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Andalucia

  • 7 Night Route

    Price: £785
  • 8 Night Route

    Price: £960
  • 6 Night Route

    Price: £725
  • 5 Night Route

    Price: £650

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

A picnic with a view

A picnic with a view

Ronda's bullring

Ronda's bullring

Ronda street

Ronda street

Ronda

Ronda

Ronda rooftops

Ronda rooftops

Price: £785
Nights: 7
Grade:
Walk: 3-5 hr/day

Customer Feedback

Helen Grove-White

"Perfect attention to detail! We threw a few good issues and problems at the team and they never blinked. All sorted without any fuss at all, as usual!" August 2016

more testimonials

Travellers Reviews

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

Self-guided walking isn't for everybody. It's a challenge and there is satisfaction on accomplishing the navigation and physical demands of walking especially as one gets older. You feel as if you have earned a drink or a meal after walking all day.

Another great benefit is to be in contact with regions and pockets of a country where no mass tourism can possibly reach. On our Andalucia walk we didn't see any other walker along the paths and tracks. Exposure to this is very important in our enjoyment of your walks.

Ray and Barbara Boniface, NSW, Australia

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

More independent feedback
Self-guided walking holiday in Andalucia (7 night) with On Foot Holidays

At a glance

Andalucia 7-night option (5 days walking plus Ronda sightseeing day). Just one night in Montejaque/Benaojan, otherwise two nights in each 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:

Mountains, valleys and white-washed villages

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 Indendent Tour Operators visit Aito.com.

TRAVEL ADVICE: To find the latest travel advice from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office for UK citizens travelling to Spain, click here. Citizens of other nations will also find it useful, but should always check their appropriate local agency.

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 this route if you a looking for: Mountains, Villages and farms, Birdwatching, History

We Recommend

Note the option to spend two nights in Benaojan (upgrade hotel, closed Nov to mid-March) to do the "Walk of Mr Henderson's Railway", or you might like 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?

Please note that the 5- 6- and 7-night versions have a longer winter season than the 8-night variant, which has a different season due to hotel closure.

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

Other possible months: September to February

Andalucia offers ideal conditions for walking throughout the autumn, spring and winter months when many of our other routes are not available. However, rain can come at any time during the winter months, rendering dry streams impassable and severely thwarting the walking. 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 Montejaque (or 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 (15 km, 5 hrs, CUSs 530m). Or why not take an upgrade and continue a little further to the village of Benaoján and spend a night in the Molino del Santo (March to mid-Nov only)? (18 km, 6hrs, CUSs 530m)

Day 6 - Montejaque (or 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. (Medium: 14 km, 4½hrs, CUSs 670m -11km, 3½ hrs, CUSs 670m if staying in Benaoján).

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), then train on to Ronda.

Day 7 - 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’re 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.

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.

Flight information can change rapidly and not all flights run daily. Please do check directly with the airlines’ websites or Skyscanner (see below) before finalising any booking with us. Do not book your flights until we have confirmed that we have provisionally reserved accommodation for you.

For up-to-date schedules and flights from all airports check Skyscanner.

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 on accommodation only basis as the breakfast offering is simple and there’s plenty of choice in the town. The other 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.

Montejaque – Posada del Fresno (dinner, B&B)

Night 5

Montejaque – Posada del Fresno (dinner, B&B)

Little family-run hotel, tastefully decorated. We advise booking a twin-bedded room if you're tall.

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

Night 5 (Upgrade)

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 6 & 7

Ronda – Hotel San Gabriel (accommodation only)

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

Prices

Price: £785 for 7 nights

Total 7 nights in double/twin room, taxi at start from Ronda to Zahara, one evening meal, 5 breakfasts, 5 picnics, luggage transfers between all hotels on walking route; full Walkers Pack with route directions, maps, transfer and background information; local telephone support.

All prices are per person unless otherwise indicated, and are based on a standard booking in April. Prices may vary seasonally and a fixed price will be given to you before you commit.

Single Room Supplement (SRS): From £180
Lone Traveller Additional Supplement (LTAS): From £150
Larger party saving (LPS): Groups of more than 2 people (on identical itinerary) – discount of at least £25 per person
Maximum party size: 10

 

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 £105  (1-3), Seville £100 (1-3), £call (4-8)
Taxi from Ronda to airports: Malaga £115 (1-3), Seville £135 (1-3), £call (4-8)
Sending Walkers Packs to addresses outside the UK and Ireland:  £10-£40 (per pack, location dependent)
Guiding by Guy Hunter-Watts (priced per group/day): Price on application

Customer Feedback

Helen Grove-White

"Perfect attention to detail! We threw a few good issues and problems at the team and they never blinked. All sorted without any fuss at all, as usual!" August 2016

more testimonials

Travellers Reviews

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

Self-guided walking isn't for everybody. It's a challenge and there is satisfaction on accomplishing the navigation and physical demands of walking especially as one gets older. You feel as if you have earned a drink or a meal after walking all day.

Another great benefit is to be in contact with regions and pockets of a country where no mass tourism can possibly reach. On our Andalucia walk we didn't see any other walker along the paths and tracks. Exposure to this is very important in our enjoyment of your walks.

Ray and Barbara Boniface, NSW, Australia

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

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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