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Aracena

Walking Holidays in Sierra de Aracena Walking Holidays in Sierra de Aracena Walking Holidays in Sierra de Aracena

Walking Holidays in the Sierra de Aracena

Sierra de Aracena y Picos de Aroche is the second largest Natural Park of Andalucía and recently awarded the European Charter for Sustainable tourism. It lies in the north of Huelva province, which in turn is the most westerly province of Andalucía, not far from the Portuguese border. With only 40,000 inhabitants scattered over its 3.000 square kilometres it is probably one of the least known and visited of all the parks in Andalucia, which is surprising considering the lush vegetation that thrives here almost all year round. Spring brings a profusion of wild flowers, the autumnal colours light up La Sierra and a gourmet feast of wild mushrooms are found in masses given the right conditions.


During "el hambre" - the hunger - in the 1940's and 50's (after the Spanish Civil War) many of the locals became "Mochileros" - packmen - smuggling goods across the Sierra from the Portuguese border. They used high remote paths carrying their contraband on its first leg towards Seville. You will certainly be well off the beaten track following some of these old paths to explore the verdant landscapes where black Iberian pigs snuffle amongst the Cork and Holm Oak woodlands and bird spotters have a good chance of seeing black vultures, eagles, heron, egrets and the storks that nest on almost every village church.


The rolling hills and white villages offer wonderful walking opportunities. The character of the villages has changed little over the centuries, their history reflected in their architecture and the landscape surrounding them. On walks you pass along Roman cobbled tracks, glimpsing abandoned watermills and ancient hill forts left by the Moors. You can still see villagers working their small allotments, hear the ringing of goat bells among the oaks and chestnuts, and the bubbling of the many streams and springs which abound in these hills. Many of the tracks are accompanied by the ancient Arabian water system "acequia" and were favoured routes for the smugglers carrying their loads from Portugal.

 

The towns and villages along the way are a delight and are just about as ‘Spanish’ as you can get. Arecena is a lively market town with a ‘cave of wonders' and a great museum, which will give you an insight into the history and traditions of the region you will be walking through. The stonework and fountains of Linares; the gorges and forests around Alajar; the only preserved rural mosque in Spain and a Templar castle are just a few of the things to see along the way.

 

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