Blog: El Paraje de las Alpujarras and Sierra Nevada walks · nature · culture · events · publications · weather
blog by: El Paraje
Berchules, Granada, Spain

14 November 2009

A short walk for an autumn day

Looking down into the valley of Narila and Cádiar from the terrace of ´El Paraje´, it is a joy to still see the lines of poplar trees with their bright yellow autumn leaves. Before the leaves will all have fallen, we decided to do a walk which would give us a nice ´poplar experience´. This meant we set off from the western limit of Juviles, near the Cerro Macilla. We followed a small path to a poplar grove from where we picked up a path along an irrigation channel, the Acequia de Cástaras. From the large water reservoir Alberca del Cerro, the path down to Nieles is steep and turned out to be quite overgrown, but nevertheless it is well worth the effort. This path was waymarked, but the yellow and white paint marks have faded over the time. From Nieles we followed the Ruta Medieval to Cástaras. The view down into the valley with the poplar lined Barranco de Alberquilla was fabulous. Better still was the view of the village when we got round the corner. On a beautiful sunny autumn day, when enclosed by yellow poplars, Cástaras looks as picturesque as ever. From the high part of the village we followed the ´camino real´ back to Juviles. This old cobbled path passes through the Barranco de Fuente Medina, another enchanting poplar lined valley. It is a circular walk of about seven kilometres that we can definitely recommend on a autumn day. Those who want to start off at ´El Paraje´, need to add another eight kilometres. View of Cástaras from the Ruta Medieval - foto: casa rural El Paraje

2 November 2009

Vaya veranillo

We have had a month of quiet weather with above normal temperatures after the rains at the end of September. Most countries have a special term to refer to the calm sunny days with blue skies in autumn. Having experienced a warm weather period with spectacular yellow and red leaves in the United States once, the term that came back to mind is Indian summer. The Dutch have a quite practical word ´nazomer´ translated as ´after summer´, and the Spanish use the diminutive ´short summer´ or ´veranillo´. Having had a look at the forecast this morning, we see that this spell of warm weather is coming to an end this week. With temperatures above twenty degrees in the shade today, it is difficult to imagine that we might have snow at ´El Paraje´ the coming weekend. In the meantime, we are enjoying the Indian Summer while it´s around, because one thing is for certain, it never lasts! Blue skies and high temperatures the first of November 2009 - foto: casa rural El Paraje
related keywords: el tiempo, het weer, le temps, das wetter

23 October 2009

Otoño Cultural 2009 Alpujarra de la Sierra

A few days ago the programme ´Otoño Cultural 2009 Alpujarra de la Sierra´ was published on the website of this municipality that is formed by Mecina Bombarón, Yegen, Golco and Montenegro. There will be a fungi exposition from the 28th of October to the 2nd of November in the salón cultural of Mecina Bombarón. Apart from this, all kinds of interesting activities are organized like a market and tasting of local seasonal products, excursions to collect and taste mushrooms, literary and botanic walks, graphic displays of organic agriculture and of the traditional pig-slaughter. The 6th of December, Yegen celebrates the Fiesta de la Constitución with the planting of trees at the Prado Real, an exposition on the constitutional history of Spain, a photographic excursion and a gastronomic tasting. As you can see on the programme there will also be music, dancing and theatre on different dates, starting with a ´gran castañada´ on the 31st of October in Mecina Bombarón and closing the cultural autumn with christmas carols on the 20th of December in this same village.

18 October 2009

Dutch painter leaves Tímar

When the Dutch painter Pieter Vermeulen visited the Alpujarras for the first time, he was immediately captured by its beauty and tranquillity. On a walk through the area, he saw the former school at the bottom of the village of Tímar and thought that it would be ideal for a studio. He imagined that this could be the place where he would be able to paint without being disturbed and he liked the idea of working with the special Andalusian light. A friend talked with the local authorities and it turned out that he was able to rent it. Since then, Pieter and his wife Truus have been coming to this small village each spring and autumn for twelve years. On the website of the painter, we see at the bottom of his homepage a photograph of him working in the former school building. Many of his paintings are inspired by how he experienced life in the Alpujarras and have Spanish titles. Apart from working here, Pedro and Getrudis – their names on the layout of the village on the website of Tímar - enjoyed walking in the countryside. They felt a great attachment to the village and the area in general. Pieter helped restoring the image of the patron saint and the couple always took great pleasure in socializing with the local people. We need to use the past tense, as the local authorities did not want to renew the contract. They have other plans with the escuela de Tímar. There is already a new sign next to the consultorio, which says ´Antiguas Escuelas: Centro multiservicios, Centro de interpretación de las minas del Mercurio´. This sign might mislead visitors the coming months, because as a matter of fact they still need to start working on this interpretation point on the old mercury mines. Pieter and Truus handed in the key last Friday and are saying goodbye to their beloved Tímar this weekend. ´Azul y rojo´ a painting of Pieter Vermeulen (acryl/linen, 150x70, 2008)

17 October 2009

Autumn 2009

We had a long hot summer this year with a sudden change of the weather the last weekend of September. It rained for a couple of days and the temperatures dropped dramatically quite suddenly. It was the first time that we inaugurated the fireplace in September and we were afraid that we would jump from summer straight into winter. The first weekend of October the temperature began to rise to comfortable summer levels though. This meant that we have been able to serve breakfast outside again for the last two weeks. Yesterday it felt we had to say goodbye to summer with one hour of rainfall during a beautiful foggy evening. Nevertheless, this morning the sky was clear blue again. When we took this picture of a bee collecting pollen from a calendula officinalis or pot marigold, it felt like a spring morning once more. At the same time we are enjoying the sound of falling chestnuts and the sight of the poplars in the valley that are starting to turn yellow. The charms of autumn in the Alpujarras are not easy to put into words.A bee collecting pollen from a pot marigold in October - foto: casa rural El Paraje
related keywords: el tiempo, het weer, le temps, das wetter

15 October 2009

Drying red peppers

One of the evocative images of autumn in the Alpujarras, are strings of red peppers against the whitewashed walls of the village houses. Many people still have their own allotment where they grow all sorts of vegetables. When they do, there´s a great change that they have a row of peppers. They are easy to grow, and they can be eaten fresh and used dried. People string them up when they are ripe and make sure they get as much sun as possible. We took this picture in Tímar where one of the inhabitants tied them up on the window bars. A new sign at the entrance of this village, mentions that ´gachas de pimiento´ or ´pepper porridge´ is typical example of local gastronomy. We found a recipe of this dish on the website of the cultural association of Lobras. After having a look at the other recipes on this website, we can conclude that red peppers play quite an important role in the local gastronomy in general.Strings of red peppers in Tímar - foto: casa rural El Paraje

13 October 2009

Mesón Los Granaos in Lobras

Two of our walking routes pass through Lobras. Apart from the ´bar de pensionistas´ which was hardly ever open, there was no possibility to have a drink or a bite in this pretty village We are therefor pleased with the new initiative of the town hall to open a bar-restaurant. From now on, we will suggest our guests to do one of the Lobras routes in a weekend and have lunch in Mesón ´Los Granaos´. This establishment, which can be found in the former school building, opened a couple of months ago. The word is spreading quickly that Miguel and Ángeles, ´los Granaos´, serve good food at lunchtime on Saturdays, Sundays and bank holidays. Miguel is in charge of the meat from the grill and they offer a choice of dishes wish fresh fish and tapas. The place is nicely decorated and there is a terrace to enjoy the fabulous views of the Contraviesa. For groups special arrangements can be made on other days as well. For more information Miguel can be contacted on 679-793678. People enjoying the terrace of mesón Los Granaos in Lobras on the Día del Pílar 2009 - foto: casa rural El Paraje

4 October 2009

Día Mundial de las Aves celebrated in the Alpujarra

Yesterday on the International Bird Day, the first bird census in the Alpujarra took place. An English couple, Miranda Ravetto Wood and Trevor, had taken up this initiative. They have been bird watching in the area for over twenty years and had prepared a list of birds to hand out to the participants. The starting point was Alquería de Morayma in Cádiar. Just after leaving the centre to walk the GR-7 towards Lobras, one wildlife specialist spotted a merlin - esmerejón in Spanish and smelleken in Dutch - and was able to point it out to the others. This was quite a special observation as this falco columbarius is a migratory bird that you are not able to see here often. This was the first species that could be added to the list. In total the group has come up with a list of 33 different birds within a radius of six kilometres from the Alquería. All the participants enjoyed the morning very much. It was special to start off at the first light and experience the daybreak. Most birds were spotted during these magic early hours when it was still quite fresh. The originators of this event, are planning to organize a spring and autumn bird count every year. Anyone who wants to receive information on the next bird census or censo de aves in the Alpujarra, can contact the Alquería de Morayma. We will announce the next spring bird count on this blog as soon as we know the date.
More photographs and an enthusiastic account of this unforgettable morning can be found on ´La Otra Mirada´ a weblog of Colin Bertholet, one of the participants.

