Navachica - Andalucia - Spain


There is only one path going straight up Navachica, it is described in the guide book as being 7 hours, 17km/10.5 miles with a height gain of 1283m. We thought that we would enjoy this challenge, we did not realise how hard it would be. Read on to see whether we even completed it!!! It is a tough 10-hour walk, up a barranco (steep valley) for 3 hours, with difficult terrain and an ascent of 1335m. It is near the coast, but felt very remote.

The walk starts by Nerja Caves, arriving there by taxi/ or local bus, or by staying as we did at Al-Andalus Hotel nearby. We drove down the track from the caves, starting by the information board, passing Pinarillo recreation area, then after a further 2km we arrived at a bend in the road, where we parked for the start of the walk (8.45am).

At first the path was easy, passing several interesting caves in the cliffs, through vegetation, along an obvious path, with some green dots on the rocks marking the path. Then after 30 mins the green dots disappeared, with small cairns present instead following a dried-up stream bed. After about 40 minutes, instead of climbing up the stream bed, there is an arrow to the left. (However, the one person we saw all day, went straight up the stream-we never saw him again!) We followed the lovely old miners’ track, which then eventually re-joins the stream bed found to the right, before climbing once more in a narrow ravine.

After 2 hours of ascent (485m, 2.5 miles) we were out of the pleasant shade, making it instantly much warmer. It all felt very remote, with the only sound being birds and insects. After 2 hours 30 mins, we had covered 563m of ascent and 3.1 miles. After another 30 minutes we were still in the barranco, 3 hours, 676m of ascent, 3.8 miles. We had seriously misjudged this walk, and I was beginning to wonder if we would ever escape the ravine, should we continue at this very slow pace, but we kept thinking that the terrain would improve. It reminded me of some members of the British SAS getting lost in Lows Gully in Borneo in 1994.

After 3 hours 40 minutes, 815m of ascent, 4.3 miles we finally reached the top of the barranco. But instead of the path getting easier it got worse, with a very steep scree slope, complete with prickly plants and small trees-which we tried to rest under out of the sun. We imagined that we would join a ridge, but after the scree the path goes left through more vegetation. We stopped to eat lunch, 4 hours, 913m of ascent, 4.6 miles. We tossed a coin to see if we should turn round, but still decided to continue. In the far distance just walking down from the summit, we could see 2 figures, what was strange however, was that they just seemed to vanish, and there is no other path. To our right we could see a huge forested valley behind Cielo (mountain). We were very pleased to have a view, but still wondering whether to turn round.


Nearing the top, I left my rucksack under some trees, continuing without it, before we finally reached the top at 2.15pm. The view was fabulous and we could see the snow at the top of the Sierra Nevada. There is a marker post, and some small shelters at

the top. It was windy, and we did not linger for long, taking into consideration of how long the ascent had taken us.

Leaving the top at 2.35pm, picking up my bag again, by 3.20pm we were back at our lunch spot, 1302m ascent, 7.2 miles covered. We really struggled down the very steep scree slope, with no obvious path, using our walking poles to add stability, reaching the top of the barranco at 4pm. It was very difficult walking down the stream bed, (7 hours 45 mins).

On the right was a sign to Almendron (mountain), from the top of Navachica there is an alternative walk down to the top of Almendron, then re-joining our path, but our guide book said it was really difficult!! It was already 5pm, and we had only covered 8.8miles (2.5 hours down from the top). Our route had been really hard, so I can’t imagine what this alternative route would be like.

We turned right at some red marks to the right of the barranco, following the zig zag path undulating through the pine trees. At times, there was stunning scenery down the barranco to the sea, or massive cliffs reminding us of Zion national park in the USA. (5.30pm) At times there had been small landslides (detachments) which had buried the path under unstable rocks-which are quite hard to walk on. We came to the spot where the path re-joins the dried up river, 10.5 miles, 1335m ascent, before finally arriving back at the car at 7.10pm, so happy to have finished the walk, and escape from the barranco.

Distance 11.6 miles (18.5km)

Duration of Walk 10 Hours 10 mins including breaks

Elevation Gained 4,400feet (1335m)

Pace 52 min a mile


Personally, I would not recommend this walk. We spent 3 hours in a barranco (valley). I like seeing big views when walking, not just having the feeling of being trapped in a valley.

The walk was very tough, not just the ascent, but with fairly difficult terrain, lack of signs, and at one point a very tricky scree slope. It is very rare that we consider not going to the top, but on this walk we seriously thought about it, on more than one occasion. In hindsight that would have been the best thing. The view from the top was excellent, but not worth the effort, as there are easier walks in the area, with a similar view. There are not many way-markings, just follow the various cairns and paint marks.

We were lucky that we had hired a SUV car. This enabled us to drive the 5km (20 mins) from Nerja caves past the recreation area to the start. This saved us another 10km on the walk.

As usual wear walking boots, take a phone, sun hats, sun tan lotion and plenty of food and water as after leaving the start there is no-where to replenish supplies. It

can also be chilly on the top (as we found), especially if windy or the clouds roll in, so take a wind proof jacket and hat. I would advise taking a compass too in case you lose your way. Being located in southern Spain, I would advise not doing this walk in the summer months as it would be far too hot, and would require carrying too much water-the stream being completely dry in April too.

Check the weather forecast before setting off, as it would be a shame to walk all this way and have no view.

We stayed close by, and asked for an early breakfast at 7.30am. But, in hindsight we should have just taken our own breakfast, and started the walk as soon as it was light at 7.45am. Maybe we were lulled into a false sense of security with the book saying it was a 7-hour walk. We seriously underestimated how hard this walk was.

We now have Garmin watches. These link to our phones, they can record the walk, and give readings of distance walked, metres climbed, heart rate etc. We are loving them, and are very popular with our Friday walking club!

Better walks that start at the Caves of Nerja, are walking to Fuente del Esparto recreation area, then turning left across the Chillar valley to the beautiful village of Frigiliana, before catching the bus or walking back to Nerja. Or the ascent of Cielo (1508m) which can either be a linear or circular walk again from the Caves. It takes us 4 hours to ascend, 2 hours of which are up a track. Views all the way are fabulous, the path is obvious, and the descent can be relatively quick. The view from the top is better than Navachica too, over the sea and north-east towards Almeria.

We ate dinner at Balcon’s restaurant Balcon de Maro, with lovely food, good service and a view over the sea.

We stayed at Al-Andalus Hotel, near the Caves. The hotel was disappointing, with traffic noise all night, and no evening meal served-which had been mentioned on-line. Breakfast for €6 each is sometimes possible from 8am. When we asked, they kindly served us breakfast at 7.30am. It is a short walk/drive to Maro for dinner, and some small shops. Alternatively, it is a 10-minute drive to Nerja. We wished we had stayed in Nerja.

Nerja can be accessed in an hour from Malaga, either by driving along the motorway, or there is a frequent cheap bus service from Malaga. Then from its terminus in Nerja, a taxi for €5 can be taken, or walk for about 40 minutes to the start. Dinner

Websites used

Resources used

The Mountains of Nerja Cicerone press by Jim Ryan. Walk 16

Rother Guide Andalusia South: Costa Del Sol by Bernhard Plikat, Walk 25 Onto Almendron. This walk follows some of the same route, then ascending Almendron, which could be accessed from Navachica.