I actually always knew that there’s a really nice hike from Nerja – up the Chillar river. I also knew that it’s a very popular destination, especially for local hikers, picnickers and fresh water swimmers – and perhaps this is precisely why we have taken so along to visit the river ourselves. I think we prefer to experience nature without too many distractions.
However, it was not until one of Ingelise’s friends uploaded photos of her river hike on Facebook, that we got real curious – we decided that the time was right and to have a closer look for ourselves.
The day was marked in the calendar and Sunday August 3rd we set out -relatively early in the morning for a Sunday. The GPS in our Helle Hollis rental car was set for Calle Mirto in Nerja – about an hour’s drive from Malaga following A7 towards Motril.
Having parked the car properly, we started our 5-hour-unforgettable-hike where we walked, almost constantly, in the river itself.
We began from the disused quarry where there is a guarded parking space for 62 cars. At this stage the river is not very well defined. The river bed is mostly wide and the river itself is only a small stream that meanders in and out. This stretch is managed easily without challenges at all (apart from trying to avoid getting wet feet) and within half an hour we reach the hydropower plant.
On this occasion, one of the floodgates were open, so those who liked or needed it could have a huge shower from the heavy gush of water bursting out of the water channel that channels Nerja’s drinking water to the storage tanks.
The river narrows (Privat photo: Hans Hugo From)
Now the river narrows and it becomes inevitable to walk with your feet in the actual water. The water reaches your ankles – and it now seems foolish having tried initially to avoid getting our feet wet. The temperature of the water is comfortable and does not at any time feel cold.
After another hour’s hike the river narrows further, and is in some places only about a meter wide. On either side raises the polished marble walls several meters into the air. It can be difficult to determine exactly, but I am convinced they raise at least 3 storeys high above our heads. Feels a bit like being in a cathedral.
This part of the river is incredibly exciting, and you are constantly surprised over what awaits you round the next corner. The water level here reaches in some places to the knees, and the river bed offers the occasional obstacle in the form of small rapids and fallen logs – mostly of decorative nature. The light is broken beautifully in the clear water, and the interplay of light and shadow is extremely beautiful.
After half an hour the river widens again, and we reach the first pools where it is possible to swim. The number and frequency of the rapids increases, and the river bed offers bigger and more challenging obstacles – but none big enough to require crawling on all four. This stage of the river is lined with flourishing oleander.
After totalling just over 2 hours of hiking we reach the first real waterfall. Here it is really possible to swim. The water is crystal clear and very inviting. Here we took our own packed food which strengthened us for the return journey which we began immediately after.
We were lucky to set out relatively early. This meant that during much of the time going upriver we had the landscape to ourselves. On the return trip on the other hand, there was heavy traffic of “oncoming hikers” who were actually quite loud and annoying to the overall experience of nature.
In spite of this, we saw some of the most beautiful scenery we have ever seen in Spain. I cannot believe that we have been waiting 17 years for this.
Subsequently, I found out that we could have hiked even further up the river and that there are even bigger and more beautiful waterfalls. But we do not regret that we turned back when we did.
Although we are experienced hikers and used to the mountains, it is a lot different walking in water. We both admit that we were pretty beat when we returned at 15:30 to our Helle Hollis rental car and headed back to Mijas.
A well deserved rest (Photo cc: Hans Hugo From)
Filled up to capacity with unforgettable, beautiful and positive impression – that we can live on for a long time – or at least until our next trip in 14 days to Capileira in Alpujarras where we have planned another hike from Mulhacen to Trevelez.
The car hire you naturally rent at www.hellehollis.com
Set out Calle Mirto is easily found. Turn away from the sea at the Burriana roundabout in Nerja and follow the signs to the market “mercadillo”. Continue along the parking and turn left at the end of the road. You come to a concrete road that leads under the highway bridge. At the end of this concrete road the hike starts.
There are 62 monitored parking spaces at the end of the concrete road. If these are all taken there is parking alongside the Market in Calle Mirto.
Duration of the hike
From the parking lot to the waterfall we took 2 – 2.5 hours of hiking at a steady pace. Retracing our steps for return, a total of 4 – 5 hours of hiking. Plus breaks for taking pics, admiring the views and eating. Medium difficulty.
The hike is suitable for all ages – even children down to 7-8 years. It’s fine that you can turn back whenever you want or whenever you have had enough. However, you owe it to yourself at least to walk the first half hour up to the hydroelectric power plant where the scenery becomes really interesting.
Start as early as possible. 08:00 is not too early. The longer you wait the more people.
What you need to bring
It is essential to wear good trainers with a good sole. I would not recommend you to wear worn out old shoes as they tend not to have much grip left. Not that the stones in the flood are very slippery – but anyway better safe than sorry!
Water and a packed lunch.
We love our hiking poles and made frequent use of them, especially to estimate water depth and also great to have an extra point of support. Hiking poles can be purchased at any Decathlon store in Malaga for as little as 12 € for a set.
To learn more about the tour please feel free to contact
Hans Hugo From,
Director, Helle Hollis Car Rental