El Puente de los Alemanes (The German Bridge), Cortes de la Frontera (Unique Site)
Recommended month to visit it: September.
We are at the the cathedral of the cliffs: the Cañón de las Buitreras [Canyon of the Vulture Nests], Natural Monument that we find on the eastern end of the los Alcornocales Natural Park, between the municipalities of Cortes de la Frontera and Benalauría. The walls of the Garganta de las Buitreras [Gorge of the Vulture Nests] drop to up to 200 metres below. The Guadiaro river, in its maximum display of strength, has been relentlessly carving the rock, like the chisel of an aggressive sculptor. The griffon vulture, up high, watches over this magnificent performance from the skies.
The human contribution to the landscape is also interesting: the Puente de los Alemanes [Bridge of the Germans], built in 1918 and 60 metres over the cliff as part of a 6 kilometre water canalization which supplies water to the power plant of El Colmenar.
- Trail start: 286467 / 4046479
- Charco del Moro: 288152 / 4046929
- The German Bridge: 287823 / 4048501
In the Eastern surroundings of the National park Los Alcornocales, a bridge arises between two villages, Benarrabá and Benalauría, and Cortes de la Frontera. Among the delights of the mountainous region Serranía de Ronda and its rich patrimony, the German Bridge is situated, mingling with the shadows of the spectacular ‘Natural Monument' Canyon of the Vultures (Cañon de las Buitreras).
Its vertical walls of more than a hundred meters, duplicated in the gorge, are surprising. The River Guadiaro with its incessant and silent action has worked out this narrow gorge over the limestones, which are giving the mountainous region of Ronda and Grazalema its form.
The erosive power of the river and its high index of rainfall formed twisted corridors in breathtaking holes. These footprints of amazing karstic landscapes are worth seeing. The appearance of certain altitude differences, which must be overcome by the river, caused magnificent waterfalls and incredibly beautiful landscape.
In the surroundings of the canyon, holm oaks, junipers, mastics and carob trees appear. However, the species that calls attention is the Mediterranean fan palm, the only palm that originally comes from the European continent. This palm tree has certain similarities with the most exotic species of that family and those that are higher than two metres.
The name of the canyon has not been chosen by chance. Misfortune is a natural product. In its rough holes, an important colony of griffon vultures nests. You can enjoy observing birds like stock doves, rock doves or white-throated dippers. Furthermore, this is also natural habitat of the otter.
The human race has created a landscape full of different constructions, such as tunnels and bridges for the railway line from Algeciras to Ronda. This is how a barrage or a conduction of water called the German Bridge was made, enmeshing its visitors. This bridge leads over a sixty meters deep ravine and is situated at one of the most picturesque places of the province.
In the second part of the year all kinds of canyoning are permitted. It is also very pleasant to go on a hiking trip along the path next to the Guadiaro River. Marveling two enormous walls of natural rock that feed the gorge Los Buitreras or having a bath in the outstanding Moorish Pool (Charco del Moro) gives us those positive impressions that only nature can give us.
However, we have to cross the German Bridge to get to the other mountain chain and cover the distance of 50 meters of altitude to arrive at the river bed called azud. A pool or drinking trough, the Casa del Conde (Count's Mansion) appears in front of us. Nothing is far any more. Use your senses. The German bridge: a bridge towards life!
Within the municipal boundaries of Cortes de la Frontera, Benalauria and alongside Los Alcornocales Natural Park.
To get here, follow the road to Cortes de la Frontera and take the right-hand turnoff for Gaucin 3 kilometres before reaching the former. This will take us to the bottom of the valley of the River Guadiaro, home to a location known as El Colmenar or Estacion de Gaucin.
Once here, we should take the path that leads out of the village and along the west bank of the river, next to the railway track. The path finishes near an enormous pond some 300 metres in length that lies next to the exit from Cañon de las Buitreras.
This impressive canyon some 100 metres in depth was created by the action of the River Guadiaro. It is notable both for its landscape and the geomorphologic process via which the canyon was formed. Its name is an allusion to the presence here of the griffon vulture (Gyps fulvus), buitre meaning “vulture” in Spanish.
The action of the river upon the matrix of limestone and marl over the past 200-150 million years has produced this impressive gorge which at some points reaches depths of some 200 metres.
The steep terrain makes access difficult, and it is precisely for this reason that, with its continuous opportunities to rappel and jump, it has become one of the best-known locations among descent enthusiasts.
Vegetable species typical of the riverbank and Mediterranean forest.
Griffon vultures, bats, swifts, rooks and thrushes.
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