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Andalucia

  • 8 Night Route

    Price From: £900
  • 7 Night Route

    Price From: £725
  • 6 Night Route

    Price From: £675
  • 5 Night Route

    Price From: £620

White villages of the Ronda Mountains

Back to Routes
Zahara

Zahara

Last look back at Zahara

Last look back at Zahara

The pass

The pass

At the water hole

At the water hole

The lake at dusk

The lake at dusk

Climbing up to Grazalema

Climbing up to Grazalema

Olive orchards below Zahara

Olive orchards below Zahara

The road to Montejaque

The road to Montejaque

A picnic with a view

A picnic with a view

Ronda's bullring

Ronda's bullring

Ronda street

Ronda street

Ronda

Ronda

Price: £900
Nights: 8
Grade:
Walk: 3-5 hr/day
Max. party size: 10

Travellers Reviews

Wonderful holiday...

The walk from Grazalema to Montejaque will stay in my memory for ever!!

Tracey Collins, London, Oct '16

We flat-out loved the walking, village to village and the circuits.

Our favorite day, in scenic terms, was Grazalema to Benaocaz. We have had the pleasure of arranging walking trips on our own, via [other companies], and now with you. The speed, precision, utility, and warmth of your communications are clearly the best we have experienced.

John Rosenberg, Lexington, Oct '16

I've been on a few walking holidays and this was among the best for a number of reasons.

We had a large group with mixed levels of fitness and experience, yet found the walk very manageable (not that it was without its strenuous bits). The villages and hotels were all really exceptional - lovely places at which to arrive after a long day of walking. The terrain was also pretty varied from day to day, which was a positive. Beyond the scenery and walking, which is always tops for me, I would say my next favorite thing was the character of the villages we walked to - just large enough to have amenities, but small enough to have maintained their individual character. This was evidenced by some of the local religious processions we witnessed. The least favorite thing is tricky as our entire group really loved the trip, but if pressed I would say arriving at the revelation that G&T's are far better in Southern Spain than in England (or at least the pours are far better). I'm left feeling disappointed in the frugal G&T's served here in London! Obviously, there was very little if anything we did not thoroughly enjoy.

Michael Murphy, London, April '16

More independent feedback
About the Route

At a glance

Andalucia 8-night option (6 days walking plus Ronda sightseeing day). The full route with two nights in each village including Benaojan upgrade. Extra nights can be added in any village.

How much walking?

Full days: 11-19km per day, 3-5 hrs walking. A medium length walk, though Spanish eating habits (supper not before 9pm) mean you can take as long as you need for each day’s walk.
Using shortening options: None, except to ride with the luggage

Max. Grade:

The 'pueblos blancos' of the Ronda

A lovely walk in the still unspoilt mountains to the west of Ronda, culminating in two nights in the Moorish cliff-top bastion. The ‘pueblos blancos’ or white villages contain some of Spain’s most distinctive ‘popular’ architecture. Narrow streets of whitewashed houses, most of them with wrought iron ‘rejas’, drop steeply down the hillsides. Your stays in these villages, perched on the slopes for defence, are interspersed with glorious hillside walking through the dramatic limestone scenery of the Grazalema National Park. Ibex, eagles and griffon vultures are there for the spotting. Your walk will take you over wild mountainsides and along lush river valleys to Ronda, scene of some of the last battles of the Reconquista. Your final day is free for you to explore this fascinating town.

Walked by On Foot staff: Simon, Debbie, Mary and Emma

REVIEWS: For independent walker reviews submitted to the Association of Independent Tour Operators visit Aito.com.

Route Highlights

  • The rugged hills of the Grazalema National Park
  • White Villages with traditional “Hostales”
  • Flower meadows and mountain pastures
  • Ibex, deer and griffon vultures
  • The Moorish citadel of Ronda

We Recommend

Note the option to visit the Cueva (cave) de la Pileta with its extraordinary cave paintings (a walk or a short taxi ride from Benaojan). Previous walkers have happily combined this walk with a trip to Seville (easy access by bus or train) or Granada.

Eating and Drinking

At Al Lago in Zahara, where you can dine whether staying there or not, chef Stefan suggests slow roasted leg of lamb with couscous and almonds, which should be washed down with locally produced Ibarguen from Prado del Rey with Syrah and Tempranillo. Or seared duck breast with fig compote, Pedro Ximinez and fresh oranges, ideally suited to a glass of Schatz Acinipo wine from Ronda. Fish: Pan sauteed Sole with lemon, capers and wine, lovely with a crisp glass of Palacio de Bornos verdejo. Paella: Lobster paella with Cortijo Aguilares ros’e from Ronda (made with pinot noir grapes)

How much Walking?

