The visit to the town of Antequera, precious treasure of Andalusia, was described by American writer, Irving Washington, “a journey almost 5,000 years back through time, beginning with the Bronze Age and the original native Iberians.
With our cameras and lenses at hand, we set off for a journey that will take us 100,000 years back, to a bygone era, when the movements of tectonic plates violently changed the Earth's crust on a planetary scale.
We're in the El Torcal Park Nature Reserve, a few kilometres from Antequera, where one of the world's most fascinating and evocative landscapes, made of rock formations emerged from the abyss during the Alpine orogeny and patiently eroded by all four karst phases stands right in front of our lenses.
Step 1: El Tornillo
As soon as we take the road leading to the Torcal visitors centre, we catch sight of the first unusual shaped rock formations from behind the bushes and hedges that cover the Sierra de la Subbética. The unusual profile of some of the rocks draws our attention and stimulates our imagination, associating those shapes with familiar everyday objects. Enormous columns and capitals drawn by a whimsical artist stand side by side with gigantic mushrooms, arranged in a labyrinth between deep gorges.
The Tornillo del Torcal is our first photographic subject. The marine erosion during the Jurassic era, together with the ice and wind's action, have sculptured the rock into the shape of an enormous screw with the threads twisting around it.
Going up to the Torcal Alto, the karst landscape appears in all its majesty: we feel like catapulted into another world, which obeys to different laws of physics, and where the flora's struggle for survival is harder than anywhere else. The white and grey of the rocks are the predominant colours in our pictures, against the sky's bright blue colour.
Step 2: El Camel
We take the Green Route, which climbs 1400m in 40 – 60 minutes, the ideal place for observing the vegetation, rock formation and fauna. 11 species of reptiles, 22 of mammals and 82 of birds make it a Natural reserve of great importance.
At the junction point between the green route and the Yellow Route, a karst formation, whose shape reminds that of a camel seems to be showing the way. We continue our photographic exploration of the Torcal along the 3km yellow route, trying to capture the hypnotising atmosphere beyond the boundaries of time, highlighting the incredible shapes of these masterpieces in this open air “sculpture museum”.
Step 3: Macro
While we're busy capturing these wonderful shapes and landscapes, we manage to spot a mountain goat; a red fox, we we've come across several times, requires greater efforts before allowing us to take a great shot: it's definitely worth it. We are awestruck in front of the wonders nature is offering us, mosses, lichens, wild roses and peonies become our subjects on the foreground of our macro shots. Meanwhile, raptors, who find the cracks in the Torcal rocks perfect for their nests, glide above us. Some of them are endemic species; griffins, royal owls, owls and hoopoes are among the Torcal's most representative species.
We take a look at our shots and we're quite satisfied with the unexpected results, so we plan our next photographic exploration to the Fuente de Pedra lagoon, just a few kilometres from Torcal de Antequera. In this wonderful place chosen by the pink flamingos for breeding, we'll get to observe and photograph some of the 150 species of birds that live around the lagoon.
By Sara Argentesi