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Extend your time in Andalucía with the keys to your own car, a wonderful hotel overlooking the ocean and our favourite walks and activities on the Cabo de Gata, mainland Europe's only desert landscape. From rural inn to rural inn, from one great Moorish capital to another, from the countryside to the city to the coast, this is a part walking, part self-drive trip which cuts a varied path across a region we love to share.
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For this itinerary we assume you'll fly to Seville and catch the high speed train to Córdoba this morning, arriving around midday. Other options include starting in Madrid or Barcelona. Córdoba was a site of great importance during the Roman Empire. However, it is for its Moorish heritage that the city is best known, specifically the Mezquita. Today you'll explore this medieval marvel with your guide; the forest of red and white arches and low ceilings of the prayer hall contrasting with the elevated marble and gold of the cathedral.
It's an hour private transfer to Zuheros, one of the most picturesque white villages in Andalucía, perched on a rocky outcrop below the steep sides of the Bailón River canyon. After a welcome briefing with our local partner, your first hike serves as a wonderful introduction to the Sierras Subbéticas, crossing the karstic limestone landscape and open valleys, with Griffon vultures overhead and views across olive groves stretching out to the far horizon.
Your path today crosses the dry river bed five times, before meeting a second canyon, and goes on to circle the base of the Bramadero hill which dominates the landscape here. On the agenda today are orange-hued limestone caves, atmospheric lichen-covered holm oak woods and gracefully ageing farmhouse ruins. Sheepbells tinkle in the open valleys, vultures circle up ahead and, if you're here in March, the early spring flowers and almond blossoms are something special.
Start amid limestone rocks and finish in the olive groves as you reach your next rural guesthouse. En route, we've found the perfect picnic spot, with panoramic views of La Tiñosa - the highest peak in the Córdoba province - and the spectacular white town of Priego perched on a plateau. End the day at a converted farmhouse run by Brits Tim and Claire. The welcome is warm, the food exceptional, the wine local, the beer cold and the atmosphere all very relaxed.
After a leisurely breakfast, you can either put your boots on again, rest up by the pool or do some combination of these. The longer walk leads through the olive groves towards a small river valley and on to the Cerrajón olive mill, before cutting back past pine trees and the river. The shorter walk goes up to a ruined Moorish watchtower - a perfect place for an afternoon stroll with Ruby (Tim and Claire's dog) and a picnic with a view. Or there's the pool.
Today begins in pretty Priego de Córdoba, the centre of the world's best olive oil producing region. A comfortable walk takes you past the castle, through the whitewashed streets bedecked in flowers, and out onto the 'balcony', with panoramic views across the hills. Jump back into your private car to be dropped off at the start of your walk, which leads through the olive groves of the Sierra del Albayate, with views across the hills and back to Priego. Your next hosts Raul and Davinia are absolutely lovely and devotees of organic ingredients and the Slow Food philosophy.
Walk clear through the olive groves and stands of holm oaks to a waterfall you'll likely have to yourself. There are remnants of a bronze age settlement early on, and more substantial ruins of a pre-Roman village up high on a hill. Below this vantage point is Almedinilla, spread out in the late afternoon light, the hills of the Sierras Subbéticas rising high in the background. Walk down into the village, where a relaxing evening and tasty meal awaits.
This morning your driver takes you to the wonderfully peaceful 14th century castle-cum-fortress of Alcalá la Real, the fall of which represented a turning point in the Reconquest. You're then dropped at the pretty white village of Moclín to follow a scenic circular route through Aleppo pine woods to reach a small cave with Neolithic cave paintings, before the path winds towards some civil war installations and out along the river. End in Granada, where our Holiday Guide will point you in the direction of our favourite restaurants.
Having started in the first true capital of Andalucía, you end in its last. Your guide will piece together the story of the Alhambra's rise, fall and rebirth as the citadel passed between the hands of Moors, Christians, Napoleonic troops and the marginalised edges of Granada's society. You'll have time to explore the labyrinthine streets of the Albaicín under your own steam. The old Moorish Quarter has some of the best viewpoints of the city. Finish in style with tickets to what we think is the city's best flamenco show.
Now for a change of scenery, a change of pace. Collect your hire car from Granada train station and drive south to Cabo de Gata, mainland Europe's only desert habitat. Settle into your small hotel overlooking the clear blue waters of the Mediterranean sea. Ahead you have three nights which can be dedicated to relaxing, more walking or activities.