The first Alpujarran bird census on the third of October 2009 - foto: casa rural El Paraje
Related links:
- Our bird watching check list for the Alpujarras - Sierra Nevada.
- Organized tours with BirdwatchAlpujarras.

related keywords: eventos, evenementen, evénements, veranstaltungen, birds, aves, vogels, oiseaux, Vögel

29 September 2009

Mantis religiosa in the kitchen garden

While weeding the kitchen garden this afternoon, we were pleasantly surprised to see a praying mantis (Santa Teresa in Spanish and bidsprinkhaan in Dutch) sitting quietly on a red leaf of a strawberry plant. It is commonly known that the colour of this European mantis is a natural camouflage. They can be green, grey or brownish, depending on their habitat. To see a bright green sample on a red autumn leaf we thought to be so special, that we immediately went in search of our camera. After having taken a few pictures, it slowly started to move. While looking at this insect from a different position, we saw that it had to be a female on the verge of laying eggs. We wouldn´t mind seeing more mantises on our finca next year, as they are such striking, beautiful insects.
Mantis religiosa on an autumn leaf of a strawberry plant - foto: casa rural El Paraje

25 September 2009

Feria de Octubre de Cádiar 2009

Each year, in Cádiar a festival takes place to celebrate the end of the grape harvest. In the past, this wine and cattle fair often took place from the 5th to the 9th of October. This year however, the Feria de Octubre starts on the 8th of October and ends the 11th of October, a day before the national bank holiday. At 13.00 hours on Thursday the 8th of October, the fair starts with the inauguration of the Fuente del Vino. This is a wine fountain from which at specific hours the local vino costa is drawn and given out during these four festive days. There is a special website on this fair, on which the programme can be found. On this programme, we can read on which hours wine will pulled from this fountain and which activities will take place during the Feria de Octubre of 2009.

24 September 2009

Fiestas patronales in honour of San Miguel in Mecina Bombarón 2009

From the 26th to the 30th of September, our neighbouring village of Mecina Bombarón honours its patron saints San Miguel and Nuestra Señora de los Remedios. The programme of the festivities can be found on the website of the town hall of Alpujarra de la Sierra.

4 September 2009

Fresh figs

We love the time of the year that we can have fresh figs on the breakfast table and use them for our evening meals. On Sunday we were able to pick the first white ones, which we use in different desserts. As there are so many at once, we also placed a whole bunch in the sun, as this is the type that can be dried. But as long as they are in season, we try to pick them regularly so our guests can eat them fresh. They are at its best when picked ripe to eat. Our white figs are so sweet that we think they are a kind of natural candies. We therefor do not really understand the English expression “not care a fig about something”. One of our guests used to say after having eaten her favourite starter: “I have had my figs today”, which we find a much more appropiate saying. This coming weekend we can also start picking the larger dark blue figs about which we wrote an article for our blog last autumn.
 Fresh white figs - foto: casa rural El Paraje

22 August 2009

Argynnis pandora or Cardinal

The Cardinal is, apart from the Old World Swallowtail and the Scarce Swallowtail, one of the most eye-catching butterflies that fly around at ´El Paraje´ at the moment. This butterfly - ´pandora´ in Spanish and ´keizersmantel´ in Dutch – has two scientific names, Pandoriana pandora and Argynnis pandora. It is a large butterfly which seems to be more restless and faster than many others. For a few days we have been trying to take a picture of this beauty with orange upperwings, but it never sat still quite long enough. While following their behaviour this morning, we saw that a pair started mating in the foliage of one of our almond trees, which enabled us to take this photograph.
 Mating cardinals in an almond tree - foto: casa rural El Paraje

Related key words: vlinders, alpujarras, sierra nevada, wandelen, wandelingen, trektocht, standplaats vakantie, hiking, trekking, bérchules, B&B, hotel, wanderungen

21 August 2009

Música para Sierra Nevada in La Taha

Throughout the year 2009, different exhibitions and activities are organised to commemorate the XX ´Aniversario de la Ley de Espacios Naturales Protegidos de Andalucía´. We can find the programme for this on the website of the Junta de Andalucía. ´Música en las Montañas´ forms part of the festivities organized by the Parque Natural y Nacional de Sierra Nevada. For this important event, a choir was formed which gave a concert last night on the church square of Pitres. Apart from a performance of the choir with an orchestra, there were recitals of chamber music with cello and piano. Cat Jary, initiator of the concerts in the Alpujarras, played the cello with her former music teacher Bernard Gregor-Smith, pianist Yolande Wrigley and the talented son of this couple Ben Gregor-Smith. This quartet gave a beautiful recital of chamber music on the threshing floor of Capilerilla and later on in the evening on the Plaza de la Iglesia in Pitres. It is quite something that professional musicians that are used to playing in world-famous concert halls, are prepared to play in the open air on an ´era´ in the Alpujarras.
Although tonight is the last evening of the special concerts of ´Música para Sierra Nevada´, the programme ´Música en las Montañas´ continues with concerts on the 4th and 5th of September, the 31st of October and the 1st of November. Chamber music on the Era de Capilerilla on the 20th of August 2009 - foto: casa rural El Paraje

20 August 2009

Semana Cultural and Fiestas Patronales Lobras 2009

The semana cultural in Lobras starts on Sunday the 23rd of August at 10.00 hours with a ´mercadillo tradicional´. At 21.30 hours D. Jaime Ribot Martín will give a speech, which will be followed by a performance of Candiota, the Alpujarran association of traditional songs or ´troveros´. On Monday there are different workshops, tournaments and contests. On Tuesday the book ´La Guerra Civil en Lobras´ will be presented by the author D. Jaime Ribot Martín at 12.00 hours and there will be a theatre performance by Teatro Maravilla at 19.30 hours. On Wednesday there will be more workshops, the final of the ´paulo´ competition, and at 22.00 hours the women of Las Moreas, the ´asociación de mujeres´ of Lobras, will sing traditional songs. Thursday there will be a ´feria del mediodía´, a paella on the village square and traditional andalusian music by ´ Por Copla´ at 22.00 hours. Friday the 28th of August is the day of the patron saint of Lobras, San Agustín, which will mark the height of the festive week. At 12.00 hours there will be a service in his honour and his carving will be taken out in procesion at 20.30 hours. Saturday there will be a concert by the band San Blas from Cádiar in the morning and during the ´feria del mediodía´. There will be a music and dancing on the Era until midnight, after which the fiesta will be closed with fireworks and ´churros con chocalate´.

15 August 2009

Sculptures Manuel Martín at Expo Cádiar

Manuel Martín Quesada is one of the exhibitors at the Expo Cádiar 2009. At the entrance of the fair part of his sculptural project ´Por la memoria viva de la Alpujarra´ can be seen. This life-size representation of the Alpujarran agricultural heritage that is slowly disappearing, is unique for its combination of colour, shape and expresion. Outside ´la trilla´ can be seen, translated as ´the threshing´ which is always called ´la parva´ in the Alpujarra. In the background there are a few goats which are part of the representation of ´pastoreo con cabras´. A shepherd with more goats can be seen inside where Manuel Martín has another stand. Here we picked up a brochure on this magnificent project in which the sculptor explains his ideas and in which he gives information on the materials he used. This same text can be found on the blogsite with news and events in Cádiar. More information on the artist and sculptor who lives and works in Narila, can be found on the Manuel Martín website.
Proyecto escultórico Manuel Martín at Expo Cádiar foto: casa rural El Paraje

Related links:
- ExpoCadiar website
- Por la memoria via on the ExpoCadiar 2009 website

related keywords: art, kunst, art

14 August 2009

Expo Cádiar 2009

From the 14th to the 17th of August the X Feria Agroalimentaria, de Artesanía y Turismo is organized in Cádiar. This fair will be opened today at 13:30 hours. Apart from a demonstration of local products, handicrafts and services there will be a few performances and cultural activities. The programme can be found on the website of the expo . The fair is every year organized during the ´puente de agosto´.

