Walking in the Sierras

The Sierra de Aracena are criss-crossed with beautiful mountain walks. Many are the old mule tracks built and used by the Romans and Moors that invaded the country many centuries ago. They are called SENDEROS locally and still used by the local people, either to travel around or just for pleasant strolls in the evenings. You can choose from gentle walks that take you along river beds and through mountain valleys, medium walks that follow the softer contours of the hills or harder and more strenuous walks that take you over the tips of the mountains. All seem to end in places to refuel with tapas and cervecas, the local name for beers.

 How long are the walks?

The greater number of walks are about 4-5 kms but can be joined together for those that feel fitter or are used to walking greater distances. For example the walk from Zufre to Higuera and Higuera to Corteconcepcion. A number of walks are circular, so you can travel to the starting point by car or bus and return to the same place. Alternatively you may like to catch a bus to the starting place and walk home or visa versa. If you wish to go on a trek that is not served by bus, we are happy to take you and pick you up at a later time. There is so much variety, you can never walk all the senderos around our region in a fortnight!

   

Guided Walks

If you prefer to walk independently, we have a number of maps and a great book dedicated to walking around the area called ‘Sierra de Aracena’ by David and Ros Braun. You are welcome to use it with the accompanying map or if you prefer to have your own the ISBN number is 1-899554-96-3.

If on the other hand you would like to have a guided walk, we are happy to organise walking tours to suit your level of fitness. We walk the Sierras on a weekly basis and have practical experience of their levels of difficulty. You do not need previous experience for these walks, but you do need to be in reasonably good health. If you enjoy walking, and would be able to walk for 2-5 hours in a day then these walks could be ideal for you. We can provide the transport, walking poles and packed lunches.

What will we see? 

Happily no two senderos are alike. Here is a flavour of just a few: 

There are those that take you through sweet chestnut tree groves, following the old routes for transporting the nuts to market. In the autumn, when the fruit is ripe you will see how they are harvested now, still using manpower and no machinery. Donkeys are still used to carry the crop in huge wicker baskets across their backs. It is at this time that the famous setas or local mushrooms are growing and a special type, found only under the chestnut trees, have to be teased out with small sticks. Many people come from Seville and the surrounding area at weekends, as a family excursion to seek out these mushrooms. 
 

Taking one of the senderos to Aracena (4.5km) uses an old Roman road, and in places the original stone pavements are visible. The track takes you through the rich and fertile valleys where you will see many crops being cultivated. While most are for personal and family use, some are grown for sale in the local market. Ploughing is now mechanised but some farms still prefer to use donkeys to till the land.

You will also see and be able to pluck green and black figs and even pomegranates in the late summer as you walk along. In the spring there are beautiful meadows with wild flowers of all colours among the cork oak and olive groves. There will also be pigs roaming around the countryside behind the Roman walls that line the route. Each pig in the region has an average of 1,000 square meters of countryside to itself and they eat the acorns from the cork oak trees. This accounts for the colour and quality of their meat. Sheep, goats, mules and horses are also to be seen on the hillsides. 

 

Some walks are across pasture lands where there is open space and spectacular views. Here you have a great opportunity to see the red tailed kite, eagles and vultures that are looking for their next meal. I have seen a stack of 32 vultures on a sendero close to the house.

The sendero in Rio Tinto is a circular walk of about 5km and takes you around one of its amazing lakes cut deep in the hillside. The water is red and the colours of the sheer rock sides are incredible; from deep orange to blue to violet with one wall looking emerald green. These are from the minerals that were once mined in the town. The walk has been specially reconstructed recently, and there are well built picnic areas and viewing places that provide the opportunity to look all the way over to Portugal. 

Will we lose our way? 

I certainly hope not! There are local maps available from the tourist information office and we provide a useful small map you can take with you. The senderos are marked as you go along the routes with lines painted on posts, trees or walls. The red and white stripes are national senderos and the yellow and white stripes are the locall senderos. We recommend you take a map with you to pick out key features to check your progress. For example, a river crossing, or a cross roads or a building. 

Some walkers will prefer to take their GPS systems which can be a useful addition but not essential.

What do we need to wear? 

Whenever walking, a good pair of shoes is recommended. For the ‘easy’ walks a pair of trainers will probably be sufficient, but for serious walkers a good pair of sturdy walking boots is needed. In the summer shorts and tee shirts are great to wear and even better if cotton. Try not to wear synthetic materials and also wear light colours that can reflect the sun. In Spring and autumn it is still hot enough to wear shorts and tee shirts, but take along a light sweater and a lightweight waterproof just in case it rains.

In the winter use layers to fit in with the change in temperature during the day. It can be cool in the morning but hot by 2pm, cooling off again around 5 o’clock. As it stays light here until 6 ish you may still be out walking when it starts to cool down. A real must to wear is a high strength suntan cream and remember to reapply regularly as the sun is much stronger than in the UK . The other essential is a wide brimmed hat to keep the sun off your neck and face. 

What should we take with us? 

Always take plenty of water at all times of the year. Even in December it can be over 25 degrees in the sunshine. You can often find springs along the way or even ask the locals for more water if you pass through a village. People are happy to oblige generally. A small amount of food is also a good idea, something with some glucose in case you become tired.

I also recommend a long walking pole to help on the uphill and downhill stretches particularly. We can provide these or you can buy these locally at reasonable prices (some with compasses which is a useful addition) or make one as you go.

In my knapsack I also carry a couple of plasters, a penknife, a plastic bag (in case I find something I want to take home like mushrooms or figs etc) an elastic band (in case I find some fresh herbs or flowers) a packet of tissues, my camera and a light weight waterproof.