Thursday, 20 February 2014

Sierra de Grazalema, the Simacón and the Reloj

The Sierra de Grazalema was the first natural park in Andalucia, now a UNESCO Biosphere reserve. It is a highly protected, very special place. The area offers spectacular landscapes full of rugged mountain peaks and gorges. Due to its annual high amount of rainfall it has an amazing variety of plants, including a special type of fir that is a ‘leftover’ from the prehistoric ages. It also has an impressive black vulture colony.

The area is so protected that you have to apply for a permission to walk on some of its hiking routes (these can be obtained from the El Bosque Information Office). In some crucial months of the year hiking is not even permitted. Luckily we went late in the year and found a lovely route which took us up to two peaks, to the Simacón and to the Reloj.

The hike started with a nice ascent through a pine forest with huge pine trees. We quickly gained height and had lunch in a lovely spot overlooking the valley.

As we continued our walk we came across this heard of wild deer which seemed quite tamed and did not run away even when we walked relatively close to them.

Then we got to Simacón. The description of the hike did talk about scrambling but we always take these warnings with a pinch of salt, we are in Andalucia, after all. This time however it seemed to be true and we made our way up to the top. The view was amazing, as always.

Curiously we noticed that area was full of ladybirds! It seemed that there was a ladybird party up there.

Then came the hardest part of the hike. To be able to get from the peak of Simarcón to the Reloj we had to go over a treacherous bit where the limestone was shaped by the wind and the rain. It looked amazing but we really had to be careful about where we put our feet. It was mentally exhausting to get through this bit.

On the top of Reloj. We could even spot Ronda from there!

The route was only about 13km long but we found it very tiring due to the difficulties between the two peaks.

This area is the first one where the marking of the routes is seriously lacking. Luckily we were up high so we were able to see where we have to go and our smartphone map again proved to be useful. I would definitely advise taking a map though as the different routes often criss-cross and it’s hard to find the right one.  

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