13 August 2009

Fiestas San Roque, Narila 2009

Like Pitres, Narila also pays tribute to San Roque. As this is a village only a few hundred metres lower down in the valley, we will be able to hear the music of the band and of the verbena musical at El Paraje. This morning we picked up a programme of the San Roque festivities at the town hall of Cádiar.

12 August 2009

Fiestas Patronales San Roque, Pitres 2009

San Roque is the patron saint of many villages and cities throughout the world. Although this is not mentioned in the text of the life of Saint Roch on Wikipedia, this French saint is also the santo patrón of Pitres. The festivities in this vilage in his honour, will take place from the 11th to the 18th of August. This is the weekend programme of the ´Fiestas Patronalers en honor a San Roque en Pitres 2009

11 August 2009

¡Viva Santo Cristo!

Last weekend Alcútar celebrated its ´fiestas patronales´. The patron saint of this village is ´El Santísimo Cristo de la Misericordia´, whose carving can be seen hanging above the central altar of the village church throughout the year. For the celebrations it is taken down and placed on a portable platform with candles and red carnations. On Saturday evening about fifteen men from the village lifted the image up an carried it out of the church while the band was playing the announcement with impressive drumbeats. While one of the assistents exclaimed ¡viva Santo Cristo!, this was repeated by the ´alcuteros´ and ´berchulers´ with great fervour. After this the carving was taken through the small steep streets of Alcútar followed by the band and the faithful villagers carrying candles. After two hours the ´costaleros´ or carriers arrived back at the church exhausted. This is no wonder as the total weight is about a thousand kilos and they sometimes needed to almost go down on their knees to be able to pass underneath the ´tinaos´. The procession was followed by music and dancing until dawn. On Sunday a lot of activities were organized and there was paella for everybody in the afternoon. On Sunday evening the carving was hung back above the altar with all due ceremony. Blessed red carnations were handed down for people to take home. The music of the band playing inside the church was impressive and moving. We therefore encourage everybody to attend the ´subida del Santo Cristo´ when they have a change. The fiestas in Alcútar in his honour, are always celebrated the second weekend of August.Subida del Santo Cristo, the closing ceremony of the fiestas patronales of Alcútar - foto: casa rural El Paraje

8 August 2009

Música en las Montañas 2009, an intimate concert in Atalbéitar

Yesterday we assisted one of the concerts of the programme Música en las Montañas. On the Plaza de Atalbéitar, Boris played the violin and clarinet and Frank the accordeon. They played, amongst others, klezmer - traditional jewish folk music - and Argentinian tangos. They created with their music a fairy-tale athmosphere on the village square of this tiny little village. Tonight they will play at 22.00 hours in the larger town of Pitres which we can see on the programme that the Alexander Music School recenlty published on their website. On Youtube you can see a video of their performance in 2008 in Ferreirola with the same intimate atmosphere.Música en las Montañas concert on the Plaza de Atalbéitar - foto: casa rural El Paraje

31 July 2009

Fires in the valley between Narila and Alcútar

A fire broke out at 02.30 hours in the morning of the 29th of July between Narila and Alcútar. Fire brigades worked two and a half days to try to control this fire, but it started at least three times after it seemed to be under control. Another fire broke out again yesterday afternoon. This time closer to Alcútar. Sixty families needed to be evacuated as many houses got filled with smoke. As mentioned in the article in the Ideal digital newspaper, Infoca used all possible resources by way of precaution, because of the difficulty of the terrain. Fortunately there are as far as we know, no casualties or personal injuries. About half a dozen fincas have been affected, an animal farm and some cultivated terrains. A valuable wooded area with old trees near the fuente agria of Narila got lost and guests saw how some bee hives exploded. At ´El Paraje´ we did have our moments of nervousness, but luckily the fire did not get very close. We admire the work of the fire fighters as we could see how very difficult the approach routes were for the helicopters and aeroplanes. The causes of the fires are still being investigated.

27 July 2009

Semana cultural de Juviles 2009

From the 31st of July to the 5th of August, the town hall of Juviles organizes a semana cultural. This is the programme of the sixth edition of this cultural week, which can also be found on the website of the Ayuntamiento. There are ten different workshops scheduled and interesting activities for young and old. On Saturday evening at 20.00 hours there is a conference on the new historic novel of Ildefonso Falcones, ´La mano de Fátima´, in which Juviles plays an important role. Friday night there will be dancing, Saturday folkloric music (a velada de Alpujarran trovos), Sunday karaoke, Monday an open air cinema for the children (Ratatouille) and on the last evening the people that participated in the percussion and music workshops will give a concert. We admire what the mayoress Maria Lourdes Molina Henares and her team of town councillors are achieving for the village. View of our picturesque neighbouring village Juviles - foto: casa rural El Paraje

25 July 2009

Festival de jazz and blues in Busquístar

For the fifth time, a jazz and blues festival is organised in Busquístar.
Concerts are given at the ´patio de las escuelas´ and they start at 22.30 hours.
This is the programme of the three nights:
Tuesday 11th of August: Granada Jazz Ensemble
Wednesday 12th of August: Domestic jazz collective
Thursday the 13th of August: Paul Stocker & La Dubi Dubi Band

24 July 2009

Fiestas de San Pantaleón Bérchules 2009

San Pantaleón is the patron saint of Bérchules. He is honoured on the 27th of July. There is a holy mass at 12.00 hours and the carving of Saint Pantaleon is taken out in procession at 21.00 hours. This is the programme with other festive events and competitions that are organised from the 25th to the 28th of July 2009.
Programa San Pantaleón Bérchules 2009

23 July 2009

Jornadas Culturales de Cástaras y Nieles 2009

For the fifth consecutive year, the Asociación Cultural de Cástaras y Nieles organizes cultural days. This is the programme of the Jornadas Culturales de Cástaras y Nieles for Friday the 31st of July and Saturday the 1st of Auguts. The cultural association of these villages is one of the most active ones in the Alpujarra. The website of the Asociación Cultural de Cástaras y Nieles is well-documented and worth a visit.
Drawing on the cover of the publication Cástaras, misterio entre aguas y piedra

19 July 2009

Música en las montañas, summer music festival in the Alpujarra

´Musica en la Montañas´ is a succesful cultural initiative in the Alpujarra. This is the fifth summer that this festival of classical and folkloric music is organised. Like in former years, there will be a concerts on ´eras´ (threshing floors) and village squares, in churches and in the building of the Alexander Music School (AMS) in Ferreirola. Cat Jary, resident director of this music school started it all up. She has devised an interesting and varied programme of activities throughout the year and can now count on the cooperation of the town hall of La Taha and the Junta de Andalucía.
The latest addition to the activities is Alpujarra R-3, a mountain restoration project. The project works with local Alpujarran farmers and teams of volunteers to restore the ancient Moorish irrigation systems and rebuild dry stone walls which support terraces, so that once again those terraces can be cultivated. The Alexander Music Scool, in collaboration with the local government and Wapapura produced their first CD, including the Choir of the Taha and many concerts of the Music in the Mountains programme. In the newspaper article ´Música en las Montañas de la Alpujarra, fuente de vida para la tierra´ published in the Ideal the seventeenth of June, more information on this latest project can be found.
General information on the the different initiatives can be found on the website of the Alexander Music School. Unfortunately, the programma of this year´s festival has not been published yet on this website. We were therefore glad that we found the programme in the brochure ´Acércate a Sierra Nevada´, a publication of the Consejería de Medio Ambiente of the Junta de Andalucía. We also came across the programme ´Musíca en las Montañas´ julio-noviembre 2009 on the blog of Antonio J. Puerta of Cortijo Puerta in Órgiva.

