The newest of Andalusias nature parks has long been a favorite among travelers.
The mountains of Almijara, Tejeda and Alhama thrust their jagged profile into the clear Andalusian sky between the provinces of Malaga and Granada. This majestic landscape, criss-crossed by hidden ravines, rushing streams and paths once travelled by muleteers and bandits, is home to ibex, wild boar and eagles. The 100,000-acre mountain region is the latest Andalusian wilderness to be designated as a nature park. The park makes the perfect setting for walking or for a mountain biking holiday. Sturdier hikers make the dramatic ascent to the top of the Lucero peak (5,836 feet) or to the Maroma, at 6,745 feet metres the tallest in the region, but there are plenty of less strenuous, gentler walks, to explore such hidden corners as El Acebuchal, an abandoned village.
Although this is a new park, there is already a considerable infrastructure in place for nature-loving travelers, for the regions villages have long been popular among visitors who have enjoyed stays in converted farm houses, taken part courses in language, pottery and landscape painting, or joined guided mountain walks and horse treks long before the term ecotourism was invented. Towns like Frigiliana and Competa are familiar destinations for those seeking a taste of authentic Andalusia, and many foreigners have become so enamoured of the setting that a good number of them have chosen to settle here permanently.
Around the wine-growing village of Competa, farm houses in the midst of the small terraced vineyards that dot the neighbouring hills have been converted into comfortable dwellings. Many of them offer accommodation as self-catered rural holiday homes. In addition, in the very heart of the park a 1922 manor, Casa de la Mina, is being converted into an 8-room rural hostelry.
Nearest airport: Malaga (35 miles, 60 km)
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Copyright © 2000 An Andalusian Experience. Text by Mark Little. Photography by J. D. Dallet - A Freelance Spain production
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Copyright © 2000-2006 Mark and David Little & J.D. Dallet