THE WALKS

Your guide...

My Customers say:

"Had a wonderful time - would definitely do another walk with Eva again when we visit the area" 

G and D R., Littlehampton, UK 

Suggested walks are between 5 and 6 hours of walking time. However it is almost impossible to accurately judge how long a walk will take for every single person. I have calculated the times having in mind an average walker who enjoys making short stops for wildlife, taking a photo or two and having a snack under a cork-oak tree. So, in fact, the walking time itself forms only part of our day out in addition to enjoying our environment. I do not walk to score points or set new records and the focus is on enjoyment.


None of the walks include hard scrambling, steep climbing or hard altitude gains. The terrain can vary between dirt tracks, stony paths, rocky fields ,forest paths and meadows and I advise of that in the walk description.

                                A FEW SUGGESTED WALKS
WALK 01:  GRAZALEMA TO MONTEJAQUE or MONTEJAQUE TO GRAZALEMA

This lovely and very easy 5 hour walk can be done in a variety of ways: we can start in Montejaque and finish in Grazalema, we can reverse it or we can start in Montejaque and catch the bus from Grazalema to go back to Montejaque or Ronda. If you wish to start in Grazalema and then end up back in Grazalema, transport can also be arranged. I can adapt the walk to your needs.

It´s a walk at low altitudes yet you will be surrounded by mountain views. We will cross three beautiful valleys, a cork oak grove and we will walk along a river. The surface varies from a forest path to a dirt track, with a short part of a stony path. There are some thistles in one spot so please wear long trousers.

The birdlife on this walk is astonishing. There are birds that love the rocky landscapes like the Blue Rock Thrush, Black and Black-eared Wheatear. There are also those that prefer woodland, such as Mistle Thrush, Hoopoe, and Booted Eagle. Finally there are birds which like open spaces such as Woodchat and Iberian Grey Shrike and the Bee-Eater. The lovely Cirl Bunting is also likely to make an appearance.

The variety of birds and landscapes is what makes me adore this walk and I love to share it with visitors.Flower and butterfly lovers will be also satisfied, and there is a part of the walk where I have counted at a time five different species of orchids in one single spot.  
Views of EL Simancón  mountain peak from the walk
Scilla peruviana, mistakenly named after a ship, not its country of origin....





Sawfly Orchid  - Ophrys tenthrenidifera
Butcher´s Broom, Ruscus aculeatum



                     **********************************************************
 WALK 02:  MONTEJAQUE - LLANOS DE LIBAR - CALABAZALES - MONTEJAQUE

Circular, 4 hours

This intimate little walk takes you from Montejaque to Llanos de Libar valley with its surprising rocky landcapes, through a low mountain pass to a lush river valley and back to Montejaque.


There is a very short climb at the beginning which can be done at a pace that suits one best: the surface is a wide country track. There is a very short part of the walk when we cross a ploughed field so walking shoes are a must. I also recommend wearing long trousers as there is a part of the path which can be overgrown, something that also makes the walk a bit wilder and more interesting The major part of the trail is easy and the surface is even and comfortable with open spaces and lovely views. There is no mountain climbing or scrambling involved.

This is a walk where there is a very good chance of observing the rare Bonelli´s Eagle, as well as the more common Short-toed Eagle, the Griffon Vulture, Rock Bunting, Cirl Bunting, Blue Rock Thrush, Subalpine and Sardinian Warbler, amongst others. Between January and April the Giant Orchid makes its appearance and from late March till June you can find numerous wild peonies.

The walk is frequently done by the local retired men who later gather in a little shack that they proudly call "Marina D´Or" where they have a few restorative drinks and then light a fire in the evening.




Spanish Festoon - Zerynthia Rúmina
Limestone and meadows of Montejaque


Llanos de Libar



*******************************************************************

           WALK 03   LLANOS DE LÍBAR TO SIERRA DE JUAN DIEGO

This fairly easy 4-5 hour walk takes you to stunning mountain landscapes without having to climb hard or walk at high altitudes. We enjoy a peek to both sides of the Sierra de Juan Diego,  the mountain range that divides the two villages of  Montejaque and Benaoján.

This varied walk encompasses all that I love about the mountains around Ronda: the solitude of open spaces, patches of wildflowers, rich birdlife and mountain views. There are no hard climbs on this walk and it can be done by walkers of all ages and levels of fitness at comfortable pace. However, walking shoes are a must as we would be walking on rocky terrain. The reward for gaining just a little bit of altitude are superb views across the Líbar Valley.

