El Chorro is a popular winter sport climbing destination in southern Spain featuring mainly south facing crags and a great range of grades. There is a fantastic climbing community here and a very relaxed atmosphere, plus the majority of the climbing areas are within easy walking distance from the village.
How to get there
I travelled from Brighton, UK to El Chorro fully by train, with an overnight stay in Barcelona. First day was an early train from Brighton to London in time for my 9:30 Eurostar to Paris. Arrived in Paris Nord around 1pm then a quick metro got me to Paris Gare du Lyon for my 3pm train to Barcelona. I had plenty of time to see what vegan food France could offer - Pret a Manger was the best option. This was a long train, 6.5 hours. When I arrived, I dumped my stuff at the hostel and went for a vegan burger.
The following day had an early start with a 6:45 train to Malaga but it was great to see the sunrise through the window. When I arrived in Malaga I used the Mercadona at the station to stock up on food before catching the short train to El Chorro. Upon arriving, the Olive Branch (hostel I stayed at) was a 30 minute walk uphill from the station - this was a bit of a slog in the afternoon heat and with a heavy pack. I arrived just in time for an afternoon sport climbing session at Las Encantadas!
- Consider a sleeper train to avoid an overnight stay (and extra expense perhaps)
- Work out your plan backwards based on the trains from Malaga to El Chorro, as these are not particularly frequent
- Use Interrail app (Rail Planner) to find the best journey, then buy tickets from individual companies
- Avoid buying Interrail/Eurail tickets, as Spain requires you make reservations in person at a station which isn’t ideal if there are no available seats last minute
Where to stay
The Olive Branch El Chorro is a hostel owned by a British family, camping or bunkhouse available and also private rooms. Quite affordable, friendly environment with plenty of other climbers. Food available, dinner always has a Vegan option, breakfast has a passable vegan option. There is also an option to volunteer in exchange for accommodation and food. Contact the owner Melanie directly to explore this option.
Other options are Finca la Campana or Airbnbs or hotels in the village.
How to reach the crag(s)
El Chorro has many crags within easy walking distance of the hostels mentioned. The main areas are below:
- Las Encantadas: 5 minute walk, Slab and vertical walls, best around 7a-7b+ (Topo)
- Los Olivitos, Bedees and Cocina Caliente: 10-20 minute walk, Slab, best around 5-6c, Topo
- Frontales: 20-30 minute walk depending on which sector,Multipitch, vertical, cave and overhang , Has grades for anyone, at its best in the 7s-8s I would say, Best sectors: Castrojo, Amptrax (Multipitch), Suizo, Mundo (Multipitch), Momia, Poema de Roca (Cave), Solarium (Multipitch), Austria, Topo
- Escalera Arabe: 30-40 minute walk,Mulitpitch and vertical, best around 5s-6s, Topo
- Makinodromo: 1-2.5 hours walk depending on how much trespassing you want, Either a long slog over a ridge, up a scree slope and through loads of spiky bushes (2.5 hours, if you don’t get lost) or sneak through the train tunnels (best to go early in the morning), 30 minute steep uphill to the crag afterwards about 20 minutes in the tunnels total, tunnels are wide and trains are infrequent but check the timetables, Overhang, best in the high 7s into 8s, Topo
All of the above are south facing (mainly, some sectors can be more shaded). If it becomes too hot, the best area to avoid the heat is a bit further away
- Desplomilandia: 1 hour cycle (14km) [quite hilly] OR 30 minute bus from El Chorro Village (30 minute walk from Olive branch) to the start of the Caminito del Rey, then a 20 minute cycle (1 hour walk) OR catch a lift with someone who has hired a car or has a van (perhaps not in the ethos of an ecopoint however). Overhanging walls of all grades and aspects. Best from 7a-8a, although plenty in the 6s, Topo
I would recommend using the Rockfax app and/or guidebook to find more about these crags. Check out my UKC ticklist for some of the amazing climbs I’d recommend in El Chorro.
Supermarket: There is a small (overpriced) grocery store in El Chorro (30 minutes walk) stocking some essentials. This is not a large store. Finca La Campana (5 minute walk) has an even smaller store stocking essentials. Alora has a large supermarket Mercadona, stocking all one could need. This is 1 hour by bike or a 30 minute walk then a 30 minute bus.
Rest day: Caminito del rey. A walk through the gorge with the tourists. Bus from El Chorro takes you to the beginning, then you finish in El Chorro. Or a Via Ferrata. Located at Frontales, can rent gear from Finca La Campana. Or Bobastro Ruins. 4 hour walk round trip and 3 EUR entry. Or visiting Malaga. Catch the train from El Chorro (40 minutes) for a day at the beach or in the city. Or Chill at the Olive Branch. There is a pool and often plenty of people around in the day.
Other climbing: Boulder cave. Just past Frontales is a large cave to boulder in. Pads not really needed as the ground is so close
How to book the trip
Most trains are long distance so require reservations in advance. Bookings can be made with the below websites: Eurostar [London to Paris], TGV [Paris to Barcelona], Renfe [Barcelona to Malaga, via Madrid on the way home], Trainline [Local trains: Brighton to London and Malaga to El Chorro], Interrail Rail Planner [Good way to find which trains to book]