Quiet hiking trails of the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park
Glorious hillside walking through the dramatic limestone scenery
Discover the ‘white villages’ of Andalucía, each with their own special mountain charm
Keep an eye out for ibex, eagles and Griffon vultures
Explore the spectacular cliff-top citadel of Ronda, with its mix of Moorish and European monuments
Hiking the Sierra de Grazalema
Discover the real Andalucía
Andalucía is the most ‘Spanish’ of the Spanish provinces; a land of fiestas and flamenco with an arid, sun-dappled landscape dotted with picturesque white-washed villages. Away from the Costa del Sol, most of the province remains traditional and unspoilt and hiking in the Sierra de Grazalema will take you to parts of Andalucía that 95% of visitors never see.
The Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park is a green oasis in the unspoilt mountainous area between Cádiz and Ronda. The 534-sq-km park was named Spain’s first Unesco Biosphere Reserve in 1977. Your week-long hike will consist of glorious hillside walking through dramatic limestone scenery marked with spectacular gorges, flower-covered meadows and lush river valleys, while eagles and griffon vultures soar overhead.
This mountainous area is sprinkled with picturesque white-washed villages, or ‘publos blancos’, with exotic names like Zahara de la Sierra, Benaocaz and Montejaque. Narrow streets seem to tumble down the hillsides; their shaded outdoor terraces offering much needed refreshment in the form of delicious local tapas and chilled vino.
Your self-guided tour ends in the captivating Moorish town of Ronda, a stunning cliff-top citadel with a dramatic plunging gorge. The town’s bullfighting tradition was immortalised by Ernest Hemmingway, among others, and the bullfighting museum is well worth a visit.
|8 DAYS / 7 NIGHTS||From €595 per person sharing*
*Discounts available for triple rooms. Please enquire for prices.
|ACCOMMODATION||The charming small hotels on this trip have been carefully selected for their location, atmosphere and/or unique services. You will stay in the heart of the ‘pueblos blancos’ and will have ample time to explore the narrow streets.
Some of the hotels we work with are listed below. If a certain hotel is unable to confirm due to lack of availability, we will request a similar one and inform you about the alternative booked.
All rooms are en-suite and extra nights can be booked at any of the hotels along the way.
|AVAILABILITY||From September to June.|
Day 1: Arrive in Andalucía
Grazalema is a picture-perfect Andalucían ‘white town’, with narrow streets of white-washed houses tumbling down the rocky slopes of the Sierra de Grazalema mountains. The local meat-filled stews are delicious. You will spend the first 2 nights here in a traditional village inn with restaurant specialising in local dishes and with a nice cool patio.
Day 2: Circular walk from Grazalema
Distance: 5-9 km | Ascent/Descent: 285-500 m | 3-4½ hrs approx.
On the first day of walking, you have a choice between 2 circular routes. Both routes lead you through beautiful unspoilt countryside with the typical red earth tones of Andalucía adorned with rare firs and wild orchids. Neither walk is overly long, allowing you time in the evening to relax with a chilled drink on an outdoor terrace or explore the small local shops of the village.
Day 3: From Grazalema to Benaocaz
Distance: 11½-16 km | Ascent/Descent: 350-500 m | 5-5½ hrs approx.
Again, you have a choice of 2 different walks. Both follow stony paths through striking limestone landscapes and cork oak groves, passing traditional ranches called “cortijos”.
Option 1 (Grazalema–Benaocaz) is the shorter route but involves an ascent to the pass at Puerto Boyar. Option 2 (Grazalema-Villaluenga) is longer in terms of distance, but easier walking on nearly flat terrain (then taxi transfer from Villaluenga to Benaocaz).
Your accommodation is located in the hilltop Andalucían white-washed village (“pueblo blanco”) of Benaocaz. The village traces its history back to Roman times and offers panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.
Day 4: Circular walk from Benaocaz
Distance: 6-7 km | Ascent/Descent: 200-400 m | 2-3 hrs approx.
Benaocaz is the start and end point for many Grazalema park hikes so walking options are plentiful. In the morning, you can do a short circular walk along a historic footpath to reach a regular nesting site for the Griffon vultures. This is also a fantastic vista point which provides sweeping views.
In the afternoon, you can then follow the old Roman Road down to the lively town of Ubrique, famed for its leather goods. You have the option of enjoying dinner there before returning to your accommodation in Benaocaz.
Day 5: From Benaocaz to Montejaque
Distance: 17½ km | Ascent: 475 m | Descent: 650 m | 6 hrs approx.
Today’s route is longer but not overly demanding.
You begin with a short transfer to the village of Villaluenga del Rosario, with its artisan cheese museum. From there you descend into the valley of Llanos del Republicano, passing a deep cave where the river disappears underground.
Continuing on between the hills of Sierra de Libar and Sierra del Palo, past marvellous limestone sculptures as you make your way to Montejaque, another lovely village and the last “Pueblo Blanco” on your trip. Your hotel is located in the heart of the village and features charming rooms with typically Andalucían decor.
Day 6: Choice of walking routes
Distance: 8-13 km | Ascent/Descent: 350-625 m | 3-5 hrs approx.
A choice of two walking routes from Montejaque:
Option 1: A delightful circular route from Montejaque via El Hacho Peak. This route follows wide gravel tracks through Río Campobuche valley and rural paths through woodlands and olive groves.
Option 2: An opportunity to visit some of Andalucía’s most ancient and fascinating caves; “La Cueva de la Pileta”, with beautiful stalactites and stalagmites and prehistoric cave paintings. You will first walk to the village of Benaoján (which is only accessible by surfaced roads, including 800 m on the main road), but then you have a beautiful section through a quiet Mediterranean woodland, followed by a steep ascent on goat trails up to the cave. There is no circular route possible here, so you either have to retrace your steps or order a taxi at the cave to take you back to Montejaque (payable locally).
Day 7: Montejaque to Ronda
Distance: 11½ km | Ascent: 440 m | Descent: 420 m | 4½ hrs approx.
A delightful rural hike, beginning along an ancient cobbled path before passing among fields and small family farms to reach the spectacularly situated Moorish citadel of Ronda, one of Spain’s oldest towns. The town is literally split in two by the plunging El Tajo gorge, which is spanned by the 18th century Puente Nuevo ‘new’ bridge, offering some of the best views in town. The town has a colourful and romantic past and the old town, La Ciudad, is filled with Renaissance mansions, mosques and a wealth of museums. Accommodation is in a comfortable three star hotel on a lovely plaza in the centre of the old town.
Day 8: Depart Ronda
Your trip comes to an end today after breakfast. Return to Málaga for your flight home or consider extending your trip with a visit to Seville (easy access by bus or train), Cádiz or Granada.