A cultural connection of walkers to landscapes and local life.
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8 Days - 7 Nights
Connect with culture, history, community and yourself.
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per person, double occupancy
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Andalucia is the best-known of all Spain’s provinces, and conjures up images which for many represent Spain itself: whitewashed villages, flamenco dancers, elegant horses and hams dangling from ceilings. On the Costa del Sol these things might be laid on for the tourists, but in the Sierra de Aracena, they are simply a part of life. It’s a place where remarkably few tourists tread, a place where you will find Andalucia at its colourful, and delicious best.
The walking on this trip is of a medium grade, some days are fairly long though elevation gains are rarely particularly dramatic or steep. The landscapes of rolling hills, sometimes thickly forested with chestnuts, other times covered with the thinner vegetation of the dehesa, cork and Holm oaks scattered across meadows grazed by free-range Iberico pigs. Relax at the end of each day with a glass of wine and plate of olives in the square of a whitewashed village and watch the world go by.
White-washed villages, chestnut forests and ibérico pigs roaming free among cork oaks. Enjoy the peace of rural Spain and a slower pace of life on this self guided walk through the lovely but little visited Sierra de Aracena. High quality small hotels, forested mountains and simply delicious food are waiting for you.
We provide you with the maps, gps and walking notes for the route as well as detailed local information to help you make the most of your time here. In addition, you sit down with your hosts on the first day to go over everything - they are also on hand in case of need throughout your trip.
Western Andalucia Highlights
We offer a unique opportunity to explore Seville and the villages of Western Andalucia on foot. This gives you an up close look at life there and the chance to interact with the locals more genuinely.
A MORE FULL EXPERIENCE
The chance to hike and explore during the day and evening in different locations allows you to really get to know a place. That's why we book your accommodations throughout the countryside, and transfer your luggage for you.
BETTER WALKS, BETTER LIFE
Combine walking and traveling in a rich historical and cultural landscape. Active exploration makes the adventure uniquely yours.
Level of Activity
This is a walking holiday with reasonably strenuous hikes over several consecutive days. Daily distances range from 11-19km (7-12 miles). Although the Aracena Hills give the impression of being rolling and gentle, there are in fact some steep ascents and descents.
Having said this, altitudes are low, conditions underfoot are excellent and the weather is generally benign. The walking is relaxed as you enjoy the long, warm days of Andalucia.
You should, of course, be "walking fit' to the get the most out of this trip. Your local host is only ever a phone call away, if any day's walk becomes too much.
As an inn to inn walking adventure, your luggage will be taken for you to each day's final destination.
Level of Comfort
The inns and hotels we use on this trip are small, charming and locally owned. For the first two nights and the last, you stay in a 4-star hotel in a converted convent in the heart of Aracena.
In Cortelazor, stay in a village house which has been converted to an inn and is furnished with the most wonderfully eclectic art deco furniture and fittings. Expect homely, informal welcome. Your next stay is in a lovely converted watermill on the edge of a busting village.
The last hotel is a small, comfortable but fairly simple hotel in the heart of the village of Alájar run by an Anglo-Spanish couple. Charming hosts, delicious food, and a swimming pool are a unique combination in the area.
July and August tend to be too hot for comfortable walking, and December and January too rainy. Apart from those months, this holiday is enjoyable year round.
Level of Culture
The Aracena hills are a genuinely untouched corner of Andalucia. It's an area so little known that you see a way of life long forgotten elsewhere. You can expect total peace and quiet in small rural villages with older residents, in particular, sitting out in the evening watching the world go by-- aided by the seemingly endless sweeping of doorsteps. In some of the villages you can still see women come out to wash clothes in the fountain together.
The Aracena and Picos de Aroche Natural Park is one of the best preserved mountain areas in Andalucia, and contains some of the best examples of Mediterranean and chestnut forests. Although cork production is gradually dying out as screw caps gain popularity, the tell-tale stripped bark of cork oaks can still be seen.
Seville is a remarkable city, colorfully beautiful and always lively. Flamenco dresses, fans, horses, lace shawls, castanets, bulls... it's all here. Seville is a place where traditions are maintained with passion.
