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Saturday, 27 October 2007

Istan to La Concha (6 hours)

Istan is a little white village set back about 17 kms from the coast overlooking the headwaters of the La Concepcion lake. To get to Istan, you turn off inland next to the mosque which is opposite Hotel Puente Romano. La Concha at 1217m is the summit of the Sierra Bermeja range of mountains just behind Marbella.

My walking friend Philip who you see in the picture and I had a long standing date to try a route that was new for us from Istan to the top of the La Concha range. This morning I looked up from my terrace just before setting off from home and the clouds which had been hanging over the range seemed to be lifting. We had scheduled this route two months ago so that seemed to be a good omen, I should have checked the weather forecasts before we left!

Setting off from the car park just behind the new Istan Hotel the path was reasonably trodden and marked with small cairns. Some readers might have done the route from Istan to Ojen (6 hours) up the ravine behind the polydeportivo, our path led off in a more south easterly direction to intersect with the top of the range.

A rare patch of sunlight lit up the Istan village in the photo above about half an hour after setting off. The Istan hotel can be seen in the foreground. A stream of clear water gushing from the mountain below us supplies drinking water to the village all year round.

After about 2 hours the clouds began to settle back down, obscuring the peaks. An hour later it was raining and there were clouds blowing upwards from behind us. When the path ended and the only further indications were cairns at intervals on a wet rock knife edge rising above us, with about 25 metres of visibility we took a reality check. I always advise walkers on La Concha to avoid the range when the summit is blanketed in cloud, it is easy to get lost and the work of the local rescue teams is complicated as a result. We turned back.

We'll do it again in the spring next year when we can see where we're going.

Update: October 2010 By the way, we did get to Marbella eventually but my very good friend Philip died from prostate cancer earlier this year. If you look at any of the hills or mountains in the Malaga province, you can be sure that we have walked them together over the last thirty years. Philip I am really going to miss you on those paths.


Anonymous said...

Hi I want to travel from fuengirola to benahavis on a sunday - whats the best way ?
many thanks

Mike Drury said...

Hi, thanks for using gomarbella.

If you go to and open the file; "Buses to and from Marbella" you will see the schedule of buses to Marbella from Fuengirola and in smaller print in the same section, from Fuengirola to Marbella.

On weekdays there are two buses every day from Marbella to Benahavis and back, you will see the schedule on the same page as above. From Marbella to Benahavis there is one at 06.50 and the other at 17.45. Coming back the buses leave at 07.40 and at 18.35.

Unfortunately on Saturdays and Sundays there is no Portillo bus service. What I suggest is that you bus from Fuengirola to Marbella (or even San Pedro de Alcantará which is closer to Benahavis) and then take a taxi from there. I'm in London right now so I can't check prices but a taxi from San Pedro de Alcantará to Benahavis will be around 12 euros, maybe 15 on a Sunday.

Then do the reverse journey by taxi from Benahavis to San Pedro de Alcantará or even to Marbella and then bus from Marbella to Fuengirola. If you are not in a hurry you could walk down into Marbella Old Town before your bus to Fuengirola and have a drink on the Paseo Maritimo or anywhere down in the centre. It's about 20 minutes on foot into Marbella from the bus station or a minimum taxi fare which will be 6 euros on a Sunday.

I hope this helps you, please let me know how I can help you further with the journey.

Best wishes (from London right now - back home tomorrow)


Mark Ellis said...

Does the 'Fast' bus service from Marbella Bus Station to Malaga Airport operate on a Sunday?

Mike Drury said...

Hi Mark

Thanks very much for using gomarbella. Yes, the Malaga airport from Marbella bus station service operates every single day of the year.

I used it this morning actually, coming back home from London on the Monarch flight. I cleared passport control at 12.55 midday and ran for the 1pm bus, no suitcase to pick up and just made it.

Try to get to the Marbella bus station about 10 or 15 minutes before your journey to buy your ticket from the ticket office because there may only be one ticket clerk on duty dealing with bus travellers going everywhere. They won't be in a hurry on a warm Sunday and they won´t be catching a plane like you.

Hope you are having or will have had a great stay on the coast.

Best wishes from Marbella Mark


Anonymous said...

Hi again Mike, thanks for your reply.
Actually it now seems that most of the group (10-12 people) will be arriving about the same time at Malaga airport, so it seems the best option for us would be to hire a private mini-bus or taxis to our villa in Marbella. So far prices look to be about 11 euros per person for both options, but if you can recommend any particular company I'd be happy to look at that.
The remaining people arriving separately will probably use the main bus service from Malaga airport to Marbella and make their way to the villa from there.
I don't have the address but it looks to be between Lomas de Pozuelo and Albarizas.
Thanks for your help,

Mike Drury said...

Hi Josh

I got back at midday today and then this afternoon washed the dust off my bike and took a spin up to Las Lomas del Pozuelo to check out the nearest bus stop.

Paste this address into your browser and then select L7 (Linea 7) If you look at the route your bus stop is right at the top! It's Bello Horizonte on the little orange circle. The L7 is a circular route between Bello Horizonte, which is the urbanisation just below Las Lomas through Marbella Centre and on to Puerto Banus at the other end. (Print this page off because you won't find it on many bus stops or even at the bus station where I checked when I got off the airport bus today.)

The L7 doesn't connect with the Marbella bus station but that won't be a problem if you arrive by taxi. It will serve perfectly for all your local trips. Use a taxi from the bus station to your villa. On your way down from the bus station to your villa you will pass right under the gomarbella webcam.

Bello Horizonte bus stop is about 1.5kms short of Las Lomas but it might be very close to your villa. The bus stop is on the downhill side of a roundabout that you'll have to go around to get to your villa.

Your quote of 11 euros sounds great so go with that.

Have a fantastic holiday Josh, with lots of fun and thanks again for using gomarbella


Anonymous said...

I was sorry to hear that Phillip died :( we are staying in Los boliches this week and looking for an easy way to walk into the hills - do you know of a route ? Sally x

Mike Drury said...

Hi Sally thank you very much for writing in. I hardly know the Fuengirola hills so I contacted a friend who walks a lot in the area.

She gave me the website address of the very active walking club she belongs to:

Unfortunately they have just closed for the two weeks over Christmas but if you do come down again, please contact them. They sometimes have up to 200 walkers and plan excellent trips and excursions.

What to do? In Los Boliches there must be a tourist information centre. If they don't have any suggestions on walking, then I would head up the hill to Mijas Pueblo by bus, there are at least two buses every hour and walk out from there. They have a very good tourist information office and should have routes for walkers.

Sally, as a last resort you also have 7 kilometres of Paseo Marítimo along Fuengirola's sea front. Lots of bracing ozone and convenient coffee shops with chocolate cakes for energy...

I really hope you have some good walks and sorry not to more specific. Best wishes for your stay. Mike xxx