Walking in Andalucia, Spain

“With an idyllic converted farmhouse as your base, take guided walks into the surrounding Andalucian countryside each day, taking in mountains, monasteries and Moorish architecture.”

Highlights

Sierra de Grazalema National Park | Staying in a converted farmhouse | Trek up to the 1,130m-high El Peñón crag | Full day in Seville | Visits to some of the Pueblos Blancos (White Towns) | Caños Santos Monastery | El Chorro Gorge

Description of Walking in Andalucia, Spain

Most visitors to Andalucia flock to the seductive cities of Seville, Granada and Cordoba – but away from this ‘golden cultural triangle’ is a vast rural landscape dotted with rustic villages, fields of sunflowers and rolling olive groves – with the dramatic granite peak background of the Sierra de Grazalema, Andalucia’s first national park.

Throughout the week you’ll be staying in the Cortijo Rosario, a tranquil converted farmhouse around 100km from Malaga. You’ll be within easy reach of the walking trails and national park, as well as the magnificent city of Seville – but far from the tourism hubs of the Costas. Life here revolves around farming the land and producing olive oil – these walks are as much an exploration of the local culture as the nature. You’ll trek up to the 1,130m-high El Peñón crag for views across the surrounding scenery, and visit some of the Pueblos Blancos (White Towns) – with their gorgeous architecture and incredible tapas bars.

You’ll have a full day to explore Seville – once the most powerful city in Al-Andalus. The walled city is still dominated by stunningly beautiful and intricate Moorish architecture – including the Giralda bell tower and the Alcazar palace complex and gardens. You’ll also spend a day in the Grazalema Mountains, exploring the limestone cliffs, gullies and caves of one of Spain’s most ecologically outstanding regions.

Hello. If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. Rosy & team.

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Holiday type

Small group holiday

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?
Big experiences
Have big, life-enriching experiences that would be impossible to organise without lots of time and insider knowledge.

Simplicity
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.
Mythbuster
“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?”
No.
Valerie Parkinson
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.
Roshan Fernando
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

Responsible tourism: Walking in Andalucia, Spain

Accommodation and meals:
Although just an hour or two from the Costas, the tiny village of Algamitas is virtually untouched by tourism and the ‘Cortijo Rosario’ is the only tourism venture in the village. This family-run farmhouse employs several people from the village and all food provided is homemade using locally produced and sourced goods wherever possible. The house is situated in 30 acres of woodland, open farm space and olive, fruit and almond trees so sometimes ingredients may even be sourced from the garden. Maria, who runs the kitchen, will also offer a paella cooking lesson so that clients are really able to immerse themselves in the culinary culture of Spain and to take some of what they learned home with them.

Local Craft and Culture:
The surrounding village cafes and bars all benefit from our visits. Set amongst the olive groves and hills of central Andalucia, Spain's poorest region, we get a real taste of the local lifestyle, as different from the ‘popular image’ of the South of Spain as could be. Clients are encouraged to explore local markets and small businesses where meals are not provided as in this area, a lot of olives, cereal and sunflowers are produced. This is a good way to support agriculture but there are also areas which are good for handicraft shopping e.g. Setenil is also a good place to buy ceramics and other local crafts.

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 maintenence. 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 in place, 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.

Group size
We operate small group tours that have a low impact on the communities we visit and we always ensure our operations do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. This allows us to stay in unique and characterful accommodation that would not have benefitted from tourism due to their limited size.

Reviews of Walking in Andalucia, Spain

You can trust Responsible Travel reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the holidays.

I am reborn! Simply the best holiday I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
Very enjoyable
It was OK
A bit disappointing really

Reviewed on 29 Jul 2012 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Hiking the Grazalema mountains in Andalucia.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Stout walking shoes are a must.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes, the local people who were employed and the local businesses we visited seemed happy to see us. We were a low-impact group, mostly walking and sometimes travelling in a small van.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Very enjoyable.

Reviewed on 25 Aug 2008 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Meeting some great fellow travellers and seeing some of the real spain.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Be prepared for high temperatures in August and for spending a reasonable amount of time on the bus travelling between stops.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Mostly. Local produce and staff were used at the accommodation, but the cortijo is owned by an ex-pat couple.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Lots of fun. Good balance of activity and relaxation - the trip notes were a good description. Maybe a little too organised for the independent minded.

Reviewed on 04 Jan 2005 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Walking in the wonderful landscape.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Book a single room.

3. Any areas for improvement?


A communal area apart from the dingy bar.

4. Any other comments?


Pilar was very committed to her guests getting the most from their holiday.

Reviewed on 27 Sep 2002 by

Myself and my wife booked this trip at short-notice after following a link from the responsibletravel.com website. It's the first time we have ever taken anything even remotely resembling an "activity" holiday and we loved it. The organised walks were all interesting and passed through beautiful, unspoilt countryside and had a personal touch by calling in on "locals" on route for a drink and a chat.

Facilities and catering at the base villa were excellent.

I'm very pleased to have chanced on your website and will certainly be using it again to set up future holidays.

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