Challenging climb from Istán to Pico de La Concha, amazing views!

by Philip van Wijngaarden
(Marbella, Espana )

Istán to Pico de La Concha

Istán to Pico de La Concha

Last weekend, I undertook a challenging hike to the summit of La Concha with my 18-year-old son, starting from Istán. This route is definitely tougher than the more well-known ascent from Refugio de Juanar near Ojén, but what a beautiful adventure it is!

Our journey began with a short car ride from Marbella to Istán, a picturesque drive of about 30 minutes. We parked at the Altos de Istán hotel, the starting point of our trek, situated at an altitude of around 350 meters. Ahead of us was a climb of approximately 900 meters in elevation to the summit of La Concha, which stands at around 1,250 meters, with a total hiking distance of 12.5 kilometers.

Armed with a few snacks and 1.5 liters of water each, we started our vigorous ascent. In the summer of 2021, when I did this hike, having 2.5 liters of water was essential. It's also advisable to apply plenty of sunscreen and to wear a thin sweater or fleece. As you climb, you quickly get warm, but there are also parts in the shade where it can be quite chilly. Pay close attention to the weather forecast, as this is not a route you'd want to do in the rain. We both wore shorts, which were perfect. You do end up with some scratches on your legs from the bushes, but I prefer that to wearing long pants. Good physical condition is necessary here, as some parts are really steep! Along the way, we occasionally stopped for photos and to enjoy the breathtaking landscape.

This route, less crowded than the one from Refugio de Juanar, offered us a peaceful hiking experience. We didn't encounter any other hikers until we reached the summit. The path is marked with yellow and white stripes on rocks and reflectors – a handy guide to prevent getting lost, as happened to me in 2021. The route crosses various ridges and peaks.

The highlight (both literally and figuratively!) was the spectacular journey over the Cepillo de Enebro ridge to the summit of La Concha. With cliffs on both sides, the view takes your breath away: Gibraltar, the Atlas Mountains in North Africa, Malaga, Marbella, Estepona, and the Concepcion reservoir. After a well-deserved 20-minute break at the summit, we began our descent. This was faster but still required caution due to the risk of slipping. The entire journey took us about 5.5 hours, including a 20-minute stop at the summit – 3 hours for the ascent and just over 2 hours for the return.

This climb with my son was an unforgettable experience. If you have the chance, consider taking the route from Istán up and the way back to Refugio de Juanar for an easier descent and more variety in the landscape, including a beautiful forest. Highly recommended!

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Jan 07, 2024
Love this blog about hiking in and around Marbella!
by: Dan

Thank you for sharing this amazing post about hiking in and around Marbella. I have two boys of my own - will definitely do this. The views look amazing and the details you provided about the trailhead are great!

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