After numerous changes of plan due to hazy air or cloudy skies, we finally climbed La Concha, that mountain you can see from basically everywhere in Marbella. It was 100% worth it: a breathtaking view of Marbella, its suburbs, the Costa del Sol, Gibraltar and even Morocco make it a sight so unique that the tiring way to the peak is irrelevant.
However, there are a few things I think you should know before you do the same.
1. Don’t underestimate the seemingly short 15.5km total distance
While 15.5km isn’t a short hike, at a normal walking pace it should only take around 3-3.5 hours. Even so, during this walk that is not the case; we walked it in just over 6 hours which is an average time. There’s a lot of climbing and careful stepping which drastically increases the hike time. The elevation gain on the way there also means you’ll be walking for a lot longer than you expected.
2. Bring AT LEAST 3 litres of water PER PERSON
You probably know this. We knew this. We still made a crucial mistake. Having the impression that 1.5-2 litres of water each was enough, on the way back we were literally prepared to eat grass if it would mean we’d get more water. Unfortunately, the grass during august in Andalusia is far from edible.
3. Clear skies are essential
In my opinion, there’s really not much point in climbing up if the weather is bad or when you can’t see very much from the top. My main motivation was the view at the end point and along the way and if that’s not there, then it really is a lot less captivating. Obviously, walking up La Concha in the rain is extremely dangerous and a big nope (slippery rocks). Moreover, do not only check for possible precipitation but also for clear air. If it is misty or hazy you won’t be able to see Morocco and possibly not even Gibraltar; that would be a shame.
4. Leave early, really early (especially during summer)
You should plan to start walking a short hour before sunrise. This means you’ll evade the hot hours, and so, experience a beautiful sunrise and golden hour. The first part of the hike is on a flat, very easy path which you can follow when it’s still dim. Especially in the summer months, starting early is crucial unless you want to get roasted like a coffee bean. With little shade near the summit, it can get unbearably hot if you return too late. You might be lucky and have a cool breeze to cool you down on the way back.
5. Please, don’t do it with small children
I have to warn you: there are dangerous parts, there are scary parts and there are difficult parts. During the hike, you have to stay focussed and concentrated at numerous points on the route. If distracted or not paying attention, it can be unnecessarily dangerous, just like any other mountain hike. Watch your step and follow the routes marked with red paint. I wouldn’t take small children with you.
6. Wear decent shoes (no flip-flops, no sandals)
While sandals may work, I don’t imagine they’d be too comfortable for a walk like this. I wore normal trainers, but if I’d have hiking shoes I would’ve chosen them instead. You need profile on your soles and protection from sharp, nasty rocks with bad intentions.
7. Have a fear of heights? Think twice
Even if you despise heights or they make you sick, depending on the severity of your fear, you might still be able to complete and fully enjoy this walk. However, if you panic too easily when confronted with your fear, I would advise against it. This brings me onto the 8th point.
8. Walk at your own tempo
As long as you walk carefully at your own pace and pay attention to where you walk, you’ll be fine. It only gets dangerous if you need to rush or keep up with a group. Try to avoid walking alone (this applies to most hikes) or find a someone to partner up with along the way. A big advantage of the path to and from La Concha is that you will often encounter others. They might be able to tell you interesting stories about the flora and fauna of the region or help when you get lost. Remember to keep at least a 1.5m distance to others along the way! I’d advise however, to step away from the cliff side when giving space instead of risking your life and potentially falling or sliding down a hill conquered by prickly shrubs.
Some more pictures before the final point:
9. Bring food
Inevitably, you’ll end up burning a lot of calories and eating small snacks along the way might give you the extra energy to keep going. It’s a long hike and having some food in your backpack will give you some peace of mind.
That’s all; remember to enjoy the views and don’t shout too much, or you’ll waste your chance of seeing mediterranean wildlife!