Full days: 11-19km per day, 3-5 hrs walking. A medium length walk, though Spanish eating habits (supper not before 9pm) mean you can take as long as you need for each day’s walk.
Using shortening options: None, except to ride with the luggage

Medium: Although at the top end of the grade, the relatively short daily walks brings this into the range of the average walker. Mainly gentle terrain on marked paths, with occasional scrambles. Highest point on route: 1,350m.

Average cumulative uphill stretches (CUSs) 570m per day (530m-780m).

GPX file available for handheld GPS or smartphone App for complete route.

Important note: Times given for each day are  walking times for an “average” walker and exclude stops.  “CUSs” stands for “Cumulative Uphill Stretches” and measures the aggregated ascents in each day, expressed in metres of climb.  See “Walk Grading” for more information.

When to go?

IMPORTANT: The information below relates to the 8-night walk only.  7-night and shorter versions have longer seasons.

The best months to walk: March, April, May, October

Other possible months: September

Andalucia offers ideal conditions for walking throughout the autumn, spring and winter months when many of our other routes are not available. For best walking conditions try April, when the flowers will be out and the temperatures not too high. 
Use the calendar below to see in more detail the best times to walk.

Start Dates

Recommended
Possible
Unavailable

Weather Chart

 

Temperature and rainfall chart for Grazalema (the wettest village on the route)

Itinerary

About the Route

Day 1 - Arrive in Zahara...

...one of the finest white towns, and a chance to explore its narrow streets and the old castle atop the crag (taxi between Ronda and Zahara included in holiday price).

Day 2 - Zahara Circuit

An easy but memorable first day’s walk, which takes you to the heart of the Sierra. You follow a narrow path up the beautiful valley of the Parralejo stream. There are views into gorges, home to Europe’s largest colony of Griffon Vultures.  (Medium: 14 km, 5 hrs, CUSs 520m). Alternative: Stroll around the village, visit the castle and relax!

Day 3 - Zahara to Grazalema

The day starts along the lake before a hillside track (again with wonderful views) takes you into pine woods to the Gaidovar valley and a final rise up to a viewpoint before dropping down to the area’s most famous white village  (Medium-hard: 15 km, 4½ hrs, CUSs 780m). Alternative (medium) – 3 hrs plus short taxi ride.

Day 4 - Grazalema to Benaocáz

A morning walk is best along this high ridge to an abandoned farmstead in remote isolation before dropping into Benaocáz – try lunch at one of its terrace restaurants with views towards Ubrique, before getting the afternoon bus back to Grazalema (Medium: 11 km, 4 hrs, CUSs 600m). Alternative – have a look around Grazalema and its surroundings.

Day 5 - Grazalema to Benaoján

A gentle walk in some of the most remote parts of the Grazalema park, through fantastic scenery and quiet meadowland, before arriving at Montejaque, perched on the rocky mountainside over the Guadiaro river valley. Continue a little further down into the valley, to the village of Benaoján and your next accommodation – the Molino del Santo (March to October only – Medium: 18 km, 6hrs, CUSs 530m)

Day 6 - Benaoján to Cortes

The shorter variant of the walk is by way of a riverside path which links the sleepy hamlet of Benaoján Estación with the still smaller hamlet of Jimera de Líbar Estación. The walk follows the course of the Guadiaro river and the Ronda to Algeciras railway line, recently featured in Michael Portillo’s BBC televison series Great Continental Railway Journeys. You could combine the walk with lunch in the Quercus restaurant (closed Mon) or the friendly, British-run Bar Allioli (closed Tue) before returning by train to your point of departure on the later, afternoon train. If you set out by 10:15 am you’ll have time to catch the earlier train back to Benaoján where you could lunch back at Molino del Santo. (Shorter variant Easy: 2 hrs, 7½ km, CUSs 200m)

A longer variant of the walk follows the route detailed above until just before Estación de Jimera where you cut up from the valley to the pretty village of Jimera de Líbar: it’s great to break for coffee or a cold drink in the pretty main square. From here you follow a mixture of farm tracks and narrow paths south along the Guadiaro valley to the next railway station to the south via the newly waymarked GR141 footpath, then returning to Benaoján by train. (Longer variant Medium: 5 hrs, 19 km, CUSs 650m)

Or why not visit La Cueva de la Pileta, a short there-and-back walk from Benaoján to one of the most fascinating underground excursions in Europe. (Easy: 2 hrs, 8 km, CUSs 240m)

Day 7 - Benaoján to Ronda

A varied day of drovers’ paths, with an early prospect of Ronda on its clifftop, and at the end of the day, an entry into the citadel itself. (14km, 4½ hrs, CUSs 670m)

Day 8 - Free day

Free day to explore Ronda (use Guy’s excellent “Ronda Circuit” to have a good look around the old town)

Final Day

Depart for home (or stay further nights).  Why not add a day or two in Seville, Granada or Malaga while you in the area?