17 July 2009

Papaver lapeyrousianum or mountain poppy

The Papaver lapeyrousianum is one of the botanical jewels we photographed near the top of the Mulhacén on the twelfth of July. We saw a few of these orange poppies while walking up on the Loma, but also while descending towards de Carretera de Veleta. The sierra poppy grows in the Pyrenees as well, but as it is considered an independent subspecies, it is known as ´amapola de Sierra Nevada´. This Papaver lapeyrousianum grows in the crioromediterranean level, between 3,200 and 3,450 metres. This is what we can read in ´Flora amenazada y endémica de Sierra Nevada´(pdf 18 MB) of Gabriel Blanca López that was published by the University of Granada in 2001. It also states that it is an endangered species. There is in the Sierra Nevada only one population that consists of not more than 2,500 plants. The ´cabra montés´ constitutes one of the threats, because of direct consumption as well as nitrifaction. On the same day that we took this picture, we actually saw quite a large number of mountain goats. We hope that there remains a good balance, because it would be a shame to lose this beautiful mountain poppy.

14 July 2009

Saxifraga Nevadensis, the highest plant of Spain

We were pleasantly surprised by the number of flowering plants we saw close to the top of the Mulhacén last Sunday, the twelfth of July. We had read in a guide to the Natural Park of Sierra Nevada of the Junta de Andalucía that although this crioromediterranean level (altitudes above 2,900 metres) seems completely bleak, it in fact shelters more than sixty endemic species. But up to the moment you have witnessed this yourself, it might be difficult to imagine. We saw, amongst others, the endemic nevada violet (viola crassiuscula or violeta de Sierra Nevada) and tarragon (Chaenorrhinum glareosum or Espuelilla) while walking up the Loma de Mulhacén. While getting closer and closer to the summit, we became very curious to find out what actually would be the highest plant of Spain. It turned out to be the Saxifraga nevadensis or Romperrocas de Sierra Nevada. The author of the botanic name Saxifraga nevadenis is Edmond Boissier, who wrote about this Nevada saxifrage in his work Diagnoses plantarum orientalium novarum (1856). Different authorities on the flora of this national park, give a different minimum height of this plant according to the on-line magazine Waste it grows above 2,100 metres and on the website of the Ministerio del Medio Ambiente del Gobierno de España it says that it grows above 2,600 metres. On the website of Waste magazine we can also read that it is on the list of endangered species in Andalusia, the Lista Roja de la Flora Vascular de Andalucía. We took the photograph of this endemic plant about ten metres from the top, at about of 3,470 metres. This Nevada saxifrage is a member of the saxifrages or stone-breakers. The Latin word ´saxifraga´ means literally "stone-breaker", from Latin saxum ´rock´ or ´stone´ and ´frangere´, which means ´to break´. "It is usually explained by reference to certain saxifrages' ability to settle in the cracks of rocks. " This Saxifraga nevadensis is an archetypal saxifrage, but the name ´rock-breaker´ could have been used for many other species in this segment as well. It is incredible to see the variety of beautiful flowers that grow in the tiniest irregularity or fissure of the steep high slopes Sierra Nevada. There are saxifrages similar to the Saxifraga nevadensis to be found in the Pyrenees, like the Saxifraga pubescens. Other species of saxifraga to be found in Sierra Nevada are: Saxifraga erioblasta, Saxifraga granulata, Saxifraga oppositifolia, Saxifraga stellaris subsp robusta and Saxifraga trabutiana.

Related articles:
- References on the local flora

Related links:
- On-line magazine Waste: La flora endémica del macizo de Sierra Nevada
- On-line magazine Waste: Series de vegetación,  rocas verticales

Related key words: family saxifragaceae, saxifragas, steenbreekfamilie, familie der steinbrechgewächse, famille des saxifragacées, nevada stone-breaker, nevada steenbreek, nevada steinbrech

Ascent of the Mulhacén in high summer

An ascent of the Mulhacén (3,482 metres) is an attractive option for walking in high summer. For those who can not or do not want to cover the almost two thousand metres height difference from Trevélez, there are two options. The first one is to drive up to the Hoya del Portillo (2,150 metres) from Capileira. The second one is to make a reservation for the bus service up to the Alto del Chorillo (2,710 metres). This ´Servicio de Interpretación de las Altas Cumbres´, is a bus service from Capileira (about one hour) during the weekends and bank holidays in the summer. Information can be found on the website of the Ministerio de Medio Ambiento del Gobierno de España. It is advisable to book the minibus in advance, as we found out that at the height of the season it can be booked up for several weeks ahead. Luckily two seats became available for us last Sunday.
Two minibuses went up at 08.30 hours. The guide in our bus treated most things as a joke and it was therefore not a very serious environmental interpreting service. We had 6,5 hours before we would need to be back at the Alto del Chorillo (also called Mirador the Trevélez). Within this time period it was possible to go up the top of the highest mountain on the Iberian Peninsula via the Loma the Mulhacén (route 22 on this map) and return on the ´Carretera de Veleta´ without having to hurry. There was enough time to take photographs of the mountain goats and the special flowers that can be enjoyed on this route this time of the year. On the top of the Mulhacén there was a gathering of walkers, runners and mountain bikers of different ages and nationalities. If you want to be on the top alone, you better avoid the summer weekends. We found out that the bus back can be a quite a bit later – almost an hour - as planned. Our advise is therefore to be well prepared for warm as well as cold weather, as there is no shelter. This is a useful link with the weather forecast for the Mulhacén. Last Sunday the temperatures were quite pleasant, but the ultraviolet rays were very strong as often happens in July and August. Mountain goat on the ruined hermitage ´Ermita de la Virgen de las Nieves´ on the top of the Mulhacén - foto: casa rural El Paraje

8 July 2009

Rafael Gan started a blog

Rafael Gan takes great interest in everything that is going on in the Alpujarra. That he is a great connoisseur of this region, becomes evident when reading ´La Alpujarra´ a book in the collection ´Granada en tus manos´, that he wrote a few years ago. This was a series given out with the Ideal, a newspaper for which he writes quite regularly. ´La Alpujarra´ is divided in seven routes, ruta 1 is on Las Villas, Puerta de la Alpujarra and this chapter has recently been published digitally in the section ´información turística´ of the Ideal. We are very pleased that Rafa started his own blog, because we know he will publish a lot of interesting things on the area. We look forward to follow his blog closely.

P.S. In 2011 Rafa started a new project RAFA-TOURS. We mis the blog but know that the new project is equally interesting to folllow. ´Animo Rafa!´

1 July 2009

The natural pool of Bérchules has been filled up

The public swimming pool of Alpujarra de la Sierra opened last Saturday and the one in Juviles will open the fourth of July. A dive in Bérchules is also possible, either in the swimming pool of ´El Cercado´ or in a basin in the river bed. This reservoir has been filled up, but to swim in here you should have no fear of cold water. This small natural pool can be reached by walking or driving down the road which leaves the car park indicated with a sign ´Fuente Agria´. It is a lush green recreation area with some beautiful old trees that give a lot of shade. Recently the town hall has put names of different trees on pieces of slate. There are picnic tables and there is a spring with ferruginous water. This explains why it is known as the ´Fuente Agria´ which could be translated as ´bitter spring´ because of the taste of its water. The nice thing about this picnic spot of Bérchules is that there is now a lot of water running through the river Guadalfeo. For many years there was little water as it was almost all used for the power station further on. The natural pool of Bérchules ready for the summmer of 2009 - foto: casa rural El Paraje

29 June 2009

Walking in high summer, Acequias de Poqueira

Capileira is like Trevélez a good starting point for a walk in the summer because of its altitude (1,436 metres). A number of years ago there were eight waymarked routes in the Poqueira valley, and each one was signposted with a different colour. One of our favourites was the ´yellow´ route, the Acequias del Poqueira. A few days ago, we found out that the waymarking of the routes in this area has changed. The walk ´Acequias de Poqueira´ has remained the same, but it is now an official Pequeño Recorrido, the PR-A 23. It has been newly signposted with yellow-and-white and signs with the name of the walk on some crucial points. A large board at the starting point gives now information on this itinerary of about sixteen kilometres.

