General Description: A circular walk mainly on a good, wide track with one section up a rough narrow path.
Distance: 13 kilometres, 4 hours
Essential: Wind and waterproofs, boots
Start: Take the road to Casares from the roundabout at Bahia Casares on the A7 - N340. Go past Venta Victoria on your left, about ½ kilometre further to a parking area on your right. You will have passed the start of the walk that is signposted about 50 metres back down the road.
This walk takes you past the vulture restaurant that is not a sight for the faint hearted or those with a queasy stomach. To avoid this you can turn around where the text indicates to do a there and back walk of similar distance.
Follow the signpost from the road, a map showing the route is a few metres down the track. A few metres further is a junction where you turn right. The post with the green and white stripe at this junction is the last you will see for about 5 kilometres so don't worry. The track takes you to the bottom of the valley past some very nice fincas and villas.
At the bottom of the valley you will see the track crosses a stream via a concrete bridge. Do not go this way, bear right and cross the stream a little further down then start climbing gradually until you reach a 'T' junction. Turn left here and stay on the main track as it gradually climbs through mixed woodland and through a cork oak wood that has been very expertly cropped this year leaving deep mahogany trunks. Over the valley to your left you will see a notice board high on a ridge. This is the site of the vulture restaurant. Carcasses of dead animals are left here for the vultures. On the day we did this walk there were over 40 vultures circling or feeding. You will suddenly emerge from the wood on top of a ridge with breathtaking views towards Estepona and over the sea.
Slightly left and ahead you will see green and white stripes on a rock. The very rough, but well marked, path takes you up the ridge with Los Reales ahead. This stretch can be very windy so be careful. You will find you have climbed to quite a height, really without noticing, when you reach a summit on the ridge. This is where you can turn around if you do not fancy joining the vultures for lunch.
For everybody else the way is straight on and relatively flat as the rough path takes you into the mouth of a deep valley in the side of Los Reales. The path suddenly becomes a track again and swings round the head of the valley. There are quite a few of the Spanish fir trees up this valley that only grow in this area and in the Sierra Bermeja range.
It was at this point that we spotted a snake basking on the track. Only about half a metre long and very thin, it had a diamond shaped head and black velvety looking skin with pale diamond shaped markings. It also had a surprising turn of speed and provided Julie with two first time experiences, first seeing a snake in the wild, second being chased by a wild snake.
Emerging from the valley the track takes you round a shoulder and you will find yourself above the vulture restaurant. It is only when you see these birds up close that you realise how large they are.
Continue back down into the valley and then the long slog up the other side to regain the road and your car. This walk will be listed as a favourite, for the views, particularly on the exposed ridge, the contrasts, and the plant life which will be at its best around April.
© Nicholas Craig Nutter 2004 - 2012. Nick Nutter asserts his rights as the author of this article and all associated images. This article and images may not be copied or reproduced in any way without written permission of the author.