Travel Information

ARRIVING BY AIR

The best ‘local’ airports are Seville and Malaga. Intercontinental flights use Madrid (overnight in Madrid advised) then train (c. 2 per day) to Ronda and taxi on to Zahara de la Sierra.

Flight information can change rapidly. Please do check for yourself directly with the airlines’ websites before finalising any booking with us and do not book your flights until we have confirmed that we have provisionally reserved accommodation for you.

Land by: Malaga 14:30; Seville 15:00 for public bus connections. Final stretch from Ronda to Zahara by taxi (included in holiday price) (total c. 2.5 – 4 hrs).

Return flight earliest: Malaga 14:00; Seville 15:00 for connections from Ronda (c. 2.5 hrs).

Land by/ earliest return flight times not applicable if using pre-booked taxi.

Flights from UK and Eire airports (to Malaga, except S=Seville):
Belfast City – Easyjet (not daily), Thomson (seasonal, not daily), Jet 2 (seasonal, not daily).
Belfast International – Aer Lingus (not daily)
Birmingham – Monarch, Ryanair (not daily), Thomson (not daily), Norwegian (not daily)
Bournemouth – Ryanair (not daily)
Bristol – Easyjet, Ryanair (not daily), Thomson (not daily)
Cardiff – Thomson (not daily)
Cork – Aer Lingus (not daily), Ryanair (not daily)
Doncaster-Sheffield – Thomson (not daily), Flybe (not daily)
Dublin – Aer Lingus, Ryanair (+S)
East Midlands – Jet 2 (not daily), Monarch (not daily), Ryanair (not daily), Thomson (not daily)
Edinburgh – Jet 2 (not daily), Ryanair (not daily), Norwegian (not daily)
Exeter – Flybe (not daily)
Gatwick – BA (+S), Easyjet (+S), Monarch (not daily), Ryanair (+S, not daily), Thomson (not daily), Norwegian
Glasgow International – Easyjet, Jet 2 (not daily), Thomson (not daily), Flybe
Glasgow Prestwick – Ryanair (not daily)
Heathrow – BA
Leeds-Bradford – Jet2 (not daily), Ryanair (not daily)
Liverpool – Easyjet, Ryanair (not daily)
London City – BA, Flybe (seasonal, not daily)
Luton Easyjet – Monarch (not daily), Thomson (not daily)
Manchester – Easyjet (not daily), Jet2, Monarch, Ryanair (not daily), Thomson (not daily)
Newcastle – Easyjet (not daily), Jet2 (not daily), Thomson (not daily), Ryanair (seasonal, not daily)
Stansted – Easyjet (not daily), Ryanair (+S)

Flights with Thomson, Jet 2 and Flybe tend to be seasonal and not daily.

See “Getting to start” below for transfer information

ARRIVING BY TRAIN

Nearest railway station:

Start: Ronda (pre-bookable taxi to first hotel in Zahara included in price)
Finish: Ronda

The train journey from Malaga to Ronda is recommended by Guy if your arrival/departure times permit. There is one direct train per day, others will require a change at Bobadilla. Contact On Foot for more details.

Typical rail journey from UK via Paris and Madrid:
London: Eurostar to Paris (N), transfer by metro to Paris Austerlitz for overnight train to Madrid-Chamartin, easy transfer to Madrid-Puerta de Atocha. Leave your luggage there, and spend a few hours in Madrid, then take the ‘Altaria’ train to Ronda. ~20 hrs excluding time in Paris and Madrid.

Ronda: Reverse of journey above, again via a few hours’ sightseeing in Madrid, ~20 hrs.

For the stretch between London and Paris/Madrid, see www.seat61.com/Spain.htm for further details (including left luggage information for Madrid, AND an important note that the sleeper train to and from Madrid does not run every night between October and March). For Madrid to Ronda use www.renfe.com which has information on the twice daily Altaria service.

 

Getting to the start of the walk

The first hotel is in the village of Zahara and the last in the historic town of Ronda. Transfer times and methods are suggested for the three ‘local’ airports below. From Madrid (main train station) allow 4 hours train journey plus local taxi. For train arrival transfers see below.

SEVILLE AIRPORT:

Outward: Taxi, bus, then taxi 3 hrs OR Pre-booked taxi transfer from Seville airport to the first hotel 2 hrs
Return: Ronda to Seville airport by bus then taxi 3 hrs OR Pre-booked taxi transfer from Ronda to Seville airport 2 hrs

MALAGA AIRPORT:

Outward: Bus then taxi allow 4 hrs OR Pre-booked taxi transfer from Malaga airport to the first hotel 2hrs. Left luggage facilities available at Malaga bus station.
Return: Ronda to Malaga airport by bus 2½ hrs OR Pre-booked taxi transfer from Ronda to Malaga airport 1½ hrs.

