Andalucia – 8 nights
White villages of the Ronda MountainsBack to Routes
Last look back at Zahara
At the water hole
The lake at dusk
Climbing up to Grazalema
Olive orchards below Zahara
A picnic with a view
We loved this holiday!
The hiking was great; I especially liked walking through the cork oak forests and the pastures, so we could see the cattle and the black pigs. We really appreciated the suggestion that we could walk to the caves on the last day, so took advantage of that. There were rarely any other walkers, so we felt it was a very personal route, planned just for us. It was great!
Faye Burles, Kamloops, Canada - May 2019
Everything I enjoy - movement, fresh air, scenery, photography, languages, dining and so forth - comes together on this type of holiday.
Martin Dixon, York, UK - May 2019
Amazing experience walking just the two of us through such beautiful and dramatic countryside. I loved being able to stop when we wanted, and set our pace.
Amelia Swartzbaugh, Costa Rica - March 2019
Really wonderful walks!
So varied - completely different every day.
We were blessed with sunshine, fabulous sunsets and sunrises, and we had no real difficulty following the instructions for the walks - even when the paths were 'indistinct'. Its been a memorable trip.
Dr K Nash, London, UK - December 2018
We had a fabulous time -
... a couple of rainy days (to be expected) but this didn't spoil a thing.
The peace and tranquility, wonderful vistas, wildlife and kind hosts at each of our resting posts made for a very memorable journey.
R Morris, Southampton, UK - October 2018
Walking in the Sierra de Grazelema was wonderful.
It is quiet, beautiful and unspoilt. In is an hour and a half from the Costa del Sol, but light years away as a holiday experience. Forget the beaches and go inland to encounter the people of Spain and their true culture.
We walked from white village to white village through stunning countryside, only coming across the odd shepherd with his goats or the occasional farmer.
Anon - May 2018
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
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, Mary, Emma, Debbie and Marisa
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.
- 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
This route features the following characteristics and interests: Mountains, Villages and farms, Birdwatching, History
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?
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.
Temperature and rainfall chart for Grazalema (the wettest village on 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
Available March to October only due to hotel opening season. 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)
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?
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)
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.
Sample journey by rail:
Via Paris and Madrid: Overnight (not every night) train from Paris Austerlitz to Madrid-Chamartin, easy transfer to Madrid-Puerta de Atocha. (Possible to leave your luggage there, and spend a few hours in Madrid). Take the ‘Altaria’ train to Ronda. ~15 hrs excluding time in Madrid.
From Ronda: Reverse of journey above ~15 hrs.
We suggest thetrainline.com for times, ticket booking and other information.
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.
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.
Outward: Bus then taxi – allow 4 hrs OR pre-booked taxi transfer from Malaga airport to the first hotel – 2 hrs. 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.
Night 7 & 8
One of On Foot’s favourite hotels. Stay in style and comfort in former minor ‘palace’. Additional supplements for weekend and high season stays.
Zahara de la Sierra – Los Tadeos (B&B)
A family-run pension with excellent restaurant and views.Website
Zahara de la Sierra – Al Lago (dinner,B&B)
A noted restaurant with stylish rooms over. Family run. (2 nights stay minimum)Website
Grazalema – Casa de las Piedras (B&B)
A simple, old inn on a Moorish plan near the main square and restaurant area.Website
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.Website
Montejaque – Posada del Fresno (dinner, B&B)
Little family-run hotel, tastefully decorated. We advise booking a twin-bedded room if you're tall.Website
Ronda – Hotel Soho Boutique Palacio San Gabriel (B&B)
One of On Foot’s favourite hotels. Stay in style and comfort in former minor ‘palace’. Additional supplements for weekend and high season stays.Website
Total 8 nights in double/twin room, taxi at start from Ronda to Zahara, two evening meals, 6 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. 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, 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 £210
Lone Traveller Additional Supplement (LTAS): From £155
Large Party Saving (LPS): Groups of more than 2 people (on an identical itinerary, on the same booking and booked at the same time) – discount of at least £25 per person
Maximum party size: 10
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: Supplements from: Malaga £115 (1-3), Seville £103 (1-3), £call (4-8)
Taxi from Ronda to airports: Malaga £107 (1-3), Seville £130 (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
Route designed by:
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.