Thursday, 20 November 2014

Walking in The Alpujarra

Walking in The Alpujarra

The Alpujarra is the area that is the southern slopes of Spain’s Sierra Nevada mountains. Having walked all over Europe and in North Africa, I can honestly say that the walking here is unsurpassed. This is hill walking terrain rather than mountain walking of the high Sierra Nevada. It is characterized by steep sided valleys, terraces and pretty white washed villages.

Walking in The TaHa
 Although many of these pretty white washed villages provide a good base to stay, Capileira is undoubtedly the best place to base yourself. There are several good day walks to be had straight from the village and other walks could be had by either driving out or by catching the bus.

Busquistar, a village in The TaHa
Sierra Nevada Guides have some walks already written up on their website and run a programme of guided walks in the spring (April, May and early June). If you are thinking of a walking holiday for your walking club, then Mountain House Holidays are able to organize a package for you. A full board, fully guided week from £695.

It’s hard to pick out a favorite walk as there are so many to choose from, and according to season when flowers are out. Undoubtedly walking in the Rio Poqueira from Capileira or in the Taha de Pitres provide the best walking. It is also possible to venture up into the Sierra Nevada without having to tackle the mountains. Hoya del Portillo above Capileira provides a good starting point. Only half an hour above Hoya brings us to the viewpoint of Puerto Molino where the higher summits can clearly be seen, especially Mulhacen (the highest mountain in mainland Spain) and Veleta the 2nd highest in the Sierra Nevada.

Walking in the Alpujarra can get too hot in July and August.  Good times are March to June and September to November.  That said, if the sun is out, it is possible to walk in T shirts throughout the winter!

T Shirts in winter!

If you are restricted to the height of summer, there are several walks to be had in the high mountains where it is cool at altitude. It is possible to catch the National Park bus from Capileira to Mirador Trevelez 2700m asl. You can expect the tempreture at 3000m to be around 15 to 20 degrees during the afternoon in July if it is not windy. With wind chill you might be looking to wear a fleece or jacket.
From Mirador Trevelez, the old road leads to The Caldera at just over 3000m. From here a path leads down the Rio Mulhacen and you can make a circuit via the Refugio Poqueira (food, drinks and toilets) before returning to the bus at Mirador Trevelez.

Maps and English guidebooks are available locally, but to help with your planning, they can be obtained in advance from Stanfords. The Editorial Alpina map / guide to the Sierra Nevada and Alpujarra is a good start. Spanish maps are usually flimsy so consider getting your map laminated before you go.

Accommodation is plentiful. Pensions, Hotels and self catering are all available. If you are planning to visit in the hotter months (mid June through until the end of September, look for somewhere with a pool or plunge pool.  It’s great to cool off after a good walk!

Mountain House Holidays and Sierra Nevada Guides are the only qualified British guides (International Mountain Leaders) based in the Alpujarra / Sierra Nevada.