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

31 January 2011

Sendero Local Pedro Antonio de Alarcón in Torvizcón

This year we had a large number of sunny days with nice temperatures in January, which means that in the lower parts of the Alpujarra the almond trees started to blossom relatively early. To enjoy this spectacle we decided to check the Sendero Local ´Pedro Antonio de Alarcón´. This is a linear walk of 8,3 kilometres that connects Torvizcón with the Venta del Chaparro, close to Haza de Lino. The height difference between the village and the ridge road - the GR 5204 - with its spectacular views is about 700 metres. The route is named after the Spanish author Pedro Antonio de Alarcón, who travelled through the region on mule back in the spring of 1872. In his travel book ´La Alpujarra´, he described the steep climb up from Torvizcón as one of the most demanding stages. As we felt like enjoying the almond blossom in a leisurely way, we got ourselves dropped off at the highest point in order to be able to walk down to Torvizcón. We had downloaded the GPS track from the website of Alpujarra Turística and found out that this is essential to find the route. There are wooden marker posts, but the waymarking is done in one direction only, starting in Torvizcón. There are also a number of cairns, but not enough to find the small paths that are often a bit hidden between the vegetation. Sometimes you need to cross vineyards, almond and fig orchards and when they are recently ploughed you tend to stay on the dirt tracks instead of entering the fields. These are the things that make the route really attractive though. It feels as if you enter into the heart of the Sierra de Contraviesa. In all directions we saw thousands and thousands of almond trees in full blossom and got completely submerged into this show for hours with only peace and quiet around us. The nice thing about walking down is that we could also contemplate the snowcapped Sierra Nevada in front of us all the time.

Related articles:
- Publication ´Senderos Locales de la Alpujarra´
- Centro Temático del Vino Alpujárride in Torvizcón
- Almond blossom routes in February 2009

Related links:
- The Almond Blossom Appreciation Society, an article on this book written by Chris Stewart from his website Online El Valero

Related key words: almendros en flor, amandelbloesem, wandelen, wandelingen, hiking, Alpujarras, B&B, hotel

23 January 2011

Mountain biking in the Alpujarras Sierra Nevada

Michel and Geertje from the Netherlands stayed at our B&B Casa Rural El Paraje early September 2010.
They hired our mountain bikes for one day to explore the valley of the Río de Bérchules. They sent us a few photographs and we though it to would be nice to use this occasion to dedicate an article to the mountain biking possibilities of the Alpujarras and Sierra Nevada.
This photograph was taken close to the origin of the Río Chico which joins with the Río Grande at the Junta de los Ríos from where it is called Río de Bérchules.
There are lots of dirt tracks to use, but as the photo indicates the views need to be earned! Michel and Geertje were fit enough to go all the way to Mecina Bombarón using a small country road to get back to Bérchules and El Paraje.
There are also quite a number of single track possibilities. None of these are waymarked as biking routes.
As we are mountain-bikers and road-bikers, we can show you the nicest trails in the area.

Related articles:
- Alpujarras outdoors activities links list

Related links:

- online brochure of the transnevada trail

2 January 2011

The Cork Oak forest of Haza del Lino

When a guest asks for a suggestion for a nice drive to the coast, we always mention the route that passes Cádiar and then follows the GR 5204 to Haza del Lino, from where you go down to the coast passing the tranquil villages of Polopos or Sorvilán. The vineyards and almond and fig groves of the Sierra de la Contraviesa are incredibly beautiful and the views are breathtaking in all directions. Haza del Lino is a small hamlet that breathes both the air of the coast and of the mountains. The popular Restaurante Haza del Lino is a nice place to have a drink or lunch (closed on Tuesdays). For cyclists it is a pretty tour as well (See road map and route profiles
We now also have a suggestion for a walk that starts at this crossroads and that goes up the Cerro Salchicha, with an altitude of 1,542 metres the highest peak of the Sierra de la Contraviesa. This walk of 8 kilometres is different from any of the other walks that we offer for various reasons. Firstly because on a clear day you have impressive views of the Mediterranean Sea and secondly because it passes for a large part through a unique Cork Oak forest. The Quercus suber is a type of tree that you can be found in other parts of the Alpujarra, but it is the only Cork Oak forest that is preserved in the eastern part of Andalusia. The trunks of the harvested trees have an attractive rust red colour. When the sun shines on them and you see many of these stripped cork oaks you get the feeling of walking through a fairytail wood. The ´alcornocal´ of  Haza del Lino is the highest Cork Oak forest of Spain and possible of the world.
When you do not feel like climbing the 320 metres to get to the top of the Monte Salchicha you can wander around through this Cork Oak forest following the tracks that you see on our map. They are all broad, easy to find and follow tracks. We turned right at waypoint 03, altough the ´classical routes´ go left at this point. We went down the fire breaks between waypoints 07 and 09, which was the least attractive part of the walk. (here our GPS track) If you do not want to descend on the broad, steep fire lanes you can go back to waypoint 06 and continue straight on from there.
Haza del Lino also has a singular chestnut tree (perimeter of more than 9 metres at the base) which can be found along the road to Órgiva, on our map halfway between waypoints 01 and 02 (see detailed description of the Castaño de Haza del Lino).

Related articles:
- Centro Temático del Vino Alpujárride in Torvizcón

Related links:
- Alpujarras road map
- Road cycling with Vamos Cycling in Cádiar

Related key words: alcornoque, kurkeik, kurkeikenbos, Alpujarras, Sierra Nevada, wandelen, wandelingen, trektocht, standplaats vakantie, hiking, trekking, Berchules, B&B, hotel, wanderungen, wandelvakanties