Opened to the public in 2015, the new Parque Botánico-Orquidario is located in the centre of Estepona, in the new central park. Covering more than 1,000 square metres, the modern building with prominent glass domes attracts the attention of people strolling down the Calle Terraza.
Estepona’s Orchidarium boasts more than 1500 varieties of Orchids – it’s the largest collection in Europe. In the centre of the vast plants exhibition there are three huge waterfalls which make you feel as if you were in a real rainforest! Stand on wooden bridge just in front of them to enjoy the refreshing coolness of the intense vapour – best appreciated in summer. There is also nice bamboo forest and other rare subtropical species of plants spread across two floors of the Orchidarium. must see for the flower enthusiasts! The entrance for adults is 3 euros. Remember that the Orchidarium is closed on Mondays.
Set in the tranquil and rural landscape between Manilva and Casares, Hedionda Roman baths are the remains of the ancient bathhouse which dates back to the 1st century BC. The structure is still available for use today, free of charge. The remains of the underground bathing facility consist of two chambers – a smaller outer chamber and a much bigger inner chamber.
Roman baths are not very popular among tourists and most of the time the place looks almost abandoned. However, during hot summer weekends you will find there lots of locals taking advantage not only of the healing properties of the water, but also of the curative mud scrapped from the popular mud wall.
Follow in Julius Caesar’s footsteps
According to the ancient sources, the sulphurous spring was very popular among both Romans and Arabs. One of the old stories holds that Julius Caesar himself took to the waters on a regular basis to cure himself of a skin infection when he was a governor of southern Spain.
Canuto de la Utrera and Charco del Infierno/Diablo are two spectacular walking routes available for tourists near the Roman baths. The first one takes you into a valley-gorge with beautiful limestone rock formations on both sides. Because of the unusual rock forms, Sierra de Utrera is called by some people ‘small Torcal de Antequera’. The second route leads along the Rio de Manilva, and a couple of times across the river, to a charming swimming pond with a waterfall. It is possible to connect both routes into one 8 km long circular route.
Charco del Diablo near Manilva
From the coastal A7, take a turn inland at the Lidl roundabout in Sabinillas. Follow the Camino los Baños road. Just before the road passes under the highway bridge, turn slightly to the right on a dirt track. After 200 meters, you will find a small parking space on the left, opposite the old Los Alamos restaurant. Continue on foot until you reach Baños De La Hedionda. The Roman Baths are also easily accessible from the A7 highway.
Rio Chillar, the chill-out river, is located just five minutes’ drive from the Nerja centre, at the Sierras de Tejeda mountains. It’s a very popular spot for Spanish families. Both kids and grown-ups can enjoy fantastic walk full of splashing in the crystal clear water.
Step by step
The route down the river starts very inconspicuously as initially the water barely covers your feet. On the sides of the river bed you will see some bushes, rocks and trees. Nothing spectacular. After 20 minutes of walking, the landscape gradually changes. The river enters a narrow gorge and the water starts to get slightly deeper, but don’t worry, in most places it should never reach your knees. The high cliffs provide plenty of shade, making the walk really enjoyable for everyone.
And that’s when the real fun starts! Jumping and splashing around, dipping in one of the several natural pools formed by the river, sitting underneath a waterfall – all these irresistible attractions can be found in Rio Chillar. Your kids will burn all their energy in no time. It takes around 3-4 hours to complete the whole route. However, you don’t need to reach the very end of the river to experience all the joys of Rio Chillar. Enjoy!
Tips for the trip
A good pair of shoes is recommended as there will be lots of slippery pebbles and rocks under your feet most of the time. If you haven’t got anything suitable, visit a good sports shop with a wide range of light water shoes. During summer weekends Rio Chillar can get a bit busy, try to avoid that time. However, arriving in the morning can be a a good way of avoiding the crowds. Never visit Rio Chillar right after intense rainfall or when there is a forecast of rain as heavy rain causes water levels to rise very quickly.