The Nerja river (Chillar) walk

The Nerja river walk, or the “Cahorros” as it is known in Nerja is an excursion, that requires a certain level of preparation, up the Chillar river. I would say this excursion is a medium difficulty walk, though if you wish to only reach the first pool then it’s considerably easier and more people can take on this part of the walk.

You will always be surrounded by water, trees and local flora. Also you will enjoy the relaxing sounds of the birds of the area.

It is important to know that the Nerja Town Hall does not promote this walk. A protection and conservation protocol has been introduced by the Junta de Andalucia to fight fires in the area and soon another protocol which regulates the use of the area will be introduced. This is to regulate, as much as possible, bad use of the environment.

It is a FREE natural park and you do not need any kind of license to do this walk (up to today). Because of this, you should know how important conservation of this area is.

Before you start the walk up the Chillar river, I recommend you take note of this important information I have to offer. Firstly, keep in mind that it is a natural park and you should do your best to maintain the area so it can stay like it is for years to come.
*Keep in mind that the distance and time I am posting here is from the recommended car park.

  • Distance: If you wish to complete the Nerja river walk (Río Chillar), all the way to “Vado de Los Patos” you will walk for about 8km to get there and another 8km to get back (through the same route).
  • Speed: The rhythm of the walk is slow. 80% of the walk is on the actual Chillar river which means there will be water. Normally this water will cover your ankles, but it has been known to reach people’s knees before. Walk with caution!
  • Time: If you wish to reach the end of the Nerja river walk (Vado de Los Patos), you are looking at a 6 or 7 hour walk (there and back) depending on how many stops were made and your rhythm.
  • Opening hours: It is open all the time but we recommend you set off early in the morning to avoid all the people and come back before it gets dark.
  • Difficulty:The walk up to the “Vado de Los Patos” is a medium difficulty walk, you do not need to know how to climb. That said, you must bear in mind that it is an area of difficult access for emergency services, son please be careful. If you are going with children then I recommend that you walk to the first pool (Los Cahorros) which is about a 5km walk (there and back). This walk is much easier.
  • Recommended time of year: I would recommend going between March and October simply because of the weather and how deep the river channel will be. That said, it is a natural park and you can go whenever you like.
  • Take care of the environment: Because this area is a natural park, we must fight to maintain it. It is completely forbidden to throw rubbish into the river or anywhere else for that matter. Also, there is a moral obligation to pick up all the rubbish we see, even if it is not ours. You cannot start any fires at all in this area. We must protect the environment which means that it is also prohibited to pick fruit or flowers.

The Nerja river walk (Río Chillar) – What you should take

On top of what I have already told you about this excursion, I also recommend:

  • Footwear: You should choose comfortable sporty footwear that can get wet, and that will protect your ankle. Keep in mind that you are going to walk on wet and slippery stones. We do not recommend using flip-flops or sandals!! We also do not recommend using mountain shoes because when they get wet they become very heavy, It is important to know that it is prohibited to throw your shoes onto the electricity line after you have completed the walk.
  • Hiking staff: One of these could come in handy at certain parts of the walk, especially the slippery parts. Not mandatory though.
  • Suncream and a hat: Highly recommended, especially in July and August. It is a long walk and the sun is always present.
  • Food, water, sport drinks: You should pack very well before you set off because you will be in the middle of nature.
  • Camera: Don’t forget your camera or smartphone, take lots of pictures with the local flora so you can treasure this moment forever.
  • Bag or waterproof bag: I recommend the later because, although the water will never cover you completely, you may slip and you don’t want your personal belonging (or food!) to get wet.

Pro tip: You will have to carry whatever you put in your bag the whole distance, so try and spread everything out with the other members of your group.

Map of the Rio Chillar walk

Mapa de la ruta del Río Chillar
Mapa de la ruta del Río Chillar

The Nerja river walk (Río Chillar) – Cahorros – Vado de Los Patos

Now that you have read everything you should know about the walk, and you are sure about what you are going to take with you on the walk it’s my turn to describe the walk to you.
I will let know that although there are a few kilometers to cover, the walk is very satisfying. The scenery you will take in during the walk is more than worth the effort.

I am going to describe the walk up to “Vado de Los Patos”, but you should know that when you reach this point you can actually continue until you arrive at the “dam” or the “Imán” country house. The route from the river to the dam is a considerably longer walk that requires more effort and climbing skills. (We will cover this walk in another article in the future).

Nerja Turismo - Ruta del Rio Chillar - 1 Camino de los Almachares
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The walk begins on the asphalt road “los Almachares”. In this link, I explain how to get there from the recommended car parks. It is recommended to park there so that when you get back you will not find that you have been fined for illegal parking. Parking is illegal on this asphalt road.

Continue straight on down this road, you will be on the right track if you walk under a motorway bridge.

Nerja Turismo - Ruta del Rio Chillar - 2 Seguir Recto
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You will find a crossing with another road but continue straight on. Carry on till you arrive at a concrete factory, where the asphalt road ends and a stone road begins.

Nerja Turismo - Ruta del Rio Chillar - 3 Barrera
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When you reach the barrier shown in the photo, you will have reached the natural park. It is about a 1’5km walk from the car parks. If it seems boring at this moment, don’t worry because you haven’t even begun! The good stuff is just about to begin, as soon as you pass the barrier you will be in the middle of nature.

