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 :)