When in Almeria, if you like to hike, there are many trails, not least of which is the Alcaparra, running from Fiñana in Almeria, to Lanjaron in Granada, or vice versa. The Alpujarras lie between the Sierra Nevada to the north & the Mediterranean to the south, linking historic white villages & crossing beautiful countryside.
This Long Distance Path (144kms) designated the GR 142, can be walked over a period of several days, or as a series of individual shorter walks. It is situated between the snow and the sea and the best time for walking here is Spring or Autumn. The summers will be too hot for most walkers and the winters can be severe, with snow falling on the higher ground. The old paths pass through fields of vines, figs and citrus fruit and the almond blossom that appears each February is a wonderful sight.
The start of GR 142 is not far from Granada (40 kilometres) and Málaga (2 hours away).
The abundance of water, the proximity to the trade routes of the Mediterranean, and the south-facing slopes have attracted settlers for over 40,000 years. There is evidence that this area was inhabited by Stone Age peoples and by the Phoenicians. The Romans used slaves to mine iron, mercury, silver, lead and copper and some of the tracks remain from this period. For eight centuries the villages were occupied and ruled by Muslims.
The Muslim and Christian inhabitants grew citrus fruit, cotton and mulberry trees and produced silk. The villages were occupied by the Moorish inhabitants of Granada after they had surrendered the city to the Christian monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella, in 1492. Subsequently most left the country and migrated to North Africa. The remainder, in order to avoid expulsion, converted to Christianity and became known as Moriscos. Despite their conversion, they were banished from Spain at the start of the 17th century. The Alpujarra area was attacked by pirates, was depopulated and declined into extreme poverty.
The English writer, Gerald Brenan, lived here from the 1920s and his book “South from Granada”, published in 1957, brought the area to the attention of a wider public. The Alpujarra suffered greatly during the Spanish Civil War and has only started to recover in recent decades. Some villages are attracting foreign residents and there is a developing, but unobtrusive, holiday industry.
The Long Distance Path – GR 142
The Senda De La Alpujarra is known as a GR (Gran Recorrido, or large walkway) and is part of a network of Spanish walking routes established in the 1970s. It is modelled on the waymarked long distance paths in France and now there are others in Portugal, Italy, Andorra, Belgium and Holland. It starts (or finishes!) in Lanjarón, a village famous for its drinking water which is exported throughout Spain. The village of Fiñana, famous for its 10th century fortress, is at the eastern end of the Path.
The Path can be followed from east to west but, for the purpose of this article, the assumption is that walkers will be travelling from west to east. The Path is clearly marked with red and white signs. Most relatively active people will be able to average a speed of 3 to 4 km an hour.
Much of the Path goes through the Natural Park and the National Park of Sierra Nevada. Not far to the north of the Path are the two highest mountains in the Iberian peninsular (Mulhacén 3482m and el Veleta 3392m). 2000 of the 8000 catalogued species of plants in Spain can be found in the Alpujarra, as can 60 species of birds and 80 species of insects.
Directions To Lanjarón and the Start of the Path
From Málaga (100 kms), or Almería (115 kms), take the coastal Autovía (A-7). Between Salobreña and Motril take the A-44 motorway heading north towards Granada. After15 kilometres, at Exit 175 take the A346 signposted Las Alpujarras and Órgiva.
If driving south from Granada, after 40 kilometres take Exit 164 and follow the A348 road signposted to Lanjarón and La Alpujarra.
Details of a Walking Holiday Itinerary and Accommodation
Walkers may wish to amend this suggested itinerary and each section will depend on individual preferences, stamina, the weather and the time available.
Lanjarón – Órgiva 7 kms
Órgiva – Mecina Fondales 17 kms
Mecina Fondales – Lobras 17 kms
Lobras – Jorairátar 18 kms
Jorairátar – Lucainena 15 kms
Lucainena – Laujar de Andráx 18 kms
Laujar de Andráx – Almócita 11 kms
Almócita – Ohanes 13 kms
Ohanes – Abrucena 22 kms
Abrucena – Fiñana 6 kms
With regard to accommodation, there are many casas rurales. These can be farmhouses, mini-hotels, furnished rooms, or villas, and are all situated in lovely countryside. There also are albergues, pensiónes, hostales, hoteles and campsites along the route.
No special equipment will be needed. Walkers are advised to wear good walking footwear, clothes appropriate for the season and to take the usual supplies of water, food, sun cream etc.
This 144 kilometre Long Distance Path, which is very close to the Mediterranean, the Costa del Sol and the spectacular city of Granada, takes walkers through some of the most beautiful scenery in southern Spain.