You might remember, I’ve told you before about the spectacular U-shaped Zafarraya Pass (El Boquete de Zafarraya) marking the boundary between the provinces of Málaga and Granada, and which can be seen for miles around.
Standing over 900 metres above sea level, the Pass has been used for centuries as a key route through the sierras, linking lands south-west of Granada, with the towns and villages along the coast, east of Málaga.
On the approach to the gap in the mountains, above the road on the left, a small tunnel through the rock can be seen. This once formed part of the Periana to Zafarraya railway line, abandoned fifty years ago. The tunnel is now used by horse-riders and walkers who enjoy strolling along the dirt road where the railway once ran.
Last time I went through the Zafarraya Pass, instead of whizzing by, I decided to stop and have a look. After driving under the the old iron railway bridge, I parked in the small car park on the left side of the road.
It’s only a few steps up the gentle slope to where the narrow gauge railway once ran. The main tracks were removed long ago, but there is still a short length remaining to illustrate what it must have looked like.
The views from the Mirador El Boquete (lookout point) both across the Pass and down towards the coast are stunning. This is a lovely peaceful place to stop for a picnic, and there are a couple of picnic tables for public use.
From here you can see the peaks of Tajo de la Cueva and El Morron de La Cuña, the hamlets of Espino, Los Cortijillos, Los Pavitos and Los Morales as well as numerous white houses, dotted like paint spots on a canvas, as far as the eye can see. The village of Alcaucín and the Parque Natural lie ahead, overseen by La Maroma, the highest mountain in the Axarquía region at 2066 metres.
If you cast your eyes further down the valley, La Viñuela reservoir and the Mediterranean Sea glimmer in the distance.
I wandered along the dirt track, and ahead of me I could see the old narrow railway tunnel.
As I approached, the enormity of the task in building the tunnel was obvious. It had been hewn through the rock by hand. What a job!
Rather than just strolling as I did, and depending on how fit you are, you might enjoy an adventurous walk or a more gentle ramble from Periana, the source of the old railway line, back to the Boquete de Zafarraya.
Whatever you choose, be sure to watch out for the fabulous birds.
How to get there
To get to the Zafarraya Pass, drive north from the A7/E15 Autovía del Mediterraneo, past the town of Vélez-Málaga and briefly alongside Lake Vinuela, before heading up the A402, a winding mountain road.
You will see the gap in the mountains ahead, getting closer and closer the higher you climb.