The first part of the route we did in company of a farmer on his way to his cortijo. He said he was now the only person in Capileira to go with his mule to his farm where he still has a herd of goats. Until reaching his cortijo, he talked animatedly about the past and the present, his family and his farm. We continued along the river Naute trying to imagine what this area looked like in earlier times when the land around the ruined cortijos was still being cultivated. The Cortijo las Tomas at 2,100 metres is the highest farm building on this route. It is also a junction of paths, one continues another four hundred metres uphill to the manned refuge, the Refugio Poqueira. We continued on the waymarked path in easterly direction that winds around the contours between the Acequia Alta and Acequia Baja for four kilometres. It was a clear day, so in front of us we could see the Mediterranean Sea in the distance and to the right we had good views of the highest mountains of Spain. On an information board just past the Corrales de Pitres, it is explained which mountains you can see from this point. Quite surprisingly we were the only hikers to enjoy these impressive panoramic views on a Sunday with the perfect walking weather. The path passes many springs, rivers and acequias, so there was still some verdant growth that attracts lots of butterflies. It is definitely a route we can recommend, also in high summer. It is well waymarked and information on this walk incl gps track can be found on the website of the Consejería de Medio Ambiente of the Junta de Andalucía.
One of the last farmers in the Poqueira valley to go to his farm on muleback - foto: casa rural El Paraje

24 June 2009

Walking in high summer 2009

´El Paraje´ is situated at 1,400 metres and is therefore always cooler than the coast or the cities. Nevertheless it can be quite warm for serious walking in the summer. We advise people to leave early and enjoy the higher parts of the Sierra Nevada. A recently tested summer walk climbs from Trevélez up to the Alto del Chorillo at 2,720 metres. With fantastic views on the Poqueira valley, it takes the path south into the direction of Alto del Portillo. Before reaching this point, at about 2,400 metres it connects with the ´pista forestal´. Following this track down 2 kilometres it connects with the GR240 or Sulayr at the Prados de las Juncias. The Sulayr brings you back to Trevélez. This proofed to be a beautiful circular walk of about 25 kilometres. With a map of the area it is possible to do this walk as there a wooden posts almost all along the way. A descripton is therefore not really needed.Views of the high sierra with the Veleta while doing a circular walk from Trevélez on the 21st of June 2009 - foto: casa rural El Paraje

8 May 2009

Sendero Local La Solana in Murtas

A few days ago we checked out a Sendero Local in de Sierra de la Contraviesa. ´La Solana´ is a circular route of 4,2 kilometres that starts just off the road that links Murtas with Mecina Tedel. It offers magnificent scenery almost from the start. You follow a track that skirts round to the left of the Pico de Molino de Viento with views of the Alpujarra villages and the Sierra Nevada. Further along beautiful views towards the sea can be enjoyed on clear days. At the end of the route a small path takes you back to the village of Murtas. The number and diversity of wild flowers on this route is amazing this time of the year. In February when the almonds are blossoming it will also be a very pleasant stroll. The small circular walk is well signposted and can be done without the description from the publication of the Senderos Locales or the GPS track and map from the website of Alpujarra Turística.
View of Murtas while walking the Sendero Local La Solana - foto: casa rural El Paraje

Related keywords: Alpujarras, Sierra Nevada, wandelen, wandelingen, trektocht, standplaats vakantie, hiking, trekking, Berchules, B&B, hotel, wanderungen

28 April 2009

Jornadas Etnológicas de Lobras y Tímar 2009

The cultural organization of Lobras and Tímar organizes for the fifth time ethnological days. This year they will take place in the school of Lobras on the 1st and 2nd of May. The theme is wine: ´a paseo por la historia del vino´, translated as a ´stroll through the history of wine´. The programme can be found on the website of the Asociacíon Cultural y Etnológica ´Acequia de los Castaños´.

26 April 2009

Water distribution at the Cima del Tejar

This post is a serial to the articles: Publication on the acequias de careo from the Alpujarra and Walking along the Acequia de Mecina.
In the Guidebook on the Gran Recorrido Sendero Sulayr published by Editorial Penibética, there is a text on the Acequia de Mecina. It says that it is worthwhile to follow the water down on the days that the ´acequiero´ is distributing the water at the different simas. A sima or cima is a flat area where the water finally infiltrates.
We called the acequiero responsible for this careo canal to ask which days the water would run down as far as the Cima del Tejar where the Acequia de Mecina ends. He explained that this is in the spring four days a month, and that the 25th of April would be next day.
So yesterday with the sound of the music and fireworks of the San Marcos festivities coming up from Bérchules, we walked up. About forty metres below the cima, we heard the beautiful sound of water. We couldn´t believe our eyes when we walked further up. The sight of swampy green grass and small waterfalls and streams everywhere was magnificent.
It is amazing to give it a thought that this ingenious system has enabled people to drink water from the fountains in the village of Mecina Bombarón for at least a thousand years. The profession of acequiero has existed from the Muslim period up to the present. These are the persons that are authorised to control the floodgates and that are in charge of distributing the water at the different simas. We did not have the chance to meet the acequiero of the Acequia de Mecina yesterday, but this is a good reason to walk up another day when ´le toca el agua´ again. As we think that the system of this acequia de careo is really something you should see instead of read about, we made a selection of photos. These photos illustrate the system from the beginning – where it starts taking water from the Río Grande de Bérchules – to 7,5 kilometres further down, just below the Cima del Tejar where the water is distributed.

Related links:
-Dina-mar: Galería fotográfica de los Careos de las Alpujarras

24 April 2009

Bonelli´s eagle in the valley of the Río Grande de Bérchules

Yesterday guests told us enthusiastically that they had spotted a pair of Bonelli´s eagles, halfway from Bérchules towards the Junta de los Ríos. As keen bird watchers they knew that this was quite an unique experience as only a thousand odd pairs of this ´Hieraaetus fasciatus´ survive in Europe. The article about the Bonelli´s eagle on Wikipedia explains that it is a large bird of prey. Its population is declining throughout Europe. The strongest populations are in Extremadura, Andalucia, Valencia and Castilla La Mancha, though the bird appears to be in decline everywhere. This bird is classified as ´endangerd´ in the ´Libro Rojo de las Aves de España´ published by SEO/BirdLife. A survey by the Junta de Andalucía in 2005 puts the number of Bonelli's eagle at 650 throughout Andalusia, between 52 and 56 pairs in the Granada province as we can read in the article ´Aguilas perdiceras en el sur de España´ on Waste Magazine. As far as we know, the river valley of the Río Grande de Bérchules is not described as a site in any bird watching book, but is nevertheless interesting. Another bird that was seen on the Junta de los Rios route last week, was a pair of red kites. It was the first time that we heard of an observation of this Milvus Milvus, and we therfore added this red kite to a our bird watching Sierra Nevada check list. Like the Bonelli´s eagle, the red kite is also on the list of 39 ´endangerd´ epecies in the ´Libro Rojo de las Aves de España´.
In general, the Alpujarras offer ornithologists considerable opportunities for exploration of interesting habitats. Three sites in the Alpujarras are described in the ornitholgocial publication ´Where to Watch birds in Southern and Western Spain´ by Ernest García and Andres Paterson: cortijo Dar al Habibi and parque forestal de Soportújar, Capileira to Sierra Nevada and the valley of Trevélez river. On the list of resident Alpujarran birds in this book, figures the Bonelli´s Eagle. We had heard about people seeing the Bonelli´s eagle a number of times, once above ´El Paraje´, but this was the first time a pair was spotted. It could therefor very well be that there´s a nesting place in the river valley of Bérchules, one of the very few in Europe.
Read our bird watching checklist for the Alpujarras - Sierra Nevada here.

22 April 2009

Fiestas de San Marcos Bérchules 2009

Like in many other Alpujarran villages, Bérchules organizes all kind of festivities in honour of San Marcos, the patron saint of the animals. This saint´s day is the 25th of April which is this year on a Saturday and therefor the most important day. In the morning at 10.00 hours ´roscos´ or breadrings are blessed by the priest. At 12.00 hours the Holy Mass starts. After the Holy Mass, at 13.00 hours, the figure of San Marcos is carried out of the church together with the figure of San Isidro Labrador, the patron saint of the farmers. Children in colourful clothes, youngsters in covered wagons, riders and villagers with their animals join the procession that slowly moves to Alcútar where the blessed ´roscos´ are handed out. There are a lot more activities going on, see programme of the Semana Cultural and Fiestas de San Marcos & San Isidro 2009:

19 April 2009

Adenocarpus Decorticans or ´Rascavieja´

April is the month that the Adenocarpus Decorticans comes into flower. It is an attractive bright yellow leguminous shrub growing up to three metres. It is endemic to mountainous areas in Andalusia and North Africa according to a Spanish text on Wikipedia. There are three other species of Adenocarpus in Spain: Complicatus, Hispanicus and Telonensis. The Decorticans is the only species to be found in the Sierra Nevada and it is one of the protected plants of this Parque Nacional and Natural. We are very pleased to have this ´rascavieja´, as the local people call it, on our own terrain. The dense clusters of rich yellow flowers covering this flatpod are quite spectacular. We have also come across the name ´silver broom´, probably because of its silver-gray foliage.

