Example tour: Hiking in Andalucia 14 days in the Best of The South
Day 1 La Sierra de Aracena.
Drive South to the Sierra de Aracena Natural Park. (5 hours driving time). We´ll make a few stops on the way. Aracena is one of Spain´s most beautiful natural spaces (and one of my favourites!) with little white villages linked by ancient tracks through green, wooded hills. The area is famous for it´s delicious Iberico ham which comes from pigs which live in dehesa – open oak woodland pasture - eating acorns from the cork and Holm oaks. A large part of the local economy is still based on this extensive and environmentally friendly ham production. Being close to the Atlantic the Sierra gets more rainfall and is markedly greener than most parts of Andalucia.
We stay in a really nice posada – a perfect base for the next 3 nights. The posada is an idyllic sierra village with a few bars, a restaurant and a great old style general store.
Day 2 La Sierra de Aracena
A very varied hike from the village linking three tiny Sierra villages through cork oak, pine forest, olive groves and dehesa . The walk has a steep uphill section halfway through but is otherwise fairly gentle. There are beautiful sections of cobbled paths going back hundreds of years and some of the cork oaks are huge and truly impressive with their copper red after the cork has been harvested. The birdlife here is incredibly rich and varied with Hoopoes, Orioles, Shrikes, Nightingales, Sparrowhawks etc. etc.
Day 3 La Sierra de Aracena .
Drive to the Northern side of the Sierra for a quite different hike between villages with views over the more open Rivera de Huelva valley. We´ll walk through open farmland, dehesa, woods and past a marble quarry. A stunning hike and with good chances of seeing birds of prey including Golden Eagles and the rare Bonellis Eagle. 5 hours 300 metres up and down.
Day 4. Boutique hotel , Sevilla
After breakfast drive to Sevilla (1 hour 45 minutes). - ´´ The greatest city of the Spanish South´´ has a huge amount to see - an incredible cathedral – the largest church in the world , the Moorish minaret – La Giralda – now the cathedral´s bell tower, numerous palaces and historic buildings including the 14th Century Alcazar built for a Christian king by Moorish master craftsmen and the Casa de Las Indias which was once the archive of the Spanish Empire (which was administered from Sevilla). This buzzing city has a really Andaluz atmosphere and it´s wonderful to wander around and discover the streets, churches, palaces and bars. (optional guided tour).
Day 5 Doñana National Park and El Rocio
Today we drive to El Rocio – a unique village built around the shrine of the Virgen del Rocio which receives more than a million pilgrims during the spring romeria (pilgrimage). The rest of the year it is like a wild west town with sandy streets, horses and carts and a unique feel. The biggest attraction here is the Doñana National Park with its coastal wetlands providing a home for myriad birds, both residents and migrants going to and from Africa. It´s also one of the best places to see the Iberian Lynx, the world´s rarest feline. We´ll walk into the park in search of these wonderful creatures. (optional tour).
Day 6 Boutique Hotel , Vejer de La Frontera
From El Rocio we loop around the Guadalquivir estuary towards Vejer and La Costa de la Luz (The Coast of Light. This is a quite different part of Southern Spain, washed by the Atlantic and ventilated by El Levante onshore winds. Here the famous almadraba tuna fishing system (nets placed along tuna routes to channel the fish into pens) which goes back 2000 years is still in use. There is some great walking along the coast, salt marshes and along the inland sierras. Vejer is a gorgeous Andalucian town (possibly the nicest in Southern Spain) with views over the sierras and the coast. We stay in a really special hotel in this magical place. If we have time we´ll do a walk around the Marismas de Barbate – a wetland nature reserve.
Day 7 Boutique Hotel , Vejer de La Frontera
A fascinating day heading South down to the coast along a high ridge and then along a drovers path into La Breña nature reserve which has fascinating birdlife in its marshes and stands of Stone Pine. We reach the coast and make a short detour to a 16th Century watchtower built to guard the coast against corsairs and pirates who were once a major scourge along this coast. We then follow a Cliffside path above the beach and soon pass through the coastal village of Los Caños de Meca. From the village we follow the coast to the lighthouse on Cape Trafalgar. This, of course, is where the Battle of Trafalgar was fought offshore in 1805. A really varied and captivating hike.
Day 8 Village hotel, Grazalema