As keen walkers we decided to choose Imaginative Traveller’s Alpujarra & Sierra Nevada 8 day walking tour for our holiday last September. The transfer to our village destination of Trevelez from Malaga only took around 3 hours, heading inland towards the mountains. The higher we went the more spectacular the views became.
Typically, Trevelez seems to spill down the mountainside with the huge Mulhacén mountain (the highest in Spain) providing an imposing backdrop to the brilliant white of the buildings. At 1475m above sea level the village is the highest in Andalucia and our apartments overlooked the entire valley. The area is known for its fresh local produce, freshwater trout and in particular its world renowned air-cured ham which can be seen hanging from ceiling hooks in huge warehouses as well as in cafes and private houses.
Our first walk to Juviles started with a very steep ascent but was followed by wide well-defined tracks on the edge of forested hill slopes and then open moorland. A more gentle descent passed village gardens to a main street concluded the route where we had an opportunity to sample the local tapas while we waited for our scheduled pick-up. Throughout the week all our walks returned in good time to recuperate from the exertions of the day at a local tapas bar.
On a day off from walking the foothills we ventured to Granada about 100km away. An early start was necessary as entrance to the famous Alhambra Palace is by timed ticket and you needed to queue. The Palace itself is huge with formal gardens, courtyards and ancient military barracks as well as palaces built by various rulers since the 13th Century. The most spectacular are those forming the Royal Residence. Here amazing decorative architecture, mosaics, carved ceilings, fountains and shady courtyards can be seen.
Walking days resumed with a route to Portugos. Here the walk climbed steeply out of the valley snaking its way through wooded slopes to a wide open track. Our subsequent descent brought us into a pretty village with a welcome shady terrace attached to the now essential tapas bar where the most fantastic ice cold beers were served. The high spot of the week was a climb to Penabon – a rocky outcrop at about 2,500m overlooking Trevelez and the valley. It was from here we actually spotted Capra or Spanish Ibex, extremely difficult to see as they are well camouflaged against the rocks and shadows and are very timid.
Our final day was spent in the Poquiera Gorge. Starting with a mountain road experience by mini-bus to the three villages of Capileira, Bubion and Pampaneira. Here there was the option of walking downhill between the villages or taking the mini-bus, the overriding criteria being the arrival time in Pampaneira where lunch was scheduled. Each of these villages had its own distinct character and ample time was available for exploring provided you utilised the mini-bus. If you had chosen to walk then distance and terrain dictated that all available time was given to the route.
So ended a week where the number of British tourists could be counted on fingers and where the locals still regarded visitors with a certain amount of curiosity. Having seen some of the best scenery in Europe and sampled some of the best meals going we were totally impressed with our choice of Spain for a walking holiday.
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