Adenocarpus Decorticans a plant that flowers in April on our finca - foto: casa rural El Paraje

18 April 2009

Senderos Locales Mecina Bombarón connected

We checked out whether it is possible to combine the two new linear Senderos Locales of Mecina Bombarón, the ´Acequia Alta´ and ´Acequia Baja´.
We started with the ´Acequia Baja´ which begins along the road out of Mecina Bombarón towards Yegen. A sign of this walk you find next to the Ermita de los Remedios. You can do this walk without a description as you can just follow the irrigation channel. Where the acequia takes water from the Río de Mecina there is a sign that says, ´Fin de Sendero Local´. Just before this sign, you see to your left a white paint waymark at the other side of the waterway. Apparently these marks have been painted to walk from one irrigation channel to the other. So following these white marks, you climb steeply up through a beautiful chestnut wood. You can´t really get lost, because at some point you will reach the ´Acequia Alta´. Then you turn left to follow this irrigation channel back to the village. There are very few new wooden posts of the Sendero Local to guide you back, but there are still quite a number of old yellow-and-white waymarks.
It turned out to be quite easy to connect the two new linear Senderos Locales and make it a circular route. In the publication of the Senderos Locales they say that the best time for his walk is in autumn to collect chestnuts. We think this route to be special at many different times of the year. On a spring day like today it is nice to see water running everywhere and the yellow flowers of the Adenocarpus Decorticans that grow abundantly along the ´Acequia Baja´ are beautiful.
Adenocarpus Decorticans along the ´Acequia Baja´ of Mecina Bombarón - foto: casa rural El Paraje

15 April 2009

Senderos Locales Alpujarra de la Sierra newly waymarked

The municipality Alpujarra de la Sierra is formed by the villages Mecina Bombarón, Yegen, Golco and Montenegro. It has four Pequeños Recorridos which we can see on an old map on the official website of the town hall, on the brochure of the municipality and on different maps of the area. Nevertheless, the yellow-and-white paint marks of these routes can no longer be relied upon. Recently the signposting of three of the walks has been done anew with wooden posts with white arrows. One route, PR A 109 or the ´Sendero de las Encinas, has fallen into oblivion.

The PR-A 112 or ´Sendero de Gerald Brenan´ is a short circular walk from Yegen. On the website of Alpujarra Turística information can be found on this ´Sendero de Gerald Brenan´. We wrote about this walk in an earlier post in which we explained that only the direction of the route changed.
The PR-A 110 or ´Sendero de la Salud´ is a short circular walk from Yegen. On the website of Alpujarra Turística information on this walk ´Sendero de la Salud´ can be found. Apart from the new waymarking nothing else about this route changed.
The PR-A 111 or ´Sendero de las Acequias´ was a short circular route that started at the Plaza Vieja of Mecina Bombarón. Now there are two linear Senderos Locales: the ´Acequia Alta´ that starts in the upper part of the village and the ´Acequia Baja´ that starts next to the Ermita de los Remedios along the A-7208. In the publication and on the website of Alpujarra Turística information can be found on these two short walks ´Acequia Alta´ and ´Acequia Baja. Along the water channel of the Acequia Baja some old waymarking can be seen altough it was never officially part of a Pequeño Recorrido. If you would need to choose between these two routes, we personally think the Acequia Baja walk to be more pretty.
PS On the website of Alpujarra Turística the length and duration mentioned for the different walks are incorrect.
Related links:
- Pequeños recorridos Andalucia (wiki)
Mecina Bombarón with Golco in the background - foto: casa rural El Paraje

Related keywords: Alpujarras, Sierra Nevada, wandelen, wandelingen, trektocht, hiking, trekking, Berchules, B&B, hotel, wanderungen

14 April 2009

Club Unesco Alpujarra organizes Jornadas ´El Agua en La Alpujarra´

A new institution ´Club Unesco de la Alpujarra granadina´ has been founded and was presented on the 20th of March in Órgiva. The volunteers will dedicate themselves to different causes that are related to the environment, the natural and cultural heritage, culture and education. This club is under the auspices of the ´Centro Unesco de Andalucía´ and is part of the centres that are supported by the international organization Unesco. The chairman of the Centro Unesco de Andalucía is Miguel Carrasco, born in Órgiva, he is proud that the Alpujarra club is one of the first to be constituted. This is what we can read in the newspaper article ´El Club Unesco de la Alpujara empieza su andadura para trabajar por la comarca´ published in Granada Hoy on the 24th of March 2009. At the end of this article it is said that the first event organized by this local Unesco club, in cooperation with the Asociación Cultural Abuxarra, will be a conference on the water of the Alpujarra. This conference will take place in Pitres on the 17th and 18th of April 2009. The acequias will be one of the important topics of the different speeches as we can see on the programme of these Jornadas ´El Agua en la Alpujarra´.

5 April 2009

Media maratón of Cádiar, an initiative to be encouraged

The first edition of the ´Alpujarras cross country media maratón´ started in Cádiar this morning at ten o´clock at Plaza España. A hundred people took part running or walking. The scenic route was almost all on country tracks and paths and for a great part along the river Guadalfeo. The weather was good, altough for the uphill parts quite warm.
It must be appreciated that Mike and Sue Busby took this initiative in a region where walking and running for fun have little history. Apart from confusion about some parts of the exact track, other apects were well taken care of thanks to a lot of volunteers.
The male winner was Serafín Moreno Manzano in 1:32:06 followed closely by Fernando Godino Crespo in 1:32:07. The female winner Ana Manzano González finished in 2:18:17. Both winners are from Cádiar. The results and photographs will be published on the website of the organization of the Alpujarra experience.
A second edition of this media maratón should be supported. Learning from the experience of today and using the feedback of participants it can become a good tradition. Thanks Mike, Sue and all other people that contributed to the organization of this event.
PS This morning the 10th of April, we´re glad to read on the website of the cross country challenge that there will be a second edition of the Cádiar half marathon next year. We wish the new team good luck with the organization.
PS today 27th of march 2010 there is no sign of any second edition.
Serafin Moreno Manzano (left) won the first edition of the media maratón, second place was for Fernando Godino Crespo (right) foto: Casa Rural El Paraje

3 April 2009

Wineries or ´bodegas´ in the Alpujarras

The Alpujarras is an up-and-coming wine area. Most Alpujarras wines or ´vinos de las Alpujarras´ produced in relatively small bodegas. In the publication of the ADR Alpujarra ´El Sabor the la Alpujarra´ which we mentioned in an earlier post a list of local bodegas can be found. Here we give the complete list of wineries from this publication after having checked and updated the links. This post has a permanent link in the side column.

Bodegas Adela Gualda - Albondón
Bodegas Antonio Manzano Gualda - Albondón
Bodegas Fco. del Castillo Martín - Albondón
Bodegas Felix García Santiago - Albondón
Bodegas Francisco Manzano Santiago - Albondón
Bodegas Hnos. Moreno - Albondón
Bodegas José Rodríguez Lupiañez - Albondón
Bodega los Astacios - Albondón
Bodega Mayla, S.L. - Albondón
Bodega Vinos la Fragua de Albondón - Albondón
Bodegas El Sotillo - Albuñol (La Rábita)
Bodega Lorente - Albuñol
Bodega Alquería de Morayma - Cádiar
Bodega Barranco Oscurro - Cádiar - (video on this blog)
Bodegas García de Verdevique - Cástaras - (video on Youtube: IX Feria del Vino y la Denominación de Origen 2008
Bodega de Maria - Laroles
Bodega Fuentezuelas - Laroles - (video on Youtube : XIV Feria de Turismo, Artesanía y Alimentación "Hecho en la Alpujarra" 2009)
Bodega Maria Carmen Ramos Martín - Laroles
Bodega los Barrancos - Lobras
Bodegas Cuatro Vientos - Murtas
Bodega El Trovador - Murtas
Bodega Piedras Blancas - Torvizcón
Juan de Reyes - Torvizcón (see related article Alpujárride)
Bodega Dominio Buenavista - Ugíjar (vinos ´veleta´)

Bodega El Pintao - Abla
Bodega de Alboloduy - Alboloduy
Bodeja Cortijo La Vieja - Alcolea (vinos ´iniza´)
Bodega Finca Anfora - Enix (vinos ´vega enix´)
Bodega Fuente Victoria - Fondón
Selección de vinos de Fondón - Fondón
Bodega Cortijo El Cura - Laujar de Andarax
Bodegas Valle de Laujar - Laujar de Andarax
Bodega Condado de Ojancos - Laujar de Andarax
Bodegas y Viñedos de Laujar - Laujar de Andarax
Bodega Hacienda Capellanía - Nacimiento
Bodega Antonio Jiménez - Padules
Bodega Barea Granados - Padules

On our website we have a section on the bodegas from which we have wines on our wine list.

