This was our 10th trip with Explore!, many of which have been walking trips, though a few were more cultural (e.g Thailand, Peru). This trip was centre based, in the white Andalucian village of Canillas de Albaida, whereas some trips change accommodation as you move along a route. The 5 walks themselves were in [if you can just stick with this title] the Parque Natural de las Sierras de Tejeda, Almijara y Alhama. How’s that for a mouthful?
The walking here was graded as moderate which, depending upon ones fitness, of course, could be regarded as reasonably serious. As you can see from this picture (that’s Canillas de Albaida in the centre), Andalucia really doesn’t do flat, you’re either going up or down and, as most walkers know, down can be as energetic as up. Since, in addition to all the water we needed, we were lugging proper camera kit up and down the lumps, we thought we really should use it. To give an idea, at least to UK readers, our longest (and best) walk was a bit like walking up Snowdon (not the more gentle tourist track though). except that Snowdon rarely reaches the 25-30°C of Andalucia.
Now to the nitty-gritty. In my view, though, this was the weakest of the 10 trips that we’ve been on with Explore. That’s not as bad as it may sound because the standard of all the other trips has been very good. So, what was it that makes me call it weaker? Well, once on an actual footpath, the walking was fine but, in my opinion, there were far too many sections of road, either tarmac or wide, stony 4×4 tracks needed to link the enjoyable sections together. Here’s a couple of shots showing what I mean. There was an up side to these tracks, though, because Francine was able to see, pause, study and photograph the wild flowers en route (but more of this in another post).
Once we got onto the the bona fide footpaths, they were fine and enjoyable, although care and walking poles were needed to maintain ones footing on loose, dry material, largely stones, which can be likened to walking on marbles. We even had some fun criss-crossing a river – sticks really are handy dealing with slippery rocks underfoot – on the way up to the summit of Cerro Verde which, BTW, we considered to be the most enjoyable walk. This is much more what I was looking/hoping for.
On a couple of the walks we called in to a local bar or bodega for a tapas lunch. These were universally excellent, particularly our bodega visit where we were introduced to a series of local sweet wine specialities. the bodega had an intriguing grape press which operated upwards with a ram driven by hydraulic power – very counter-intuitive.
So all in all, generally enjoyable but falling short of brilliant. Pretty, though.