Rivers and Waters
he village which is the start of the stage is famous for its springs, which have traditionally fed the fertile orchards of Ojén. In fact, the pueblo is located between two streams: Almadán and Real, and the terraced orchards along the banks form a unique landscape until the fork of the two streams.
The natural springs in the surroundings of the village (of Almadan) Chorrillo and the Cañada de la Puente) are located to the west and, as it usually happens, they fl ow from a limestone flank. Another watercourse to the east is more stable and comes from peridotite. It culminates as the Río Real, which fl ows directly into the Mediterranean. One of the tributaries of this river in its upper basin is the Arroyo del Tejar, accompanying you on the right of the path until it crosses the path in Cordobachina. There is
a sign before reaching the cemetery which points to the pedestrian access to the Charco de las Viñas, a pretty pond situated under large blocks of peridotite in the river bed which is quite enclosed and covered with willows.
The southern flank of Sierra Alpujata or Sierra Negra is the headwater of the Fuengirola river basin. The Puerto de los Carneros at 450 metres in altitude prevents any runoff from flowing towards the west, while the Cerro de Juana Díaz (508 m) and la Loma del Puerto prevent water draining to the south. This is the reason why the streams which have their origin in this part of the sierra (on its southern slopes, which is where the walk crosses it) head towards the east. You need to ford or cross the consecutive streams of Jobretín, Majar de Hinojo and Majar de la Parra; all merge to form the river Ojén.
This river course meanders between peridotite, away from the GR, but is invariably on your right for half of the duration of the walk. All these streams are permanent in nature, as evidenced by the Chub and Barbel which can be seen in the deeper natural pools, sometimes in large numbers. Riparian vegetation might not be too diverse or that lush, since the peridotite soils are very limiting and contain heavy metals. There are, however, willows, oleanders, reeds and heaths in the river groves. Other river courses appear in the area of Entrerríos. The Arroyo del Laurel is the fi rst one, and it descends from the Puerto de la Alberca and then crosses into the area of Candelero, where there is the Pine of Candelero.
The other two watercourses are at the lowest area, El Río de las Pasadas (or Alaminos) and the Arroyo de los Pilones. As mentioned, both should be considered “ramblas”, watercourses where the water disappears for much of the year due to the permeability of the land. In a place so dry and punished by the sun in summer and flooding in winter only tamarisk have managed to adapt, several metres away from the centre of the riverbed or streambed.
The proliferation of kitchen gardens, country houses and residential areas in the Entrerríos hamlet, including its name (between rivers), are due to the close meeting point of the Río Ojén and Pasadas as they from Fuengirola river, which flows a few kilometres further down beside the Castillo de Sohail.
During the ascent of Mijas and its sierra, you are walking along a line which is quite far away from the little valleys which also drain into these rivers but only in rainy season, hampering the existence of even the kind of riparian vegetation better adapted to droughts. Additionally, in limestone mountains water tends to circulate underground which results in extremely dry landscapes of sand and stone.
This text, describing Stage 32, would have been completely different if not for the many forest fires which have happened during the recent years, the 2012 being the most memorable due to its magnitude. The fires in the summer of 2014 have also contributed to the changed look of the area. Along the major part of the stage forest bird communities have been, quite simply, ruined, and where there used to be well established populations of Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Nuthatches, Long-tailed Tits and Jays, nowadays you can just see, with a bit of luck, Crested Larks, Stonechats, Sardinian and Dartford Warblers, Goldfinches, Linnets, Rock Buntings and Swifts pursuing insect in flight. In spite of this, good stands of cork oak can be found along the way and you will come across some scrub and isolated trees, mainly Canary Island pines and eucalyptus, which harbour long-established birdlife.
Both in Ojén and in Mijas you can enjoy the typical urban birds and in the cultivated areas you may be able to discover species which, possibly, have found here an environment closest to the pre-fire woodland.
In Ojén you will have an opportunity to see such urban-dwelling birds as Collared Dove, Pallid and Common Swift, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Spotless and Common Starling, House Sparrow, Black Redstart in winter and White Wagtail and Meadow Pipit on the outskirts of the village close to water. Very soon the first orchards appear, some of them including tropical fruit trees, and you can see the Common Blackbird, European Robin, Sardinian Warbler, Great Tit and finches such as Goldfinch, Serin, Greenfinch and Common Chaffinch.
The areas of scrub which follow next, the domain of Mediterranean dwarf palm, juniper, gorse and esparto grass, hold such species as Turtle Dove, Red-necked Nightjar, Bee-eater, Crested Lark, Common Stonechat, Song Thrush, Zitting Cisticola, Dartford Warbler, Melodious Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Woodchat Shrike and Rock Bunting. As Stage 32 continues, it crosses a stand of cork where you can also see Blue Tit, Nuthatch, Short-toed Treecreeper and Jay. Starting from the area called Cordobachina, the first signs of the past forest fires mentioned earlier are becoming visible. From this point, along a good stretch of the stage, the prevailing vegetation consists of sprouting Canary Island pines and eucalyptus trees which have survived the flames. In spite of the efforts to reforest the area, it will take years for the Great Spotted Woodpeckers, nuthatches and Long-tailed Tits inhabit the place again and to create stable populations.
Surprisingly, Booted and Short-toed eagles as well as Goshawks and Sparrowhawks continue to be seen here, also Green Woodpeckers and Golden Orioles are still heard around the streams. In spring of 2014 it was confirmed that a pair of Short-toed Eagles nested and reproduced atop a burnt tree. Similarly, a pair of Bonelli´s Eagle breeds along Stage 32, using a cork oak tree which has survived the 2012 fire.
The southern slopes of Sierra Alpujata and Sierra Blanca are good areas to see soaring birds on migration and one of the best viewpoints is located at the Cerrro del Púlpito, only a few metres away from The Great Malaga Path, not far from the “centro de tratamiento y rehabilitación contra la drogadicción” (drug addiction rehabilitation and treatment centre). The Additional Information section contains description of the site. The site also provides a chance to see the Eagle Owl, Raven, Peregrine Falcon, Black Wheatear, and, before the fire, the scarce Bullfinch used to be present during winter season.
The downhill section leading from the viewpoint has also been burnt; the track is lined with recovering Canary Island pines all the way up to the Entrerríos area. In this area the river bed forms several pools which contain water year round and you will note how the diversity and abundance of birds is significantly higher compared to the previous part of the stage. Wood Pigeon, Turtle Dove, Cuckoo, Grey Wagtail, Common Nightingale, Cetti´s Warbler, Blackcap and Spotted Flycatcher appear, so does the Cirl Bunting and again Tits and Finches turn up, as they did at the start of Stage 32.
From this point to Sierra de Mijas you will come across gorse and broom scrub harbouring Sardinian Warbler and Dartford Warbler and species typical of open spaces. Ermita del Calvario chapel, surrounded by large stone pine trees, marks the arrival in Mijas. Walking down to the village again you can see birds which are typically found in populated areas.