With many fantastic walks from 4km strolls to 18km hikes along the coast, you can either decide to be active or relax on the lovely beaches of the Cabo de Gata. Or you can also arrange some kayaking or horse riding locally, using our local information and contacts.
Set off early today to avoid the heat of the midday sun as you hike up to the top of one of the extinct volcanoes nearby. The views from the top are spectacular. Back down at sea level you might like to visit the botanical gardens at Rodalquilar. This village is a strange combination of abandoned mining village and thriving small community. The ghost town part of the village is largely fenced off with houses crumbling to dust.
Make your way to Almeria airport today, dropping off the car ahead of your return international flight. Don't forget we can discuss a tailored version of this trip for you if you'd like to keep on exploring - just ask for ideas or share your own.
Note: This is just an itinerary idea and we'll therefore tailor everything to you.
As a predominantly Inn to Inn holiday, there is obviously a very clear emphasis on walking throughout. So a sturdy pair of legs, and walking boots, is a must. Having said that, the peace and quiet, the fresh air, regular sun and the distant horizons make this an eminently relaxing region through which to walk. You'll be walking on average around 15km a day, with the longest topping out at 22km. We include the option of a rest day in the middle, with routes of 11km and 6km out into the surrounding countryside should you prefer to keep walking. Down on the coast you have more flexibility as to whether you want to walk, put your feet up or enjoy some kayaking or horse riding.
For each walk we provide detailed walking notes and GPS maps, so you needn't worry about the navigation. As you move between inns your luggage hitches a ride ahead of you and in the cities you'll have the benefit of our Holiday Guide to steer you towards our favourite sights and restaurants.
We would love to discuss this holiday with you. For the Inn to Inn walk, we can't really deviate from the fundamental route without spoiling the trip. However it can be tailored to suit you in certain ways, for example adding in time pre-walk in Seville would combine the three great Moorish cities into one unique trip. As a whole, it is possible to reduce the length of the trip to 11 or 12 days, should you need to it. It's best to ask us about your options.
This holiday works best from October to the first week of January and from March to the end of May. The summer is simply too hot, whilst the rural guesthouses close for much of January and during February. Please note: services on this trip are always private. Because this walk is through remote areas and is exclusive to Pura Aventura, we feel that overlapping departures risk detracting from your experience. We limit departures to a maximum of one per day.
The holiday price is a realistic guideline per person (rather than a 'from' price), based on two people sharing a room. It includes all breakfasts, most lunches, some dinners, train tickets from Seville and private/luggage transfers throughout. It also includes private guiding in Córdoba and Granada as described, with entrances to the Mezquita and Alhambra, olive oil tasting, flamenco tickets, detailed walking notes, maps/GPS device and local information. This extended version also includes car hire, accommodation, breakfasts and walking notes in the Cabo de Gata.
International flights are quoted separately for this holiday. Best flight routing is to fly into Seville (SVQ) and out of Almeria (LEI). Málaga, Madrid and Barcelona are among other start or end points making use of the high speed Ave train network.
Your money is 100% protected by ABTOT (membership number 5331).
One of the absolute joys of this trip is the welcome you are extended throughout by our local partners, most of whom directly inputted into the design of the itinerary.
Carlos and Antonio are your hosts in Zuheros, right in the heart of the village, with many rooms enjoying views across the olive groves. Tim and Claire are up next, a British couple who turned a ruined farmhouse into one of our favourite B&Bs. The third rural hotel is owned by Raul and Davinia, an enterprising young couple dedicated to the Slow Food movement. What they are able to do with the array of organic local ingredients is something truly special. The guesthouse is a grand old inn with agricultural artifacts from days gone by.
For more details, please get in touch to request a detailed PDF itinerary.
In Córdoba and Granada we place a premium on small boutique hotels with local character, great hosting and strategic location, working only with a small stable of our favourites for each.
The industrialisation of northern cities and the rapid development of tourism along the Costa del Sol has, in many respects, precipitated something of an exodus from the countryside from the younger generations. One happy coincidence from this trip, and the way that we work, is that your visit contributes towards an economy that spreads income from the cities and coast to more rural areas. Walking with curiosity also introduces you to many of the more traditional ways of life that endure here; olives harvested by hand, flocks of goats and sheep, dairy farmers bumping down gravel tracks. This gives the countryside a human aspect and an appreciation of the challenges they face, extending far beyond what you'll see if you just stick to the cities.
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