Sierra de Grazalema, Southern Spain
If you drive just a little over an hour heading north east from Puerto Real, Cadíz, you can find yourself in the pretty Natural Park of Sierra de Grazalema. I once used the terms beachy and dry to describe the south of Spain, yet an excursion at this park has made me change my mind.
The Sierra de Grazalema was declared a Biosphere reserve in 1977 and became Andulicía´s first park in 1984.
The Sierra de Grazalema receives more rain than any other region of the country. Although I had seen many trees, bushes, and green fields in Southern Spain, none of them have ever been competition for what lies in the north of the country. The Natural Park defies all the stereotypes I have ever heard or myself implied, claiming that all of Southern Spain is dry compared with other Spanish regions.
People come to the Sierra to rock climb, explore caves, paraglide, mountain bike, canoe, raft down the Guadario River, horseback, and hike. For activities such as these, some people choose to spend a few nights in the Sierra. If this is the case, then there are a variety of albergues, hotels, and bed & breakfasts to choose from in the area.
Nevertheless, if you do not have the time or energy to devote to these adventures, then perhaps you may want to consider a more relaxing itinerary. Walk the charming town and have lunch at one of the Sierra’s traditional restaurants. Meat (especially pork) is a specialty of the Bosque region and is deliciously prepared.
Also visit the community’s botanical garden. Just like the rest of the park, the entrance into the conservatory is free of charge. The park’s vegetation is diverse with plants from all over Spain and various parts of Europe. The assortment of growth found in the park can be attributed to Andulicia´s privileged location between the Atlantic and Mediterranean and being located between two continents.
Also, if you have time, visit the nearby “white villages” (Arcos, Ubrique, Zahara de la sierra, Grazalema, Ronda, and Gaucin). They are neighborhoods marked with pretty white traditional houses in Spain. The white villages are conveniently on the way to or out of the Sierra. It´s a great place take a stroll!
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