Garganta Verde

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Not a long walk. but truly memorable both for the spectacular location and the chance to see the large colony of griffon vultures that nest on both sides of the canyon. The walk starts from the car park just past KM12 on the Zahara to Grazalema road, an experience in itself. Despite its steepness (descent of 200m) the walk is not difficult, as it is generally well prepared with steps cut into the rock in the most tricky sections. The canyon floor once reached is very narrow, filled with large rocks and boulders, but it is possible with care to reach the most dramatic feature La Ermita, a collapsed cave system complete with eroded stalactites and stalagmites and the impressive Garganta Gorge narrow enough and high enough to rival anything Petra has to offer.

It is possible to exit via the canyon to Zahara, but because of blocking boulders and sinkholes this is not possible without climbing equipment to rappel down the steeper sections. Also the gorge, normally dry in all but the wettest months, is flooded at the northern end throughout the year by a pool at least 1m deep. Likewise trying to go further up the canyon will require ropes, as the way is barred just past Waymark 07 by a deep sinkhole. Better to return the way you came down (albeit 200m almost straight up) because this is the best chance to view the griffon vultures. The birds with wingspans up to 2.8m (8-9ft) are present all year and soar majestically over the gorge to their nest sites on either side of the canyon walls. If you really are a glutton for punishment or an avid twitcher, you can divert from the track at Waymark 05 and climb up a steep path to a bird information display where you may be lucky enough to get 'up close and personal' with these impressive birds.

The return from Waymark 05 is interesting for the views of the Pinsapar range, the last refuge of the Mediterranean Pinsapo pines left over from the last Ice Age. See Walkingworld Walk ID 2053.

This walk is in the reservation area where authorization is always required and access is strictly controlled. Permission to do the walk can be obtained from the park offices in El Bosque or the information centre in Grazalema.

Spain - Southern Spain - Cadiz - Grazalema

8/27/2012 - Eva Monika Bratek

Most descriptions of this walk classify it as moderate to high for the following reasons: a)the steep ascent on the way back. B)Some boulders at the bottom of the ravine are quite large and picking your way amongst them takes some effort. C)In the hottest months this walk is not suitable for young children, people who do not deal with heat well or walkers with low fitness levels. Comparing this walk with a completely level Llanos de Ravel which is nearby and classed as easy shows an enormous difference in difficulty. Also, this walk cannot be accessed without a permit from the Grazalema Park authorities. This can be achieved by contacting the Grazalema Tourist Office, best by email in advance as some dates are very popular. The walk is closed to the public from 15th of June to 15th of October but can be accessed with an authorised guide.

10/6/2004 - Lyndon and Jennifer Jolley

The griffon vulture viewing area (Cabildo de los Buitres) after waypoint 5 should be an essential feature of this walk. It must be one of the best wild life sites in Spain with often 50 or more birds within 200m of the platform. The best time to visit is late afternoon/early evening when the birds are returning to the nests. You will not be disappointed.