- El Chorro
In mid-winter, and for climbers who wont have a car, El Chorro is a great place to go. It's located about 40mins (by car or by train) from Malaga, on the southern coast of Spain. We arrived via a ~5hr drive after renting a car in Madrid. There is a RENFE (Spain's rail system) station stop IN the tiny village of El Chorro, just a 5-20 minute walk from camping, hostels, and hundreds of pitches of limestone. Here are a few things to keep in mind about El Chorro.
- The climbing is not (on average) as good as the crags farther north. There are many, many exceptions which are amazing routes, but pitch-for-pitch it's not a as good as elsewhere.
- If you DO have a car, some of the better crags in Andalusia were Loja (awesome tufas, nice views) and nearby to El Chorro, Desplomilandia.
- The standout wall at El Chorro is the Makinodromo, which is a very long wall with a huge range of pitch styles and grades, basically from 5.11-5.14. Despite what the guidebook says, 100% of the climbers we ran into at this wall used the same (illegal) approach - walk along the trail track, through the train tunnel, for about 20 minutes from the station in town. When you have gone through 3 or 4 short tunnels, the wall is obvious up and the right. Expect 45 minutes to get there.
- DO NOT, under ANY CIRCUMSTANCES go to the crag "Archidona". Although the guidebook describes it as one of the world's premier venues for hard sport climbing, it has been fenced off and is now used to contain huge flocks of sheep. Since it's a giant cave with no exposure to rain or sun, and is now a giant barn with nobody to clean it, and it currently exists only as one of the world's premier manure piles.
- Stay - We rented an awesome apartment (Jose - the nicest guy ever) with wi-fi, 2 bedrooms, and a rooftop patio for ~$200/week in the nearby village of Ardales, which has a few restaurants, groceries stores, and is very near El Chorro, Turon crags, and Desplomilandia. The owner/rent is a very friendly guy named Jose ( or Joe, or Pepe) - and his bar (Joe's bar, next door) has free wifi and billiards. People staying in El Chorro itself had good things to say about The "Finca" and the Olive Branch hostels.
- Guidebook - The Rockfax El Chorro Guide has El Chorro beta and also has info for other great Andalusian crags.
- Eat - The best food in the area, without a doubt, is a few minutes toward Malaga from El Chorro/Ardales. It's a tiny family-run restaurant called Casa Fonda Pepa with a set daily menu and you will be served so much good food you will not know how anyone could eat it all. This is served in the afternoon (open from 2-4pm if I recall) - so go on a rest day, walk around the village of Carratraca, and buy the ~$10 lunch. It is across the street from the very famous (and well-signed) thermal baths in the town.
- Rest Days - Check out the 1000+ year-old ruins of the Muslim bandit, Bobastro - tour the huge limestone caves of Ardales, go to the beach or Picasso Museum in Malaga, or walk the unforgettable system of slowly-breaking stone sidewalks high above the river gorge - The Camino Del Rey