One of the pleasures of having this blog is to share the seasonal changes in Andalucia. As we head into April, southern Spain is at it’s most beautiful. Lush, verdent greens are puntuated with vivid wild flowers.
This weekend we headed to Ronda and took the opportunity to revisit Grazalema Natural Park, a vast natural reserve in western Andalucía, and a favourite location for walking.
The village of Grazalema is picturesque by anyone´s standards, and makes for a popular destination for both day trippers, holiday makers as well as hikers, mountain climbers and cyclists.
Despite considerable growth over recent decades, the village of Grazalema, in the foothills of the park’s stunning mountain range, has retained its strong Andalusian identity. There are a number of hiking routes throughout the park, including some that require prior authorisation (as numbers of walkers in some of the more protected natural habitats are strictly limited – you can call +34 956 709 733 to book access).
Also, just above the village, a few metres above the last car park is a quick and easy walk to the ruins of a small chapel ‘Sendero Ermita el Calvario’. There is also the nearby ‘Mirador del Santo’ (with statue) giving great views down to the village. So even if you’re not into walking, this is an easy way to get a flavour of the countryside and the appreciate some of the scale of the park.
At this time of year the countryside is green and fresh – a contrast with the rest of year when it’s so dry in southern Spain. This part of Andalucía is one of the wettest parts of Spain, capturing moisture that sweeps in from the Atlantic, so expect to discover interesting flora.
Continue up from the village to the mountain pass of Puerto de las Palomas, famous for its inclusion in so many cycling competitions, and one can look out across of Andalucía’s provinces, Malaga, Cadiz and even into Seville province. There is parking here and it is another good starting point for a number of signposted hiking routes.
Other popular villages on the edge of the park are Montejaque, (here there are hiking routes around the north of the Cueva del Gato cave system and the small reservoir), and Benaojan, (where you can eat and stay at the welcoming Molino del Santo hotel).
These few iphone snaps below were taken from the entrance to the Cueva del Gato cave and then again at the top of the cave system, near Montajaque at the Cuerva de Hundideo.
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