This part of the route goes along a gentle slope, and around Malaga’s airport. A long part of the stage follows the Guadalhorce River, inhabited by diverse species of water birds, until it arrives at the beginning of this whole route at Misericordia beach.
Stage 35 brings the main route of the Great Malaga Path to a close. In doing this, it connects the town of Alhaurín de la Torre with the city of Málaga, passing through the wide Guadalhorce valley. The landscape is shared between the airport area, the expanse of irrigated farmland, the estuary of the province’s most important river and the metropolitan areas. The Path should follow a straight line running north-west to south-east, however it is forced to weave its way around a number of obstacles. Nevertheless, this allows you to get to know each of these sites in greater depth, since they form an important part of 21st Century Malaga’s identity.
El Peñón de Zapata (or the Rock of Zapata) is a district of Alhaurín de la Torre, and is the gateway into the municipal area of Málaga, which begins at the junction of some main tracks at kilometre 3.
The stage is almost entirely flat, with just a slight descent near the start. There is little else that presents any difficulty, except the 13 kilometres along mostly well-maintained tracks. Be aware that in the rainy season, they can get a little muddy, especially near the Guadalhorce.
If there is one area of the Province of Malaga with a certain urban vitality or dynamism, it is undoubtedly that under the influence of the Provincial capital. At times, it has suffered from the improvisation of previous eras and, at others, it has tried to respond to population growth with modern infrastructure and developments. This last stage helps one understand the capital’s geographical location, on the level terrain between the uplands of the Sierra de Mijas and the Montes de Málaga. These flood plains are formed of sedimentary materials that the River Guadalhorce, and to a lesser extent the Guadalmedina have deposited over millennia.
Being so close to the capital, the agricultural and natural aspects of the route are surprisingly evident throughout. The Great Path provides access here to a true oasis of biodiversity and is an essential resting spot for the intercontinental migration of birds, the Mouth of the Guadalhorce Nature Reserve.
If there is an area of overwhelming urban dynamism, it would definitely be the area of Málaga and its surroundings infl uenced by the capital. At times it is guilty of improvisation, at times, probably more so, trying to adapt to the daily influx of population. The design of its infrastructures and housing estates seems chaotic as a result, especially to the eyes of a first-time visitor.
However, the fundamental task of stage 35 is to help the visitor understand how the location of the capital city of Málaga province influenced the situation. Málaga is situated in a cone-shaped sedimentary area which the river Guadalhorce (and Guadalmedina to a lesser extent) have been feeding deposits throughout the millennia, between the Sierra de Mijas and los Montes de Málaga. For a walk which is so close to the capital city, the natural and the agricultural are both present to a surprising degree along the whole walk.
This is precisely the main advantage of stage 35 to bear in mind. As the GR gets closer to Málaga, it leaves behind population centres directly linked to tending the fertile fluvial terraces and crops of citrus trees, artichokes, melons and other vegetables and fruit; this is a curious landscape which international flights passing overhead every day. As if trying to postpone the GR´s arrival in the urban area, the long ribbon of the Guadalhorce follows the path for quite a long stretch but at a prudent distance, given the unbridled nature of this natural drainage basin which serves almost the entire province.
One of the best options for the walk could be setting off to discover how this major watercourse enters the Mediterranean, creating a true oasis of biodiversity between Torremolinos and Málaga. This site was declared Paraje Natural Desembocadura del Guadalhorce in 1989, preserving this magnificent coastal site to allow birdlife a stop during their transcontinental migratory passage and a place to breed.