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

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