Please note that the details of this itinerary are subject to change. Many of the planned activities are organized according to availability, events or seasonal dates, appropriate weather conditions or the discretion of our guides. We make every effort to provide the experience described in the itinerary with the understanding that some things may change.
Arrive in Seville and settle in to your charming hotel set in a the historic part of the city.
Accommodation: Hotel Amadeus
Arriving at a time to suit you, make your own way to your hotel in the heart of the Barrio Santa Cruz.
Located in our favorite part of the historical area of Seville, it is a five to ten minute walk to the cathedral (depending how much fun you're having!) which means that it retains its wonderful local flavour and tourists don't outnumber the locals.
Depending on your arrival time, you might like to head straight out to discover some of the wonderful little tapas bars in the streets which surround your hotel.
Spend the day discovering Seville on foot, first with your private guide to show you around 'hidden' Seville and then independently.
Meals included: Breakfast, Tapas Lunch
Accommodation: Hotel Amadeus
Walking is the way to get around the center of the city. The picturesque Barrio Santa Cruz, the cathedral and the Alcazar are all within minutes of each other.
Your private guide comes to find you at your hotel this morning. Head out to discover all that Seville has to offer as you take a stroll around the Historic Quarter. You will pass the Alcazar, the complex of royal palaces begun by the Moors and finished off by the Christians.
Finish your walk with a couple of tapas in the style of the locals, accompanied by Seville's very own beer, Cruz Campo, or a chilled glass of sherry. This afternoon is yours to explore at your own pace, perhaps browsing the wonderful shops of Calle Sierpe or visiting the Alcazar gardens.
Explore Seville's enormous Cathedral to see the tomb of Christopher Columbus. You can walk up the giralda for views across the entire city. The climb is by spiral ramp rather than stairway so it is surprisingly easy to get to the top. The ramp is there so that the muezzin, in the days when the cathedral was a mosque, could ride his horse to the top of the minaret to perform the call to prayer. Climbing a staircase five times a day would have been a lot to ask.
The Arabic culture is strongest here in the south of Spain. About 2000 Spanish words beginning with "Al' derive from Arabic (e.g. Alcazar - castle) You will see thousands of clues to Seville's Islamic past, most beautifully in the tiles, ceilings and gardens of the Alcazar.
Most tour groups visit the city by bus in the early morning and move to the Alcazar for opening at 10am, the arrive at the Cathedral around midday. Things quiet down considerably in the afternoon, so you might like to have a relaxed morning and take in the cultural sites this afternoon.
Transfer into the heart of the Aracena hills from Seville, where you meet your host for an introduction to the region.
Meals included: Breakfast
Accommodation: Convento de Aracena
Your driver collects you from your hotel in Seville at a time to suit you. The drive to the pretty town of Aracena takes approximately 1.5 hours.
This afternoon your local host Ángel, comes to see you and sit down to discuss your route for the week, handing over detailed O.S. maps as well as a GPS. Between these and our detailed walking notes, you should find navigation on your walks quite comfortable. In any case, local help is only a phone call away.
From your hotel, head out on a short walking tour of Aracena, from its Moorish castle to the town's famous cave system, Gruta de las Maravillas, which you might like to visit.
Enjoy a refreshing dip before dinner, which is at leisure. Although a fairly small town, Aracena has a fantastic selection of restaurants, and your hosts will be pleased to offer you their recommendations.
Leaving your bags to catch their taxi, set off walking on a path into the high sierra and beautiful village of Cortelazor.
Walk Distance: 12.5km
(300m ascent/320m descent)
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: La Flamenca Inn
Pack your bags today, they will be brought on to your next hotel for you. Walking with just a daypack and your picnic lunch, you set off from Aracena towards the pretty village of Cortelazor.
The walk undulates through beautiful chestnut woods before it leads you onto a ridge with wide views across the natural park. The landscape of dehesa is unique to this part of the world. The dehesa has traditionally been farmed in a sustainable and low impact way, from the tree tips to the earth beneath.
Chestnuts and walnuts are collected by hand for humans, while acorns feed the iberian pigs who graze the forest floor. The bark of the cork oak is harvested and wild mushrooms are gathered. You may see the forest floors roughly ploughed to encourage growth of roots, flowers and mushrooms.
