Spain's own grand canyon, called La Garganta del Chorro, lies near Malaga

TRAVEL Q & A

July 09, 1995|By New York Times News Service

Q: In 1978 my wife and I went to Spain and visited El Chorro de Gargantua, or the Grand Canyon of Spain, north of Malaga, and found it to be an extraordinary experience. But no one we speak to has ever heard of it. Were we in the Twilight Zone?

A: Your memory has got it almost right. What you have in mind is known as La Garganta del Chorro, and sometimes as the Gorge of Los Gaitanes.

It is essentially a canyon that has been created between two mountains by the River Guadalhorce, with deep, perpendicular-sided ravines that can be reached only by way of a narrow footpath known as the King's Way.

Access to the path, which has been worn away over the years and and should be approached with caution, is made by crossing a wooden footbridge that spans the canyon.

The reward for your efforts -- the hike is considered of medium difficulty and takes about three hours to complete -- comes at the canyon's inner valley, an area of quiet waters and green pastures.

La Garganta is near a town called Alora, which has Roman and Moorish remains, and is 30 miles from Malaga. But the hiking path is reached from the village of El Chorro, 30 miles north of Malaga on Route 332. El Chorro can also be reached by train from Malaga.

Next to El Chorro railroad station is Refugio del Chorro, a center that organizes half-day and full-day tours of the area. You can also sleep there for about $4 a night, calculated at 125 pesetas to the dollar, if you take your own sleeping bag. Half-day tours are $8, full-day $12.

Horseback riding is also available for $10 an hour or $50 for a day, and climbing lessons are given throughout the year. For more information, call (34 95) 249 72 19.

A reservoir and camping area, called Camping de los Ardales, is some four miles north of Garganta del Chorro. More information: (34 95) 245 80 87. The Alora tourist office can be reached at (34 95) 249 83 80 and the Malaga tourist office at (34 95) 221 34 45.

Q: I am off to Nepal and Bhutan in October. Where can I get tourist information for these two countries?

A: Official tourist information on the Himalayan kingdom of Nepal can be obtained from Nepal's Mission to the United Nations or from its embassy in Washington. Write or call the Nepal Mission to the United Nations, 820 Second Ave., Suite 302, New York, N.Y. 10017; (212) 370-4188. The embassy is at 2131 Leroy Place N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008; (202) 667-4550.

Bhutan, also a Himalayan kingdom, has had no official tourism office in the United States since 1987. But a privately run company called Bhutan Travel, which specializes in trips to that part of the world, says it would be happy to send out information: 120 East 56th St., New York, N.Y.; (212) 838-6382.

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