit and Common Chaffinch.
Along the stage the woodland birds are the most profuse ones, additionally to the above mentioned you can find European Turtle Dove, Common Blackbird, Common Chiffchaff, Eurasian Jay, Common Linnet, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Serin and Rock Bunting. In winter such species as White Wagtail, European Robin, Song Thrush and Eurasian Siskin also frequent many places along Stage 5. In the surroundings of Chillar and Higuerón rivers you can watch Grey Wagtail, Common Nightingale, Cetti´s Warbler, Blackcap, Wren, Golden Oriole and Cirl Bunting.
Other species which can be spotted along Stage 5 are Bonelli´s Eagle, Booted Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Red-necked Nightjar, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Black Redstart, Black Wheatear, Common Stonechat, Blue Rock Thrush, Song Thrush, Sardinian Warbler, Woodchat Shrike, Spotless and Common Starling, Rock Bunting.