Nerja Turismo - Ruta del Rio Chillar - 4 Explanada
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Upon arrival at this point, you will see a massive esplanade and a small river. The river is now our guide, so follow it. The channel is quite small to begin with and you can walk beside it. Enjoy the scenery and the local flora like the canes, the reeds and the hearts of palms.

Nerja Turismo - Ruta del Rio Chillar - 5 Tercera Fabrica
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You will later reach a steep ramp that has a hydroelectric power plant by it. This spot is known as “third factory” or “big jump”. It is a very nice spot to take your first photo and there is also a little pool so the little ones can cool down a little. This point is about 2km in.

If there has been lots of rain during the year, this area can be overflowing with water. If this is the situation, be careful because it will be slippery.

Nerja Turismo - Ruta del Rio Chillar - 6 Caudal Rio
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When we reach this point, we will have no choice but to get our feet and ankles wet. Some years the water has even reached people’s knees. After this point, the scenery is very green and abundant. The river’s channel will widen and everything is nicer.

You must be careful though because the stones are wet and you could fall.

Nerja Turismo - Ruta del Rio Chillar - 7 Cahorros
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After a 4km walk, you will reach what is for me, the nicest part of the whole walk (Los Cahorros). The river passes through 3 cracks in the mountain, it’s an amazing sight! When you go through these cracks you can touch these walls with your own hands (the cracks are just over a meter wide). If you look up, you will see that the height of these cracks is over 20m.

Scenery like this is not easily found in Spain.

Nerja Turismo - Ruta del Rio Chillar - 8 Primera Poza
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As you cross the second crack in the mountain you will see a small pool (half a meter deep depending on the rain). This is an ideal place to stop and relax for a while so you can continue this walk. You’re at the perfect spot to decide if you continue on to the big pool (Vado de Los Patos) which is about 4km away from where you are or to turn back. Consider that you still have to walk back, so keep it in mind.

If you still have the energy to continue, carry on.

Nerja Turismo - Ruta del Rio Chillar - 9 Zona Rocosa
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If you decide to continue walking the Nerja river walk you will soon discover that the walk has suddenly got a little bit more complicated. But the scenery just keeps getting better so make the most of it and take as many photos as you can!

Soon you will arrive a very large rock, which means that you are close to the end. There is only about 100m left from here to arrive at the waterfall and the pool.

Nerja Turismo - Ruta del Rio Chillar - 10 Vado de los Patos
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You have finally arrived at your destination! (Vado de Los Patos). Enjoy it! It’s the perfect moment to relax, swim and have a little massage under the small waterfall. You have walked about 8km so you deserve it. Drink some water and have some lunch with your family or friends.

NOTE: if you are allergic to wasps or bees, please be careful because they are some areas where these insects are very present.

As you have seen, the Nerja river walk (Río Chillar) is a perfect way to spend the day. It’s also a great way of doing sport while you enjoy the breath-taking scenery. You don’t get to see this everyday. Please stay safe!

Where to park?

If you wish to take part in this excursion, the Nerja river walk then I recommend that you park your car in one of the two free car parks that are very close to the walk. Parking is forbidden all along the Almachares road and police cars often pass by and fine those who didn’t obey the laws.

You don’t want to find that you have been fined when you get back to your car, do you?

Nerja Turismo - Ruta del Rio Chillar - Mapa Aparcamiento
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Almijara – Market car park

Nerja Turismo - Ruta del Rio Chillar - Aparcamiento Almijara
Aparcamiento municipal Almijara - Mercadillo

The first option that I propose is the Almijara – Market car park (marked in red on the map above). During weekdays there are often many spots to park here but you should know that you will not be able to park here on Tuesdays because the market is on. When you park your car here you can continue up Mirto street (red line) and turn left where the street joins the Almachares road (brown line)

Enjoy your adventure!

See in Google Maps

Coordinates in decimal degrees:

  • Latitude: 36.76114
  • Longitude: -3.87392

Coordinates in Degrees(°) minutes(‘) y seconds(“)

  • Latitude: 36° 45′ 40.12″
  • Longitude: -3° 52′ 26.12″

Public car park on Mirto street

Nerja Turismo - Ruta del Rio Chillar - Aparcamiento Calle Mirto
Aparcamiento Municipal Calle Mirto

The second option that I propose is to use the car park on Mirto street (marked in blue on the map above). It’s a fairly big car park and you can park there on Tuesdays, even if the market is on.

When you park your car here, you can walk down Mirto street (blue line) and turn right where the street meets the Almachares road (brown line)

Enjoy your adventure!

Ver el mapa en Google Maps

Coordenadas en grados decimales:

  • Latitud: 36.76423
  • Longitud: -3.87199

Coordenadas en grados(°) minutos(‘) y segundos(“)

  • Latitud: 36° 45′ 51.26″
  • Longitud: -3° 52′ 19.17″

I hope this article helped you on your Nerja river walk excursion (Río Chillar). I’m sure that you will have a fantastic day with your friends or family in a natural environment. And the best part about it is that you will be doing some sport too.

The Nerja river (Chillar) walk
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