A National Park, four Natural Parks and five Natural Areas: the Great Path - Gran Senda in Spanish - in Malaga province passes through more than 50 municipalities, covers over 850 kilometres in 35 stages and now attracts 1.3 million walkers a year. Together with the Coastal Path - Senda Litoral - it has become one of the biggest tourist attractions in the region, especially since the coronavirus pandemic began.
According to the Diputación de Malaga (the provincial council), there are now 5,600 places in which to stay in the countryside of the province, offering 48,739 beds, which is 5.2% more than in 2020 and 10.8% more than in 2019. “The Great Path has revolutionised rural tourism,” said Cristóbal Ortega, who runs this department at the Diputación.
Last year 853,250 tourists came to inland Malaga, which was more than double the figure in 2020, and the financial impact of rural tourism is estimated to have been 739.8 million euros. This was 158.3% more than the year before, but still 20.9 per cent below that of 2019.
The Diputación has assigned 20 million euros from this year’s budget for projects associated with the Great Path, and 10 million on the Coastal Path, which will eventually link all the coastal towns in the province of Malaga.
Because this type of tourism is proving so popular, similar projects are also being carried out or are in the pipeline, such as the Senda Azul, or Blue Path, which the Diputación says is its ‘star project’ and will place the focus on the maritime world. It will include new resources on land and at sea, and two million euros will be spent on setting it up this year.
Another project which was announced recently, which will complement the Great Path and will be the first phase of the future Guadalhorce geopark, is the Camino Geológico Malacitano, a 144-kilometre-long route which will have nine stages. It will begin and end in Pizarra and pass through Álora, Antequera, Ardales, Campillos, Cártama, Carratraca, Casarabonela, Pizarra, Teba and Valle de Abdalajís.
The plan is for this walking route to open this summer, and it will include different places of interest from a geological point of view such as the Desfiladero de los Gaitanes gorge, the Tajos del Almorchón, Falla de Castillejos de Quintana, Raja Ancha and the hills of Álora and Pizarra.