Along this stage, you can climb the top of the Mesas de Villaverde, a beauty spot with superb views of the gorge Desfiladero de los Gaitanes and the Guadalhorce Valley. You can as well observe birds of prey that fly over this spot or visit the Mozarabic Church of Bobastro.
The Stage travels south-west to Carratraca, with 400 metres in elevation gain in just 3 kilometres, on fairly uneven terrain. This climb takes you up to Las Mesas de Villaverde and the upper reservoir. It then descends on a tarmac track until it reaches the spur of Las Viñas, which has very sparse vegetation covering. Dotted with country houses that are connected by a network of tracks, it also has tiny pockets of primitive Holm oak forest and some shrubs occupying the ancient non-irrigated land.
These ridges form the right flank of the River Guadalhorce, which flows 350 metres below and from which the path now gradually moves away, at a height of 665 metres above sea level. Entering the municipal area of Carratraca, the route dives into the Pine forest of Sierra Blanquilla, with a spectacular sandy path that brings you out at the spa town.
It then changes course to north-west as far as Ardales, dropping down to Las Cañas stream and passing under the A-357 road. The rest of the stage consists mainly of uphill tracks all the way to the Puerto de Málaga pass and then gradually coming down as you take a detour around the Cerro del Olivo hill. The route reaches its destination not far past La Torre and the Chapel of El Calvario, close to the Rock of Ardales and its castle.
Beginning in the municipality of Álora, it soon passes through that of Ardales until kilometre 13.4. From here, it is on to Carratraca territory’s, before returning to Ardales at the Puerto de Málaga (km 18.5) until the finish line.
The real highlight here is the scenery as you go from one lookout point to another. You are rewarded with views over the Nature Reserve of the Gaitanes Gorge, the Guadalhorce valley, the Blanquilla and Agua hills and the Turón river valley. The Cerro San Pedro is another excellent viewpoint, but this time over a large expanse of the province of Malaga. It also links two historically and archaeologically important sites. The first is the Mozarab ruins of Bobastro castle and church, founded by the eminent Umar Ibn Hafsun and the second, the thermal baths of Carratraca, founded by Trinidad Grund, along with another of her pioneering tourism projects nearby, the Ardales Cave.
The diversity of landscape during the walk is astounding, as the path takes you to various vantage points overlooking the Paraje Natural Desfiladero de los Gaitanes Gaitanes Natural Beauty Spot, El Chorro, el Valle del Guadalhorce, La Sierra del Agua and Ardales plus the Turón River valley.
The hydroelectric power station of Contraembalse del Tajo de la Encantada and the Presa de Villaverde dam are worth the effort you will need to make, walking along a reinforced pipe, from the former to the latter one.
Very few walks present a similar opportunity to approach two historical and archaeological sites of such importance as the Mozarabic Ruins of Bobastro, founded by the ineffable Umar Ibn Hafsún, and Ardales Cave (also called Doña Trinidad Grund´s Cave, after the person responsible for preparing the cave for visitors as an addition to the thermal baths of Carratraca).
The cave had been occupied from the upper Palaeolithic, and it was subsequently blocked off and then rediscovered in 1821 as a result of an earthquake which uncovered the entrance again. It contains more than 50 cave paintings and engravings, such as animal figures, abstract motifs and symbols, and even a silhouette of human hands depicted using airbrush technique. You need to book beforehand to visit the cave.