“Just a few miles from the Med but a world away from the Costas, this week of walking in the Sierra de Aitana presents Andalucía away from the tourists.”
Benimantell village | Peña del Rastrell | Guadalest Valley | Serrella Peak | visit a local olive oil factory | walk from Penya Roc to Collado Papatxi | summit Puig Campana (1410m) | options to scale Aitana Peak, visit a chocolate factory and enjoy a day at the beach near Villa Joiosa |
Description of Sierra de Aitana walking holidays in Andalucia, Spain
Travel inland from the high rises of Benidorm on the Costa Blanca and you’ll discover an Andalucia walking holiday destination that the locals are keen to keep to themselves but more than happy to share with interested responsible travellers.
Walking in Andalucia is only just filtering onto the radar with southern Spain’s Sierra de Aitana providing a series of rustic routes which are perfect for exploring either side of the hotter summer months where you can expect to find trails all to yourself, just ten miles from the Med.
Following rural tracks and paths, usually reserved for mules and shepherds, walking in Andalucia gives you the chance to really explore southern Spain away from the tourist traps with stretches of ridgeline offering stunning views over distant valleys and all the way to the ocean beyond.
Warm year-round temperatures make an Andalucia walking holiday ideal for travellers who aren’t dictated to by the school holidays with hilltop castles and limestone rock formations adding to the attraction of cultural visits to nearby olive oil producers and coastal towns, such as Villajoyosa.
Hello. If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. Rosy & team.
Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modelled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, travelling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. If you’re heading off on a gap year your, perhaps – but for those with a two-week holiday, a small group tour will save valuable planning time.
The leaders are not guides – they’re not there to shepherd you around. Instead, they’ll let you know which local restaurant serves great value food – without running the risk of travellers’ tummy. They’ll allow you to avoid hour-long queues at train stations and attractions.
We like to think of small group travel as the Goldilocks option. It is independent travel without the fuss, worry and bunk beds – and organised travel without the coaches. And it’s cheaper than a tailor made tour. It’s sits somewhere in the middle – and we think it’s just about right.
What are the main benefits?
Have big, life-enriching experiences that would be impossible to organise without lots of time and insider knowledge.
Make the most of your holiday time by letting someone else do the hard work and boring logistics!
Peace of mind
Small group tours take care of the security aspects – and provide a safety net should anything unexpected happen.
Who is it ideal for?
Travellers who are short of time
If you don’t have three months to spend exploring, small groups trips let you cover more ground in less time. Your days are not spent queuing for tickets or finding hotels – so you can squeeze more into your holiday.
Solo travellers who’d like company
Likeminded travel companions plus peace of mind for those travelling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.
Less confident travellers
Stray from the tourist trail without worrying about getting lost, and meet local people without dealing with the language barrier.
“I won’t get any privacy!”
Couples and friends have private rooms, and you can choose to eat alone or not. Single supplements give solo travellers their own room.
“There won’t be any free time”
Free mornings or afternoons let you explore on your own, or just relax.
“The accommodation will be basic” Trips are as high or low end as you like. Though off the beaten track destinations won’t have luxury hotels, this is all part of the adventure.
“I won’t like the other travellers!”
Tour operators try to create groups with a similar demographic – age, families, activity levels... Chances are, you’ll even make new friends.
“Will we be following an umbrella?”
Meet a group Leader
Name: Valerie Parkinson
Story: The first British woman to climb Manaslu, Valerie climbed Everest for her 50th birthday. She’s spent fourteen Christmas Days trekking to Everest Base Camp, and is involved insetting up Responsible Tourism initiatives in the Himalayas.
Meet a local guide
Name: Roshan Fernando
Story: Roshan has led over 130 trips – he adores showing travellers around Sri Lanka. He won the company Leader Award in 2010, but his career highlight was working on their Tsunami Project – which earned him a responsible tourism award.
Responsible tourism: Sierra de Aitana walking holidays in Andalucia, Spain
Water: Water is a really important issue with trekking trips especially with late spring and summer temperatures and whilst we must stay hydrated, it is also vital that we have a system for providing clean water without causing lots of waste with plastic bottles. We suggest that instead of repeatedly buying bottled water, guests should use the fresh water springs on the way to re-fill a singular container. These springs are clean and are a wonderful resource for reducing plastic waste, or guests can simply re-fill at the hotels where they stay. We also use recyclable cloth bags for picnics in a bid to minimise other disposable packaging.
Activity: Few holidays have as little detrimental impact on the environment and local residents as a walking and trekking trip. Erosion on and adjacent to popular paths is a growing problem in certain places and therefore our trip leaders encourage clients to stick to advised routes in order to minimise this. We also employ local people regularly for footpath maintenance. We do believe in leaving no more than footprints although this tour actively encourages guests to talk to local people, visit local cafes and restaurants, use markets to purchase traditional gifts and crafts and get a real impression of this area of Spain.
UK Office: It all starts at home so we have first worked at reducing our carbon footprint in our UK Offices. Through energy conservation measures and recycling policies, we are proud to be actively reducing the waste produced and our impact on the environment. We support various projects all over the world to try and give something back to the places we visit.
Local Craft and Culture: With there being so much good, locally produced food in this region of Spain, it would be a shame not to support these cottage industries as much as possible. In Sella, we encourage guests to attend market days (Wednesdays and Fridays) where locals gather to sell their organic fruit and veg. In Beniardá in the Guadalest Valle there's also time to visit the local olive oil factory, a small scale outfit producing award-winning olive oils. Clients are free to sample and often end up purchasing some as a souvenir. In Vila Joiosa, we would also recommend the chocolate museum and factory or head to Altea, where there are handicraft shops and art galleries.
Accommodation and Meals: We try to ensure that we use locally run accommodation serving locally sourced produce as much as possible. In the first guesthouse, El Trestellador , in the village of Benimantell they produce their own olive oil, oranges, spinach and other seasonable vegetables and are renowned for their traditional meals. The remaining 4 nights are spent at Casa Roc in Sella, a charming guesthouse perched a thousand feet up on the slopes beneath Aitana Peak. Despite this fairly out of the way location, they manage to find as much of their produce in the local area as possible e.g. lemons, organges, almonds, wine and even postcards. Where meals are not supplied, your local guide can recommend a number of good restaurants in the area.
Group Size: This small group tour has a maximum of 16 participants, meaning that we have a low impact on the environments and communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. The small number also allows us to stay in unique, family-run hotels that cannot benefit from coach tours and other mass tourism due to their limited sizes.