Transfers from Ronda train station:

Outward: Pre-bookable taxi from Ronda to Zahara (included in holiday price)
Return: Local taxi from hotel

There are left luggage facilities available at Ronda bus station should you arrive early. We recommend the pre-bookable taxi from Ronda to Zahara as buses onto Algodonales are few and far between.

For all pre-bookable taxi prices, see “Prices”.

Full transfer advice, including timetables, is provided in your Walkers’ Pack. Contact us if you would like additional pre-booking information.

Where You'll Stay

Mainly small, locally-owned pensions and hotels with a typically Spanish feel. The final hotel in Ronda is a delight but rooms are booked of accommodation ony basis as the breakfast offering is simple and there’s plenty of choice in the town. The others B&Bs and hotels are booked on a B&B basis as there’s plenty of choice for dinner in the villages where you’ll stay. Alternative accommodation available in Zahara is a renowned and popular restaurant with good rooms above. The hotel in Benaojan is also renowned for its food.

Zahara de la Sierra – Los Tadeos (B&B)

Night 1 & 2

Zahara de la Sierra – Los Tadeos (B&B)

A family-run pension with excellent restaurant and views.

Grazalema – La Mejorana: (B&B)

Night 3 & 4

Grazalema – La Mejorana: (B&B)

Small pension with delightful garden and pool.

Benaojan – Molino del Santo (Dinner, B&B)

Night 5 & 6

Benaojan – Molino del Santo (Dinner, B&B)

Comfortable family run hotel in Benaojan, known for its hospitality and excellent food. Best for 2 night stays. Open mid-March to start November.

Ronda – Hotel San Gabriel (Accommodation only)

Night 7 & 8

Ronda – Hotel San Gabriel (Accommodation only)

One of On Foot’s favourite hotels. Stay in style and comfort in former minor ‘palace’. (Accommodation only).

Prices

Price: £900 for 8 nights

Total 8 nights in double/twin room, taxi at start from Ronda to Zahara, two evening meals, all breakfasts, luggage transfers and 5 picnics. NB during Semana Santa (pre-Easter holy week) and Pedro Romero in September (both peak holiday times in Spain) there will be a supplement payable – contact On Foot for details.

All prices are per person unless otherwise indicated (e.g. for taxis), and may vary withthe season and with exchange rate fluctuations – check with On Foot for your guaranteed price.
Savings and supplements

Single Room Supplement: From £215

Lone Traveller Additional Supplement: From £115

Larger party saving (on identical itinerary) –  £60 off pp (except first two)

 

Add Ons

Alternative hotel in Zahara, superior rooms (not single) in Ronda: Contact On Foot – prices vary seasonally.

Further night(s) in Ronda hotel at end of holiday, and in other hotels en route: Contact On Foot – price varies seasonally

Taxi from airport to first hotel: Prices from: Malaga £98 (1-3), Seville £88 (1-3), £call (4-8)

Taxi from Ronda to airports: Malaga £108 (1-3), Seville £131 (1-3), £call (4-8)

Guiding by Guy Hunter-Watts (priced per group/day): Price on application

Travellers Reviews

Wonderful holiday...

The walk from Grazalema to Montejaque will stay in my memory for ever!!

Tracey Collins, London, Oct '16

We flat-out loved the walking, village to village and the circuits.

Our favorite day, in scenic terms, was Grazalema to Benaocaz. We have had the pleasure of arranging walking trips on our own, via [other companies], and now with you. The speed, precision, utility, and warmth of your communications are clearly the best we have experienced.

John Rosenberg, Lexington, Oct '16

I've been on a few walking holidays and this was among the best for a number of reasons.

We had a large group with mixed levels of fitness and experience, yet found the walk very manageable (not that it was without its strenuous bits). The villages and hotels were all really exceptional - lovely places at which to arrive after a long day of walking. The terrain was also pretty varied from day to day, which was a positive. Beyond the scenery and walking, which is always tops for me, I would say my next favorite thing was the character of the villages we walked to - just large enough to have amenities, but small enough to have maintained their individual character. This was evidenced by some of the local religious processions we witnessed. The least favorite thing is tricky as our entire group really loved the trip, but if pressed I would say arriving at the revelation that G&T's are far better in Southern Spain than in England (or at least the pours are far better). I'm left feeling disappointed in the frugal G&T's served here in London! Obviously, there was very little if anything we did not thoroughly enjoy.

Michael Murphy, London, April '16

More independent feedback
Reserve your dates Add to shortlist
Guy Hunter-Watts

Route designed by:

Guy Hunter-Watts

Guy Hunter-Watts has lived in a small village close to Ronda for almost 30 years. His home is a converted terracotta tile factory where he ran a B&B for more than 10 years.

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