The last stretch is particularly lovely cobbled trail leading into the charming village of Cortelazor, where you stay in a guest house with a remarkable array of art deco furniture. Dinner tonight is taken at Lola's kitchen table.
Later you could stroll around to the village square for an evening drink,the sound of locals chatting and children playing fill the air.
Cross hills, streams and rich chestnut forests to the village of Valdelarco before following a lovely flat path along a river to your next stop.
Walk Distance: 15km
(550m ascent/500m descent)
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch
Accommodation: Molinos de Fuenteheridos
Leave Cortelazor for a beautifully varied, at times challenging, day of walking. The first section of the day is on a little used trail down to the river and steeply back up again to the higher hills across the valley. This is the hardest navigation of the week and the point where you are most likely to rely on your GPS. It is also some of the prettiest walking, and more remote feeling. Carrying a picnic lunch means that you can take you time and stop in the shade whenever the mood takes you.
Alternatively, push on to the village of Valdelarco for a refreshing drink and a picnic in the village square. From Valdelarco an old cobbled path leads you through woodland alongside a stream to your charming hotel just outside the village of Fuenteheridos. Stay tonight in a converted water mill, with a pool if the weather's warm. Dinner tonight is in a nearby village where you can enjoy one of the most innovative dining experiences in the region.
Today you cross to the south side of the sierra into the chestnut forests with views all the way to Portugal.
Walk Distance: 19km
(480m ascent/480m descent)
Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner
Accommodation: Finca la Fronda
Today's walk may be the highlight of the week in terms of scenery-- a beautiful traverse of the Sierra de Aracena passing through some of its prettiest villages. By mid-morning, you will pass Galaroza, a charming whitewashed town with a 15th century hermitage high on the hill overlooking the winding cobbled streets. You could stop for lunch at the small village of Castaño de Robledo. A long lunch stop means you can enjoy the best of the afternoon light as you go over the sierra.
In the afternoon the picturesque path takes you along streams, through chestnut forests and over the ridge to the south side of the Sierra. You might like to take a detour to the top of Peña Arias Montano, for fantastic views all the way to Portugal.
Continue down to the small but lively village of Alájar where you spend the next two nights. Your friendly inn is also home to your hosts from the beginning of the trip.
Enjoy a beautiful walk this morning to lead you to a fantastic lunch in a pretty village.
Walk Distance: 11km
(400m ascent/400m descent)
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch
Accommodation: Finca la Fronda
Walk downhill into the village of Alájar before leading across the countryside to the hamlet of El Calabacino, once abandoned but now reclaimed by a hippy community who have breathed new life into the old stones. The trail leads to Linares, one of the most picturesque villages in the area. The streets are beautifully decorated with round river stones and the village fountain is sometimes still used for washing clothes and a chat.
It's also home to a rather lovely little restaurant which showcases local vegetable garden produce alongside the best of the acorn-fed jamon. To celebrate the end of your walk, we include lunch here today at this extremely welcoming spot.
After lunch you can either treat yourself to a session in the village's hammam (bathhouse) or push on uphill the last 3km to your hotel for an afternoon by the pool with a good book.
Complete your circuit as you walk through cork forests back to the town of Aracena where you started the week.
Walk Distance: 10km
(400m ascent/450m descent)
Meals included: Breakfast
Set off walking back to the town of Aracena. For the first 3km or so you will retrace your steps as far as the village of Linares, before striking out on new paths. Being a relatively relaxed day of walking, you can choose to set off early to make it to Aracena in time for lunch, or instead, relax by the pool in the morning before grabbing a bite to eat in Linares and then finishing your circuit in the afternoon. The timing is entirely up to you!
Transfer out to Seville after your walk to either check-in for your return journey home or for an extended stay in the city.
People Love Traveling
with Walking Connection
"“This truly was the trip of a lifetime as we were educated about the history of these fabulous mountains, their flora, fauna, people, and treasurers. Thank you so for creating the smooth sailing of this experience!"
- Denise and Frank D.
"I now know I can do anything!"
- Connie G.
"Its the places you go and the people I meet, that's why I have traveled with you for the last 30 years." - Larry D., Arizona
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