The walk to the Tajo del Abanico, named for the cave that looks like a fan (abanico), is a gentle walk measuring about 4.5km from the Almocabar gate at the entrance to the medieval walls of Ronda in the Barrio de San Francisco. It is of low difficulty, and takes you to a river valley filled with wildflowers in the spring and summer. (very hot in the summer months)
We start our walk from Ronda at the Almocabar gate, and exit Ronda on Calle Torrejones, this is the street that runs between the main plaza and the Bodega San Francisco, and after 300m passes a stone tower to your right with a cross on it, known locally as ‘el Predicatorio’ which is the location of a restaruant, and part of the Roman aqueduct that used to supply Arunda with water 2000 years ago.
Reaching a small traffic roundabout, we keep going straight ahead past the bar La Quadra, and turn right at the next roundabout with a pink sign point to the Ermita Virgen de la Cabeza. Around 30m around the corner the road forks, we take the left, a sign should point to the Tajo del Abanico.
Continue on this road veering left at the first intersection, you will see three blue dots and an arrow pointing to the left, and continue to the next intersection where the left fork continues alongside the cliffs to your left, whilst the fork to the right does a complete 180; we continue on the left path.
You’ll pass an abandoned tower and farmhouse which is one of many in these parts, most of them being several hundred years old having been built after the Christian reconquest to provide storage for grain, but no longer used and now falling into ruin.
At the end of the road you’ll come to a large farmhouse on your right with a huge steel cross in the driveway, but to the left of the farmhouse driveway is a small gate which should be closed. Simply pull the handle to open the gate, but please close the gate behind you, the gate keeps the dogs out of the Tajo del Abanico.
The path you travel on is the old Ronda to Algeciras road used during medieval and Roman times, and as you continue you will eventually come to sections where the cobbled stones yet exist. Unfortunately these are medieval in origin, probably 500-1000 years old, and whilst they would have been laid where Roman stones originally stood, none of the Roman road exists anymore.
At one point the path descends to the river, and you’ll need to cross the stones in the water to reach the other side, and it is only by going through that you’ll reach the cave of the fan. The cave has a rather unique history, being the place where Francisco Rosi filmed his bandit sequences for the 1984 film Carmen (by Georges Bizet) starring Placido Domingo and Julia Migenes.
You’ll notice also that the cave isn’t very deep and is breathtakingly beautiful despite this owing to the amazing colours in the rocks and the short stalactites hanging above the entrance. The cave is a favourite location amongst local climbers and you may encounter a small group performing some quite impressive free climbing here.
That concludes the walk, you have two options for returning to Ronda, either continue along the path until you see the current Ronda-Algeciras road, which we don’t advise since the track is degraded, or turn back the way you came.
Photos from the walk Ronda to Tajo del Abanico