For my last birthday, the only thing that I wanted to do was to go rock climbing in Spain, I just wanted to climb something on that day. I mentioned this to my friend Peter Parkorr, travel blogger at Travel Unmasked. And as he was heading to El Chorro, a tiny village in southern Spain that has become a classic winter climbing spot, he suggested that I come along. He was going there to shoot a promotional video for the Olive Branch, a B&B in the area.
The place seemed perfect to spend a few days away from civilisation, with plenty of options to play outdoors. Naturally, I jumped at the opportunity to tag along. There are about 650 routes, both single and multi-pitch, with with grades to please beginners and experienced climbers alike. It’s no wonder why El Chorro is a very popular climbing destination in Europe. The area is also famous because of El Camino del Rey, a precarious walkway through the gorge that sometimes it’s referred to as one of the most dangerous in the world.
The Olive Branch is a family run guesthouse owned by British expats Mel & Gary, who also live there with their two energetic children and their lovely pets. With the help of volunteers, they’ve built the perfect place for climbers looking for affordable accommodation in El Chorro. They have many options available for guests: a separate house that can accommodate groups; a variety of private rooms for smaller groups, families and couples; and for the singles there are dorm rooms and camping.
Arriving to El Chorro was easy enough, thanks to the kindness of my friend Wim who gave me a ride all the way from Benalmádena. Unfortunately, I was expecting a bit too much from the tiny village of El Chorro and showed up without any provisions, thinking that I could just buy everything I needed there. It turned out there wasn’t much in town, there’s just a not so well stocked store by the train station and there’s a small mini market, but it’s way overpriced!
Thankfully, the people at the Olive Branch were super helpful and soon enough I was able to get some food from Álora, a proper town with supermarkets and shops about 12 km away. Besides breakfast, Mel & Gary also offer prepared meals for just a few euros; and on Friday evenings, there’s Clam Friday, a feast including tasty clams, drinking rum shots from shells and singing around the table. If all you need is a boost for your climbing you should try some of Charlie’s cakes, everything I tried was delicious; but my favourite was the lime cake followed closely by the devilish brownies. Believe me, that girl can bake!
Overall, my stay at the Olive Branch was fantastic and I wish I had more time to explore the area. El Chorro turned out to be a great place to get away from civilisation; in fact, after a week in nature among trees and stars, it was a bit shocking to arrive to Malaga’s train station full of artificial lights and bright shops.
My stay at the guesthouse was a courtesy of the Olive Branch; but all opinions and views are my own. For more information and to book your stay you can visit their website. Also, you can view Peter Parkorr’s video here.