La Alpujarra is in southern Spain.
The region known as 'Las Alpujarras' is an enchanting and remarkable part of Spain. Treasured by the Moors as a 'paradise' location this mountainous area is situated between the summits of the Sierra Nevada and the Mediterranean coast of the Costa del Sol. The southern facing slopes that ascend to the peaks of the Sierra Nevada are gentle in their incline but are cut by deep valleys and gorges, such as the Rio Poqueira, the Rio Trevelez or the Rio Grande. The hillsides are covered in ancient terraces that are still used to cultivate olives, fruit of every sort, wheat and vegetables. The legacy of the Moors is the extensive irrigation system, the 'acequias', that divert water out of the deep valleys and onto the broad terraces. This ancient system of watering has been responsible for the characteristic look of the area and for the fact that forests of broad leafed trees such as the emblematic Chestnut can survive as the water is spread and filtered across the landscape. Along with the cultivation of crops the land is still grazed by sheep and goats, many of which migrate to the pastures of the high Sierra Nevada in the summer months.
As a holiday destination it is ideal for walking, cycling, riding, photography, painting and the appreciation of flowers and wildlife; but most of all for just unwinding and taking time out. The climate is generally mild with temperatures seldom going above 30 degrees centigrade during the summer in the higher mountain villages. In the winter when the skies are clear it is often warm enough for just a t-shirt during the day, but a night time the temperatures frequently fall below zero at locations above 1000 metres.
The area is divided between the eastern Alpujarra in the province of Almeria and the western Alpujarra in Granada. There is also a significant distinction between the villages of the high and low Alpujarra in terms of access and general living conditions associated with climate. The western Alpujarra is within easy striking distance of the historical city of Granada with its fabulous Alhambra Palace, yet is close enough to the coast to enjoy a day lounging on the beach. During the winter and spring you can even go skiing on the high slopes of the Sierra Nevada - less than two hours by car.
The nearest city to the alpujarra is Granada.
In the high Alpujarras consider:
The Alpujarras is a fabulous area for walking, whether you are interested in high altitude treks in the peaks of the Sierra Nevada, many of which are over 3000 metres or casual meandering around the fascinating villages of the high Alpujarra. The GR7 path (Gran Recorida, long distance footpath from Athens to Algeciras) passes through the area and there is an extensive network of other tracks to choose from. The paths are well sign-posted and are often old mule tracks - so the steepness is no more than a loaded mule can manage! The area is never crowded with walkers and you can often be out in the mountains all day and encounter no more than a cow herder on his horse, or a shepherd with his flock.
If you choose your walks carefully and are prepared to make the most of the day then walking is possible here at all times of year. For example, in August, when the lower valleys are possibly too hot for vigorous activities, temperatures in the accessible high mountains may not go much above 20 degrees centigrade.
Mulhacen, in the Sierra Nevada, is the highest peak on mainland Spain. Whilst in the winter it is difficult to access this peak and only the most experienced of walkers should attempt it, in the summer there is a service that runs from the Alpujarran village of Capileira taking walkers by bus up into the National Park area of the Sierra Nevada in order to start an ascent on this summit.
A range of good and economical accommodation is available, be it self catering, hotel or hostal.
- Cortijo Opazo, Pórtugos, ☎ +34 958064018, . Self Catering accommodation in delightfully restored Alpujarran farmhouse. Situated in the countryside a short walk from the high Alpujarran villages of Pitres and Pórtugos. Ideal base for walking, free guides and maps supplied. Full walking holiday option available.
If you enjoy meat be sure to try the dried Serano ham, available everywhere. Also Morcilla, a type of black pudding, is a speciality along with the heavily meat ladden 'Plato Alpujarreño' or variations thereof.
Spanish tortilla or more the exciting 'Revueltas' are good choices for vegetarians. 'Revueltas' are like a scrambled egg mixed with other ingredients, so specify 'no meat' ('sin carne'). A common ingredient to mix with the eggs to make this dish is 'Acelgas' or chard.
For a local wine ask for 'Vino Costa'. This is a pinky brown wine with a strong taste and stronger kick. The pinker it is the younger it is - it should be drunk reasonably young. If you order this in a bar the chances are it will have been made by the family who run the bar from their own grapes.
Coffee is almost always excellent and strong.
For a non alcoholic beverage ask for Mosto, unfermented grape juice.
Many places will still give you free 'tapas' (small plate of food to nibble) if you have a wine or a beer. This is a great Spanish tradition that has disappeared from many other areas.
I can't imagine anyone having any concerns regarding safety in this region, except for getting sun burnt, even in the winter! The risk would be to fall into a false sense of security and forget basic personal safety measures when you leave this enchanting area and return to the 'outside' world.