Hiking through the Rio Chillar in Nerja, Andalusia
A Hike in the Water - The Rio Chillar in Nerja, Spain
Hiking through the Rio Chillar in Nerja, Spain
Wading through water is good for your health, at least that is what the famous Kneip Baths suggest. Therefore, going for a hike in a river in summer could be ultimate health adventure and a welcome change to your tanning sessions at the Nerja Beach. Right in the city of Nerja, about 60 km east of Malaga you can step into the Rio Chillar and hike it up for around 8 Kilometers in the ankle to knee-deep water (or as far as you want to go) to reach the amazing waterfalls. If you are traveling Andalusia and are still looking for a dose of nature, this is your chance.
What you need to Hike the Rio Chillar
- Trainers that can get wet or shoes specifically made for walking in water (usually available at every touristy beach store)
- Drinks and Food/Snacks
- A Bathing Clothes underneath comfortable clothes that can also get wet
- A Towel
- A Camera or Phone, in your water-resistant backpack or at least somehow protected from water
- Sun Cream
- First Aid Kit if you can
- A Hat if you are sensitive to a lot of sun
Difficulty: Beginner to Intermediate, depending on how long you go on. If you want to reach the waterfalls you should be used to walking long hikes
- Leave early enough to be back way before it gets dark
- Don’t go by yourself, as there is no phone reception and getting rescued is difficult due to the shape of the landscape. You are walking in between high stone walls most of the time where the water of the river has dug its way into the mountain.
Disclaimer: Do not throw or leave any trash in the national park. I picked up four cans and 3 plastic containers that did not belong to me. This makes me so mad! Nerja is watching the trash problem at the Rio Chillar and if not treated respectfully might be closed to the public. Be responsible for your own trash!!!
How to get there
At around 9 in the morning, we finished our breakfast at a beautiful Bed & Breakfast in the mountains a few kilometers of Nerja. Fueled by food my mom and I got into the car and drove to the Mercadillo Parking of Nerja (Tuesday weekly market) to park there (Tuesday’s parking is not available at the market).
It is encouraged to not disturb the national park environment. Parking on the concrete road down to the national park is illegal, which is why we hiked that bit as well. Continue in the direction of the park until you reach a small road with small stairs for pedestrians. Continue this road until you pass underneath the highway-bridge. Soon you will reach a small crossroad to the left, but keep going forward until you reach the entrance to the national park.
My Experience Hiking the Rio Chillar
We walked around the barrier and into the national park. Under the hot sun, we continued through a valley that seemed to have been used as a quarry in earlier times. From the car until finally reaching the water with our feet we needed almost an hour. The first river pool welcomed us to the river bed, where kids where screaming in delight while splashing water around.
While walking in the water I could feel every small stone at first, but soon I got used to avoiding the sharp ones and looking for bigger stones to hop on in the crystal-clear water. The pace of this hike was, naturally, quite slow. Even though the refreshing water often barely reached our ankles, we were hiking upstream, and that takes time. However, the water provided an automatic cooling system from below which made the many sunny bits of the hike much more bearable.
Trotting upstream through wider and narrower bits of the river we encountered some of the most beautiful flora, fauna, and landscape of all Andalusia. Pink flowers were leading the way to the waterfalls, birds were cheering us on and frogs were eyeing us carefully. Deeper and deeper we advanced the national park, only to discover that after one swirling turn of the river there was yet another turn. Hiking the Rio Chillar takes patience and time.
Don’t leave too late, as getting lost in the dark could be a possibility. The whole area is hardly accessible for rescue teams.
A conclusion of hiking the Rio Chillar
The hike of the Rio Chillar is not a walk in the park. You have to concentrate on where to step, you may need around 5-7 hours to reach the waterfall and get back in total, and the hike gives you many opportunities to fall or scratch your leg. Actually, my mother did but was lucky it was not deep. But all of it is worth it to feel the rivers soft power flowing around our feet, touching the steep stone walls next to us and smelling the flowers ahead of us. If we could do it, so can you!
Like it? Pin it!
We are a team of four feminist travelers coming together from different parts of the world to share with you what we have learned from traveling, living, loving, and exploring all over the world. Join us and tell your story about female solo travel, relationships, mental health, city guides, or whatever else comes to your mind.