near El Chorro, Andalucía (España)
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Although I have hiked hundreds of route in Andalucia, and many in El Chorro, I had never taken the route from El Chorro to Bobastro. So, I decided to do it with a small group of friends one Sunday morning in January. We parked the car near the Electric Power Station, and started up the mountain on a path which starts from there. It is a very steep climb, but not otherwise difficult, until the Encantada Dam on the top. It is an amassing experience to climb up 350 meters and find a Dam at the top. Part of the walk around the Dam is closed, but a bit further on it is permitted to use the wide walkway. After leaving the Dam we passed the ruins of the settlement of Bobastro where we had our snack from a point with spectacular views and we went from there to the Restaurnat at the top for a coffee. From there, we returned towards the Dam and we began to descend in the direction of the Ruins of Bobastro. We saw the ruins through the trees, and to avoid walking the road we entered the wood without following any really obvious path. We arrived at the Ruins which are spectacular. Returning along the path we met a young lady with a group of tourists. She greeted us saying "You should not be here". Asking her "Why", she said "You have to pay €3 to get in and for the guide". We told her that as "hikers" we walk mountain paths, we didn't open any gates, we didn't climb over any fences and we did not need a guide. She sent us off saying, "You must leave here" All in all, a real example of very bad manners towards a group of Spanish and foreign hikers. Apart from putting up a fence and gate at the entrance from the road, the Local Government of Ardales has taken down the information panels in order to force the visitors to use the services of the guides. From here we walked down the road until we found a pathway lon the right which brought us through lovely mountain area. Here we saw some hawks, and a small group of mountain goats. We joined the road again near the Hermitage of Our Lady of Villanverde. We again walked along the road back to the car. From the road we could see the works of the new "Caminito del Rey", which is to open around Easter 2015. Apart from the annoyance of the encounter with the bad humoured guide, this is a lovely route, highly recommended, with a variety of landscapes and views. The climb up is difficult, and is only suitable for experienced hikers. It is not for Sunday walkers.