Related articles:
Guía de vinos de Granada - Granada wine guide
- All articles with wine index label

related keywords: wines, wijnen, vinos, vins, weine, bodega, wijnmakerij, weingut, wijnproeverij, vineyards, wijngaarden, vignoble,

1 April 2009

Publication on acequias "The ´Careos´ from Alpujarra"

There are two types of acequias to be found in the Alpujarras, there are ´acequias de riego´ irrigation canals and there are ´acequias de careo´. The ´acequias de careo´ fill aquifers so that the springs keep flowing in the dry months. At the same time they generate pastures - ´carear´ means to guide the livestock to graze - which explains the name of this type of canal. The ´Acequia de Mecina´, about which we wrote in our last post, is an ´acequia de careo´.
While looking for more information on acequias we found out that in December 2005 an interesting paper was written on the ´acequias de careo´ or ´careos´ canals as they are called in this essay. In 2006 an abstract of this Spanish thesis was published in the Revista de Ciencia, Tecnolgía y Medio Ambiente, called Technolgi@ y Desarrrollo. An English version of this paper on the ´careos´ can be found on the internet as well. The title of the Englis version is ´The ´careos´ from Alpujarra (Granada, Spain), a historical example of artificial recharge previous to XIII century applicable to the XXI century, characterization and inventory.´ This paper is written by A. Enrique Fernández Escalante, Manuel García Rodríguez and Fermín Villarroya Gil and arose from the Ph.D. thesis of the first author.
In the paper it is explained that these canals are traditionally dug in soils or rock, and are used like a technique for artificial recharge of aquifers in the Alpujarra area, mainly by means of waters of thaw of the Sierra Nevada range. It says that their origin goes back to at least the year 1139, but that its most extensive employment was reached in the last centuries of the Muslim time, XIII to XV centuries, when an intricate canilisation system was developed for the maximum use of the water. ´Careos´ canals facilitate the infiltration of the water. The water of the rivers and streams is diverted by these canals during the winter and the spring, to the flat areas where it infiltrates. Each canal has its areas of recharge called ´simas´ or ´cimas´. The investigators classified and defined a total of 23 ´careos´ canals. They state that the Acequia de Mecina is the largest to be found in the Sierra Nevada, that it is well-developed, well-conserved and that it has twenty ´simas´ were the water is distributed. One of the conclusions in the paper is: "It would be important to preserve and to maintain these systems of careos, given their high historical and environmental value." We think this paper to be very informative and we are glad that local authorities are each time more aware of the importance of these canals that have been operative for at least eight centuries. Since the declaration of Sierra Nevada as Parque Nacional y Natural in 1999, the program to recuperate the canals has been given high priority. "Where would we be without them?" in other words: ¡Si no fuera por ellas!, says the sign along the Acequia de Mecina.Sign along the Acequia de Mecina explains the importance of the canals with the exclamation ¡Si no fuera por ellas! - foto: casa rural El Paraje

Walking along the ´Acequia de Mecina´

In an earlier post, we wrote that the local circular walk ´Junta de los Ríos´ has been changed into a linear walk. This new walk follows the ´Camino a Lanteira´ to the Junta de los Ríos. Instead of following the irrigation channel ´acequia nueva´ back to the village, it continues six kilometres northwards passing numerous ´cortijos´ or farm buildings. The threshing circles are no longer used, but tomatoes and beans are grown here, there are some fruit orchards and there are a few farms for cattle breeding. After having ascended 620 metres over ten kilometres in distance, you arrive at Cortijo de los Pollos. This cortijo is at an altitude of 1,944 metres one of the highest situated farms of Bérchules. Next to this cortijo, you find a sign saying ´Fin de Sendero Local´ , in other words ´End of the Local Walk´.
As we do not like linear walks ourselves, we were challenged to see whether we could continue from here and make a loop. We found out that by following an abandoned water channel behind this farm building, we could connect to the path along the Acequia de Mecina close to where it starts taking water from the Río Grande de Bérchules. Then we knew we had found a possibility to make a circular route. By following this canal down for 7,5 kilometres we could then connect to the GR-7 to get back to the village. We did this route when there was no meltwater running down, and were curious to actually see the system functioning. Today we took the opportunity and saw water running in the first four kilometres. This is the part from where it starts taking water from the river to a branch just above the ´pista alta´ and Cortijo de Fuente Merino. Altough there was no water running from this point to the Cima del Tejar, it is still a pleasure to simply enjoy its beauty. The Acequia de Mecina is well conserved and suplies water to the village of Mecina Bombarón. It is one of the most impressive canals in the Alpujarreas that we know and it is fascinating to imagine that it has been operative from the Muslim period. Our ´Acequia de Mecina´ route has a total length of almost 24 kilometres, four kilometres longer than walking the same way back of the Junta de los Ríos linear walk, but much more interesting.
Close to the beginning of the Acequia de Mecina that takes water from the Río Grande de Bérchules - foto: casa rural El Paraje

31 March 2009

Accommodations in the Alpujarras - Sierra Nevada

On the official website of the Granada tourist board ( you can search accommodation per villlage.
On the official website of the Almería tourist board (almerí you can also search per village.

Look here for Alpujarras campings.

Look here for the Sierra Nevada refuge huts

Apart from the lists above, we would personally like to recommend these accommodations in the Alpujarras.

Casa Rural El Paraje * that´s us :-)
Hotel los Bérchules
More Berchules links

Alquería de Morayma

El Cielo de Cañar

Apartments Casa Mezcua

Casa Ana
B&B Sierra y Mar

Apartamentos El Huerto de Lobras

Casa Rural Las Chimeneas

Hotel Taray

Pensión Moreno

Hotel La Fragua

El Rincón de Yégen

Non-official directories in which you do not get lost:
- Granada province Almería province
- ....working on it ...

related key words: lodgings, camas, hotel, B&B, Andalusie, Andalusia, kamers, overnachten, hostal, pension, trektocht, wandelvakantie, hiking trekking, inn, guesthouse, accommodatie, Bed and en Breakfast, alojamiento

29 March 2009

XIV Trade fair ´Hecho en la Alpujarra´

From the 9th to the 13th of April, the trade fair ´Made in the Alpujarra´ is organized for the fourteenth time in Órgiva. This Feria del Turismo, Artesanía y Alimentación ´Hecho en la Alpujarra´, is a an exhibiticion of tourism, crafts and local products that can be visited on four consecutive days from 11.00 to 21.00 hours.

27 March 2009

Photo-journey Mieke Verkennis

Here are some inspiring photographs taken by Mieke Verkennis who stayed at ´El Paraje´ during the third week of March 2009. We want to thank her for allowing us to make an Alpujarras selection from her Picasa Andalusie album.
Use the arrow at the bottom right to go to the next photograph!!

