The Sierra de Grazalema
With numerous peaks of over 1000 meters altitude, the steep mountains of the Sierra de Grazalema can be seen (on a clear day) from almost everywhere in the Andalusian province of Cadiz. The mountains represent the first major obstacle to the hot and humid winds from the Atlantic, at only 80 km distance. That's why the Sierra de Grazalema is one of the greenest areas of Andalusia, even in summer, and one of Spain's most stunning natural parks. There are large fir forests and Pinsapo-forests - Spanish fir trees that grew in the Tertiary period and can only be found here. The abundant water has created several limestone canyons, caves, caverns and other typical karst formations that contribute significantly to the beautiful landscape of the Sierra.
Due to its exceptional variety and wealth of its fauna and flora, in 1977 the Sierra de Grazalema was declared "Biosphere Reserve" by UNESCO and in 1984 the Regional Government of Andalusia made it the first Andalusian "Nature Park".
The park envelopes several beautiful villages like Grazalema, El Bosque, Ubrique, Zahara de la Sierra, Benaocaz, Benamahoma, Prado del Rey and Villaluenga del Rosario, belonging to the Province of Cádiz, and Benaojan, Cortes de la Frontera and Montejaque, belonging to Malaga province.
The center of the mountain range is named 'Sierra del Pinar', between the villages of Grazalema and Benamahoma. In the past it apparently served sailors even as a benchmark. The highest peaks are Torreón (1,654 m), San Cristobal (1,555 m) and Pico del Aguila (1,500 m).
In the East, the Sierra del Pinar is limited by the Puerto de las Cumbres, which forms the transition to Las Lomas (1,341 m) and Monte Prieto with the Pico del Coro (1,331 m). Westwards these two mountains are separated by the gorge of the Ballesteros brrok whose waters have carved the Garganta Verde, a canyon with vertical walls. Its name derives from the abundant vegetation on its walls and its green crystal water.
In the West of the Sierra del Pinar there is the white village of Benamahoma, in the North the Sierra del Labradillo (1.164 m) and the Sierra Margarita (1.173 m)
In the South there are the Sierra del Endrinal and the Sierra del Caíllo, whose peaks are more arid that those of the Sierra del Pinar. The highest mountains are Simancón (1.565 m) and Reloj (1.545 m), and the stunning Salto del Cabrero - the 'Goatherd's Leap', a gaping fissure in the earth's surface.
In the Southeast is the Sierra del Líbar, that reaches an altitude of 1.396 m. Here are numerous caves, such as the Hundidero-Gato Cave, the largest cave complex in Andalusia. Some of the caves have interesting drawings and other prehistoric remains, like the Cueva de la Pileta cave.
Sierra de Grazalema - a walkers paradise
Grazalema is a hiking paradise. The park offers numerous beautiful routes. Being a protected area, some of the trails (Torreón, Pinsapar, Crestería del Pinar, Llanos del Ravel, Garganta Verde) require permission that can be requested at the park's Visitor Centre, located next to the Plaza de Toros in El Bosque. Most routes, however, are free and can be walked without authorization. Nevertheless, we recommend to visit the Centre in order to get further information on the route you would like to do.
And, once you arrive in El Bosque, we'd be pleased to give you some advice on different trails and routes.
Beautiful Andalusian towns
Due to its privileged location, El Bosque is also ideal for exploring the region's cultural attractions such as the beautiful towns of Arcos de la Frontera (at 30 kms), Ronda (50 kms), Jerez de la Frontera with its many sherry-bodegas and the Flamenco Festival (60 kms), Cádiz (90 kms) and Andalusia's capital Seville (100 kms). We know all towns and will be happy to give you some tips!
Even the Atlantic is within reach: The next beach is in the nice town of Puerto de Santa Maria, at 85 kilometers distance. But it's worthwhile to visit the coastal towns of Conil de la Frontera or the villages of Los Caños de Meca or El Palmar (1,5-hour drive) and to enjoy their long and almost pristine beaches.
The Sierra de Grazalema