Smugglers Trails of the Sierra de Aracena

Smugglers Trails of the Sierra de Aracena information and booking

from
$1160
  • Duration
    9 days
    Days
  • Group size
    1-10
    Persons
  • Difficulty
    moderate
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Schedule Details

Summary
  • 8 nights hotels/inns

Highlights

  • Sierra de Aracena y Picos de Aroche Natural Park
  • Historic white villages
  • Moorish Forts and ancient Arabic Acequia

Tour description provided by World Expeditions

Sierra de Aracena y Picos de Aroche is the second largest Natural Park of Andalucía (declared a Natural Park in 1989 and recently awarded the European Charter for sustainable tourism), lying in the north of Huelva province, which in turn is the most westerly province of Andalucía, not far indeed from the Portuguese border. With only 40,000 inhabitants scattered over its 3.000 square kilometres it is probably one of the least known and visited of all the parks in Andalucia and you’ll be surprised by the lush vegetation almost all year round, the profusion of wild flowers through the spring months, the autumnal colours lighting up la Sierra and a gourmets feast of wild mushrooms found in masses given the right conditions. The rolling hills and white villages offer wonderful walking opportunities. The character of the villages has changed little over the centuries, their history reflected in their architecture and the landscape surrounding them. On walks you pass along Roman cobbled tracks, glimpsing abandoned watermills and ancient hill forts left by the Moors. You can still see villagers working their small allotments, hear the ringing of goat bells among the oaks and chestnuts, and the bubbling of the many streams and springs which abound in these hills. Many of these tracks are accompanied by the ancient arabian water system “acequia” and were frequently used during the Spanish Civil War and after to smuggle goods into Spain from Portugal. Herds of the black Iberian pig grazing among the groves of cork and holm (Quercus Suber and Ilex) oak are a common sight, where in autumn they feast on the falling acorns and the area is rich in visible bird life with an important population of black vultures. Other raptors are common and include the Golden, Short-toed and Bonelli’s eagles. You can see stork’s nests on almost every village church as well as the endangered black stork, and as you wander along the streams, sightings of heron and egrets are common. Andalucía suffered acutely during “La epoca negra” – the black period – or simply “el hambre” -the hunger - during the 1940’s and 50’s, after the Spanish Civil War, forcing mass emigration to larger cities and abroad to find work to support their families. In La Sierra some opted to join the smuggling trade and become “Mochileros” – packmen. It was a tough and risky business carrying up to 30kgs in homemade backpacks with rope for straps from the Portugese border village Barrancos into the Sierra to be then moved down to Sevilla. Organised by smuggling bosses, the mochileros would carry loads of the three main staples beans, coffee and tobacco over 100 km in a 24 hr period. Empty mule trains would be used along the wider paths to distract the Guardia Civil – Border Police – whilst the Mochileros would use the higher, rockier paths to stealthily enter La Sierra and deliver their goods to places such as La Posada in Alájar where hiding places where provided until the goods were moved on. The Sevillanos to this day insist that Portugese coffee is the worse to be had!

What's included

  • 8 breakfasts, 2 dinners
  • 8 nights accommodation in a mixture of hotels and inns on a twin share basis with ensuite facilities
  • Luggage transfer
  • Information pack including route notes & maps
  • Emergency hotline

Itinerary

Day 1 Arrival in Aracena
Time permitting a wander around this lively market town, a visit to the “Gruta de las Maravillas (“cave of wonders”) and a guided tour around the Jamón museum will give you some insight on the journey you are about to undertake. Accommodation: In Aracena - You will be staying in a recently converted mill, which has been tastefully decorated in a rustic style with wonderful little touches.
Day 2 Aracena to Alájar - 12 km / 3 hours
Along the old mule motorway of centuries past through cork oak forests you will reach the delightful town of Linares. Here the intricately patterned stone thresholds and beautifully preserved fountain – lavadero are worth visiting before heading towards the deserted village of Los Madroñeros and Alájar beyond, where your well earned dinner awaits you at La Posada. Alájar is an arabian word roughly translated to Jewel and some say that this village is the jewel of the Sierra. Accommodation: In Alájar you stay at La Posada, a small family run 18th century inn renovated to offer a homely and comfortable stay. If you stay here you can use the pool at the Posada de San Marco as below NB: it is possible to upgrade accommodation in Alájar to the low impact, environmentally friendly Posada de San Marco, which has attractive patio and garden with an outdoor swimming-pool.
Day 3 A choice of 2 circular walks - 10.6 km / 3 hours or 13.5 km / 3.5 hours
A 3 hour walk climbing the sierra behind the village to take in the views, visiting the hermitage and through the impressive chestnut forests. Or following the picturesque stream south through a dramatic valley with superb rock formations opening out into the woodlands of cork and holm oaks (5.5hrs), before returning back for a delicious 3 course meal at La Posada. Accommodation: In Alájar you stay at La Posada, a small family run 18th century inn renovated to offer a homely and comfortable stay. If you stay here you can use the pool at the Posada de San Marco as below NB: it is possible to upgrade accommodation in Alájar to the low impact, environmentally friendly Posada de San Marco, which has attractive patio and garden with an outdoor swimming-pool.
Day 4 Alájar to Almonaster - 12 km / 3 hours
Leaving Alájar we head west towards Almonaster along the stream valley populated with oleander, poplar and ferns, passing through several small villages on the way. Almonaster boasts an interesting Islamic history with a beautiful tiny 9th-century mosque (the only rural mosque preserved in Spain) well worth a detour. Accommodation: In Almonaster. Tonight you stay at a 2 star family run hotel, which also hosts a restaurant.
Day 5 Almonaster to Galaroza - 16.7 km / 5.5 hours
Climbing the second highest peak in the Sierra we head up and north towards Galaroza surrounded by sweet chestnut forest abound with wild peonies in Spring, enjoying marvelous views towards the coast and inland and the Templar castle of Cortegana dominating the skyline (6hrs). Make your way to the top of the village where you will find your aparthotel. Accommodation: Galaroza - You stay at the top of the village in a 2 star aparthotel with lovely views across the sierra and with its own restaurant and swimming pool.
Day 6 Galaroza to Fuenteheridos - 14 km / 3.5 hours
Again heading north you will walk through cork and holm oak forests before dropping down into a medieval village. Heading south you will walk along a delightful river valley through another typical white village before gently dropping into the lively village of Fuentheridos (6hrs). Accommodation: Fuenteheridos - Just below the church you will find your accommodation in a comfortable and friendly family run hostal.
Day 7 Circular walk to Fuenteheridos - 14.8 km / 4 hours
A circular route that takes in the highest village in La Sierra, Castaño, through ancient chestnut forests that abound with wild flowers in spring and are ablaze with colour in autumn (5hrs). Accommodation: Fuenteheridos - Just below the church you will find your accommodation in a comfortable and friendly family run hostal.
Day 8 Fuenteheridos to Alajar - 13.5 km / 3.5 hours
The final walk takes us through pretty plantations of citrus, quince, pomegranate and strawberry trees. The climb over the sierra is well worth the vistas on your way. Down into Linares and then the final pull to return back to Alájar for your final night (5hrs). Accommodation: In Alájar you stay at La Posada, a small family run 18th century inn renovated to offer a homely and comfortable stay. If you stay here you can use the pool at the Posada de San Marco as below. NB: it is possible to upgrade accommodation in Alájar to the low impact, environmentally friendly Posada de San Marco, which has attractive patio and garden with an outdoor swimming-pool.
Day 9 End of tour
Depart Alájar after breakfast, why not extend your trip, ask our staff for more information.