20 March 2009

Welcoming spring in the Alpujarras

Today it is just a perfect day to welcome spring. It is sunny, the sky is blue and the temperature is just right to enjoy the outdoors. In the Alpujarras, the changing of the seasons can be experienced in many different ways. A few of our guests went down the GR7 to Cádiar and were pleasantly surprised about the different flowers they could photograph near the river Guadalfeo. Other guests followed the river Trevélez and marvelled at the amount of water coming down. The snow level is at the moment at about a 2,000 metres height. Walking through the snow can at some places be exhausting, but also worth the effort. It allows you to actually see the snow melting and to enjoy the sight of icicles. At the moment an enormous amount of meltwater is running through the Acequia de Mecina and there are quite a number of waterfalls to be seen. Our walk ´Acequia de Mecina´ is therefore our special recommendation for this first spring weekend.
Río Trevélez valley as seen from the bridge on the first spring day of 2009 - foto: casa rural El Paraje
related keywords: el tiempo, het weer, le temps, das wetter

16 March 2009

Legend of the ´Fuente de las Carmelas´ lives on

The last couple of months, a number of fountains in Bérchules and Alcútar have been done up. The ´Fuente de las Carmelas´, the drinking fountain at the entrance of Bérchules, looks very nice again. The water of this fountain is renowned for its excellent quality and it is therefor quite appropiate that the fountain has been renovated in such an attractive way. It has new ornamental tiles, but the old legend lives on. The story goes that there was once a Carmelite priest who found himself a fiancée after having drunk from this fountain. He got married and left the village, but this fountain therefor got the name ´Fuente de las Carmelas´. This is what the text on the tiles says:

No digas nunca de este agua no beberé, pues esta fuente que aquí ves

Es fuente de la virtud y tiene tal magnitud que a beber su agua invita,

lo confirmó un "Carmelita" que cura fue desta Iglesia,

y soltero que la beba con intención de casarse,

¡no falla pues al instante... Novia tiene! ¡ya lo ves!

15 March 2009

White asphodels along the A-4130

There are three different ways to drive from ´El Paraje´ to Órgiva. One of the possibilities is to continue on the A-4130 passing Almegíjar. This is the most winding and rural routes. We like it because of its scenery, the views of the Taha valley and the roadside flora. In early spring one of the flowers to enjoy while taking this route, is the ´Asphodelus albus´. According to some taxonomists this flowering plant is a member of the Asphodelaceae. Others do not recognize the Asphodelacea as a family and assert that it is a member of the Lily family. It is called ´white asphodel´ in English, ´asfodelo´ in Spanish and ´witte affodil´ in Dutch. In the description of this flower in Wikipedia, it says that flowers are produced between April and June, but in this part of Spain they flower mid-March. There are hundreds to be seen during this time of the year on both sides of the road from Almegíjar towards the A-348. On the side of this road, between Torvizcón and Órgiva, it can be found as well.

Asphodelus albus or white asphodel along the A-4310 - foto: Mieke Verkennis

13 March 2009

Sendero Local ´Molino Altero´ de Trevélez

The ´camino al molino altero´ is number four of the nineteen walks in the guide ´Senderos Locales de la Alpujarra´ (see also our post of 18-02-2009). More information and the GPS track of this Sendero Local ´Molino Altero´ can be found on the website of Alpujarra Turística of the Mancomunidad. It is a short stroll of two kilometres to the river, which could be a nice walk to do with children. The starting point where you find an information panel on the route, is at the square of the Barrio Medio. On here it says that you leave the village next to the ´polideportivo´ or sports ground. To get there – this is not explained - you go right to pass the town hall and the bar-restaurant of La Fragua. Continue straight on into Calle Posada, passing hotel La Fragua II. At the end of this street you bear left to find the first wooden waypost. From this point on you can follow the green-and-white waymarks to the river where you see what is left of a flour mill. On the website of the ADR Alpujarra it is explained that after a thunderstorm in the sixties of the twentieth century, the Molino altero got almost completely buried by all the water and stones that came down from the Barranco Peñabón. From this point we see to the right the Cerro de Peñabón, one of the many attractive aspects of this pleasant short walk. You return to the village on a broad track that leads you back to the church square. You need to be aware that the starting point and the returning point are not the same. If you want to make this walk longer, you could follow the Camino del Horcajo at the left bank of the Río Trevélez and continue on the small path parallel to the river.

Ruins of the Molino Altero and to the right the Cerro de Penabón - foto: casa rural El Paraje

Related article:
- Senderos locals de Trevélez

12 March 2009

Publication ´El Sabor de la Alpujarra´

The Asociación para la Promoción Económica y el Desarrollo Rural de la Alpujarra-Sierra Nevada (ADR Alpujarra-Sierra Nevada) published ´El Sabor de la Alpujarra´, a beautiful book on the tastes and flavours of this region. There are chapters on the local wines, olive oil, meats, cured ham, cheeses, honey, bread, sweets and pastries. It has beautiful pictures, traditional recipes, useful addresses and a lot of information on all the tasty products from the Alpujarrra. Free copies can be obtained at the tourist information centre in Orgiva. There is also an online version available. Once the whole document has been loaded you can turn the pages by clicking at one of the corners. An apiarist collects honey from hives near Cortijo de las Minas above Bérchules at a height of 2,000 metres in the national park - foto: casa rural El Paraje

8 March 2009

Fallen wayposts on GR142 cause confusión

Yesterday guests got lost while walking the GR142 from Cádiar to Lobras. As we don´t like the idea that more people need to retrace their steps in the future, we decided to check out whether there are any changes. We found out that a few wooden wayposts have fallen on this stretch, probably as a result of the bad weather we had this winter. Unfortunately this has happened at a point which already caused difficulties in the past. Halfway on the ridge of the Loma Callón - 2,13 kilometres from Alquería de Morayma -, you need to bear right for about sixteen metres, to immediately climb up a field of almonds and figs to continue in the same south-west direction following the ridge. A red-and-white cross on a stone gives the impression that you should not enter this orchard, but what it indicates is that you need to ignore the track to the right towards a ochre-coloured new house. You also need to ignore the track to the left, although there is no red-and-white cross here. After having entered the field you see a red-and-white paint mark on a fig tree about ten trees further as counted from the edge. One of the attractive aspects of walking the GR142 is walking through orchards and vineyards. But unfortunately this has also proved to be a little bit confusing as there are sometimes no clear paths, especially after fields have been ploughed.
Walking through orchards on the GR142 from Cádiar to Lobras with red-and-white paint marks on the fig trees - foto: casa rural El Paraje

1 March 2009

Ruined mill below Fondales

This year there is a lot more water to be seen and heard everywhere compared to previous years. Walking through the Taha valley with guests today, we enjoyed the sight and the sound of the torrent below. In the past, the water of the Trevélez river powered numerous mills of which the ruins can still be seen. According to Turgranada, this old flour mill below Fondales was considered in its time one of the most representative works of the medieval architecture of the Alpujarra. But unlike the mill next to the Panjuila bridge which is on the list of ´BIC: Bienes de Interés Cultural´, this one is not officially part of the local heritage. On the website of the ADR Alpujarra it is explained that this mill the ´molino de fondales´ was built in the XVIII or XIX century.
Old Arab mill below Fondales - foto: casa rural El Paraje

25 February 2009

Video Berchules

We found this artistic video taken in and around Bérchules on a quiet February morning 2009. It is made by Alvaro Bernal Alejandre and can be found on Vimeo. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but only artists are able to reproduce their experience for others to relive.

The music is of Vicente Amigo of his cd Vivencias Imaginadas.

24 February 2009

Bike route Andalucia - Sierra Nevada

The ´Bike route planner for Europe´ or Fietsroute planner voor Europa´ is a Dutch initiative, helping long distance cyclists planning their bike holidays in Europe. When planning a trip through Andalusia, circling the Sierra Nevada is an obvious challenge. Raul Gonzalez suggests a route leading from Granada along the north side of the Sierra Nevada, passing Guadix and climbing up the Puerto de la Ragua (2000m) to arrive at the southern slopes of the Sierra Nevada. The scenic route goes then westwards, calling in on the whitewashed villages of the Alpujarras.
About two kilometres passed Bérchules, on the A-4130 at 23 km, the route passes the entrance of ´El Paraje´. From here it is fifteen kilometres to reach Trevélez, probably through one of the most beautiful parts of the Alpujarras.
A sunny February 24th on the A-4130 cycling from ´El Paraje´ to Trevelez, with the Mulhacén in the background - foto: casa rural El Paraje.
Related links:
- mountain bike road cycling holidays with South Side Cycling in Bérchules

related keywords: ciclismo, bici de montaña, BTT, fietsen, wielrennen cycling, cyclisme, radfahren