There are ancient oaks, and a natural spring on the way is a hotspot for wildlife:  Olivacious Warblers, Blue Tits, Subalpine Warblers, Green Woodpeckers and a score of other birds come to drink,  bathe and have a snack, be it a tasty insect in the cork-oak bark or a wild rose fruit.

Ibex can be spotted in the surrounding mountain ridges and Griffon Vultures fly over low to get to the other side of the mountain chain. Black-eared Wheatears perch on rocks as you pass by and Redstarts show-off their rusty tails as they flitter just a few metres in front of us.








              *******************************************************************

        WALK 04  BEE-EATERS AND WOODCHAT SHRIKES IN A GREEN VALLEY

The most exotic-looking European birds are here with us until September. This 4-hour walk includes Bee-Eater spotting, good photo opportunities  and a gentle stroll in beautiful countryside near Ronda.

Other interesting bird species likely to be observed inculde: Woodchat Shrike; Booted, Short-toed and Bonelli´s Eagle; Sardinian and Subalpine Warbler; Siskin; Black Wheatear; Kingfisher and, of course, the  Griffon Vulture. The walk is extremely easy on flat and even surfaces.






WALK 05    THE  "DEHESA", RAPTORS AND A STORY BOOK TRAIN STATION

The word Dehesa is a Spanish word for land that is used and managed by humans for agriculture and hunting. Most commonly it consists of some arable land, and forests "alcornoques" or cork oaks (Quercus suber) and "encinas" or holm oaks (Quercus ilex).  It  also may contain some pines, wild olive trees (acebuches) eucaliptus and rich undergrowth or various plants, shrubs, ferns, and even mushrooms.

This is a great example of sustainable agriculture: the land provides cork, mushrooms, game and feed for farm animals from the human point of view, then shelter  and food such as  acorns and a rich plant selection for wild animals. Dehesas are full of life: birds, insects, reptiles, deer, wild boar, weasels, martens, genets and mongooses.

Cortés de la Frontera is the centre village for the area and it is beginning to be a thriving walking centre for naturalists with many new projects, courses and ideas.

The nearby Raptor Feeding Station is a new project aiming at attracting birdwatchers and walkers to the area. It consists of a feeding area for vultures and birds of prey, a viewing point well adapted for using a telescope and binoculars, explanatory charts in Spanish and good English telling the story of "muladares" which were traditional places where farmers would bring dead farm animals for vultures to clean up. Nowadays only authorised personel can supply carrion to the feeding stations. There are 23 of them in Andalucia but this one is the first one built with birdwatchers, and not only birds, in mind.

Raptor Species that have been seen at the station: Griffon and Black Vultures, Egyptian Vulture (a rare treat!), Common Buzzard, Black Kite, Red Kite, Ruppel´s Vulture (on occasion), and Common Raven.

Griffon vulture (Gyps fulvus) Buitre leonado


The 4-hour walk takes you from the feeding station through the cork-oak forest to a lovely train station where you can proceed to Ronda, Benaoján or Jimera de Líbar .

Dehesa birds 
Species that I have observed on the walks in Cortes area include: Eurasian Nuthatch, Eurasian Hoopoe, Short-toed Treecreeper, Long-tailed Tit, Crested Tit, Blue Tit, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Bonelli´s Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Lesser Kestrel, Little Owl, European Bee-Eater and Eurasian Wryneck.

PLEASE SUPPORT THE CORK INDUSTRY AND THIS WAY PLEASE HELP PRESERVE THE BEAUTIFUL CORK-OAK FORESTS OF SPAIN AND PORTUGAL


Walk 06  ABOVE THE GRAZALEMA VILLAGE


The start and finish of this walk is in Grazalema village, a beautiful pueblo blanco famous for great walking, nature and ..food! This high difficulty walk is particularly interesting for walkers who do not mind gaining about 600 metres of altitude on comfortable paths with a bit of light scrambling at the top. There is an option of staying just below the peak and enjoying the landscapes at the mountains pass below the summit (1564 m). We start off at 930 metres and the climb is quite steady. You will need walking boots and walking poles for this walk. There will be walking poles available for those who do not carry their own (they do not quite fit in the hand luggage !).


The walk does not require a permit and does not "close" in June, though it is best to do this walk in spring, autumn or winter, excluding the hottest months of end of June, July and August or foggy winter days.