Monday, March 12, 2012

Wild Camping El Chorro


From talking to the locals and asking about a bit we found that there were several unofficial wild camp spots in the woods just above the official camp site but they were often moved on by the Guardia Civil but if you kept a low profile and kept away from the crowds you can avoid this. During our stay we never had any trouble with either the Guardia Civil or other campers and had a fantastic stay.

What you need for camping in El Chorro:

  1. Warm sleeping bag -5 degrees comfort if you plan to camp in winter
  2.  A cheap tent that is easy to erect and take down should you be moved on
  3.  Tent games – It gets cold and dark by 7pm and so having games to play like bananagrams or cards helps pass the time
  4.  Slack line (optional) – We took a slack line and spent nearly every evening on this which was great fun and a great way of getting to know other campers

There are several campsites to choose from and which one you choose will be best decided by how sociable you want to be and how much space is available. Some of these campsite can get very crowded in the winter season. We went out climbing one day and left our tent in the central campsite with no one around. When we returned there were close to 15 tents around us tightly packed in and washing drying on every tree branch.

Potential Camp sites:

This is a basic map of the area below Fontales. The 3 campsites mentioned are of reasonable size and have relatively flat groud compared to the surrounding area. Just after the path which leads to the campsites there is a “Parc Nacional” sign and a wooden storage box opposite which makes finding the right path easier. The campsites are not visable from the road which makes them ideal places to stay but slightly difficult to find the first time searching.

Camp 1: Europa Zone
The left hand campsite was the most popular with one. It's well hidden from the road and has the flatest ground as well as make shift log benches and fire pits but also the one that was reportedly moved on by the gaurdia civil now and again.

Camp 2: Camp Cuatro
Hidden away from the road like camp 1, its location offers some good flat areas and plenty of space with easy access to the surrounding crags. It's only downfall is that it has a path that runs right through the middle of it that is used now and again by people descending from the crags. It is the quietest of the 3 camps and also has stone built fire pits.

Camp 3: Camp Chesht
Situated near to a car park, this is the most exposed of the 3 campsites but also one with a large area of flat ground, many fire pits and plenty of area to place multiple tents. Its within a 30 second walk of camp 2 which is handy if its a busy season.

A few other things to remember when wild camping is that the water from taps and water springs which you see about is either undrinkable or tastes horrible! There is a local super market in town in which you can buy large quantities of water which seems the best idea and then keep it in your tent.

There are several fruit tree's about the village which drop nectarines and Lemons which can be used with cooking or drinks to add some flavour. This is especially nice if your really on a budget and wants something different from plain pasta and water to get by!

If you feel like splashing out a few euros the Olive Branch guest house near Encantadas offers a shower and tea service for 3 euros a person which can give some rest bite to your aching and smelling body after many days in the sun.

Hitch hiking to Alora the local town i have been told is not too difficult. Food and beer is much cheaper there and offers other services such as internet cafes and a post office (Correos) to keep in touch with loved ones.

Please remember wild camping in El Chorro is illegal and this is purely for reference should you choose to enjoy breaking the law :)

Road trip El Chorro

Road Trip: Camping and Climbing in El Chorro

Since I last blogged we’ve been out on adventures and driven the entire North to South of Spain in search of friends and adventure!

Our original plan was to drive south to Madrid and camp at one of the many crags that surround its West side. This however was not to be. Upon arriving in Madrid it was clear that it wasn’t the best place to be camping in February as the temperature was around -6 degrees and being outside for more than 5 minutes was unbearable even wearing multiple layers of thermals and a down jacket.

It was late in the night and we had already been driving for around 6 hours but we decided the best decision would be to continue driving south to El Chorro were we were sure the temperatures where higher and the climbing was sunny

For anyone thinking of driving through Spain the views are pleasant and the roads are quiet and easy to drive with plenty of places to stop on the way in the day and night.

We drove south for another 5 hours passing quickly and quietly through the Spanish countryside. We eventually arrive in Antequarra, a small town North East of El Chorro and became quite lost. The European road map we had was rubbish for negotiating the small and badly marked roads that lead to the gorge where we planned to stay and so we stopped to ask directions at a petrol station.

We walked in to find a lady around 5’10 making coffee and doing a general tidy up. In my bet Spanglish i asked which way it was to the gorge. I was surprised when she replied to me in perfect English, telling me that her husband was English and that we were very close. Two police officers then walked in and collaboratively between the three of them and the police radio we got some directions which took us to Campillos and then south.

We followed these directions but again got hopelessly lost. We stopped again for directions and eventually pieced together where we were and made our destination around 7am.
We couldn’t find a camping spot on the hillside and so decided for now we should sleep in the car. It was an uncomfortable night’s sleep in a packed out Fiesta with seats that would barely recline and a cramped foot well.

The next day we woke and drove down to the Olive Branch. This was the premier place to stay in El Chorro and get information on all the latest routes, access to remote crags and of course PARTY! My mates from Leicester were staying here and later in the week we expected our friends from Essex to arrive. I parked up and had a mooch about the Olive Branch but couldn’t see anyone. Just as i was about to leave I heard the familiar voice of one of my best mates Henry who had seen me searching about through the dining room window.

Everyone came out and we hugged and had a catch up and began planning the logistics of our stay and what routes we wanted to do. Now although our friends were staying at the olive Branch, Me and Joe had very little money and could barely afford the drive there and back let alone accommodation.


We spent a week here enjoying the sun and having a great time but had to return home after just 9 days but with great memories. Some of my favourite are the Camino Del Ray with the guys from Essex which we ambushed them on and on-sighting 7b which is always a nice feeling! 

Next blog will be about a little known climbing area called La Marea which is a new a hidden climbing area 20km south of Infiesto in Northern Spain.