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Hiking trail

Benaoján to Ronda

Hiking trail · Benaoján
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Macs Adventure Verified partner  Explorers Choice 
  • Church (Parroquia Nuestra Señora del Rosario), Benaoján
    / Church (Parroquia Nuestra Señora del Rosario), Benaoján
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
  • / Cuevo del Gato
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
  • / View to the Ronda Escarpment
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
  • / Church in the Moorish Quarter
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
  • / Sunrise from Puente Nuevo with views to El Tajo Gorge
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
  • / Plaza de Toros (Bullring)
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
  • / View to Puente Nuevo
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
m 800 700 600 500 400 10 8 6 4 2 km Cueva del Gato Medieval Road

Today you leave Benaoján and the Sierra de Grazalema National Park, but as the mountains shrink behind you the mighty cliffs of Ronda rise in front of you; a perfect finale to your walking adventure!

moderate
11.3 km
3:30 h
402 m
236 m

Benaoján appears to be in the heart of the National Park, enclosed on all sides by breathtaking limestone peaks, but this is somewhat misleading. After a steep, winding climb out of the valley, you descend into a strange and forgotten world. You now walk on the edge of the National Park. Where before there was native oak woodland there are now golden fields of wheat and occasional trains that chug past on the railway line.

As you amble across the undulating foothills the mountains recede behind you, until the eye-watering splendour of the previous days appears a secret reserved entirely for you. The changes as you leave the National Park bring a fitting sense of closure to your walking adventure, and yet, perhaps the best is saved for last… Ronda!

Your first glimpse to Ronda is one you’ll remember for a long time! The town appears to defy human rationality; why on Earth would you build a village perched so precipitously atop cliffs?! The answer lies in the unsettled history, as the cliffs offered superb natural defences. Resultingly, Ronda was one of the final Islamic outposts, and there is a wealth of Moorish architecture, cuisine and influence for you to discover. Of course, there are wonderful viewpoints throughout the city, capitalising on the clifftop location!

Author’s recommendation

For those looking to extend there walking day slightly, check out the ‘Cueva del Gato’ (adds the best part of an hour). I was very impressed by the caves and would encourage you to go! See 'Points of Interest' section.

outdooractive.com User
Author
Macs Adventure
Updated: March 05, 2020

Difficulty
moderate
Technique
Stamina
Experience
Landscape
Highest point
748 m
Lowest point
439 m

Safety information

There are some exposed and unfenced edges throughout the walk; be careful and remain on the path.

There are several stretches where you must walk on the road as there is no pavement. Walk on the left side facing the oncoming traffic unless there is a sharp left bend, in which case you should cross to the outside edge to allow drivers the maximum time to see you.

Some of the path is along rocky steps; be careful as these may be slippery, especially when wet.

On today’s walk, you must cross a railway track. There are no barriers or flashing lights so be sure to check both directions, before crossing swiftly and cautiously.

Equipment

Sturdy hiking boots and a waterproof/wind-break layer are required. Walking poles will be a big advantage on some of the steep ascents and descents.

Ensure your phone is fully charged; if you doubt the battery will last throughout the hike, it might be beneficial to bring a power bank.

Make sure you bring enough water. It is recommended to drink 0.75 litres per 1 hour of hiking in hot weather.

Be sure to bring plenty of sun-cream and a healthy respect for the sun.

Tips, hints and links

Points of Interest

Cueva del Gato

The Cueva del Gato (or cat cave) is a yawning hole in the mountains. Like magic, out of the cave gushes a subterranean river, and at its mouth lies a sapphire-blue lagoon. In addition to this natural interest, the caves are also recognised culturally, due to the presence of ancient cave paintings and their connection with the 19th-century era of banditry – the caves are thought to have been a refuge for bandits hiding from the law!

 

Medieval Road

Part of today’s walk (the cobbled descent after leaving Benaoján) is along a section of Mediaeval Road. The first car entered Benaoján in 1941 (at which point the population was 3,000) so until recently this footpath would have been once of the main way in and out of the village. As you walk, just imagine passing heavily-laden donkeys making the journey to/from Ronda!

 

Food and Drink

There are limited options to buy food or drink, or to refill water bottles throughout this walk, so be sure to bring sufficient provisions with you.

As you reach a junction with the main road at 7km, there is an option to take a 300-metre detour to visit a restaurant. Turn right to cross the river, and shortly after you will arrive at a restaurant on the left side. More information available here: https://venta-del-puente.negocio.site/

 

Start

Church (Parroquia Nuestra Señora del Rosario), Benaoján (562 m)
Coordinates:
Geographic
36.718829, -5.253344
UTM
30S 298755 4066048

Destination

Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Merced (Church of Our Lady of Mercy), Ronda

Turn-by-turn directions

If you are doing the Ronda and the Sierra de Grazalema Short Break or the Best of Andalucia variation of this tour then your included transfer will drop you off around the start point of the walk - it may be that it can't get you to the exact location due to small/tight roads.

0.00km – Start in the plaza with your back to the entrance of the Church (Parroquia Nuestra Señora del Rosario). BEAR LEFT towards the corner of the plaza, and then BEAR LEFT as the road forks, to walk along Calle Presbetero Jose Moreno. Remain on this road ignoring all side roads.

0.40km – CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON at the roundabout to walk along the main road which has a central partition of flowers and bushes.

0.77km – As you reach the edge of the town and there is a 40km speed limit sign, BEAR RIGHT onto the downhill paved lane, following the footpath sign to Ronda.

1.20km – After passing a cemetery on your left, BEAR RIGHT to pass a concrete bridge over a stream (which may be dry) and then follow the road as it winds steeply uphill.

1.80km – CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON as you crest the hill to head downhill on the rocky track. Ignore the paved road on your left. There is a wooden post with red and white markings to guide you. As you head into the valley, beautiful views will unfold before you.

2.70km – CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON following the wooden post and the boulder which have red and white markings. You can turn sharply right if you wish to take the detour to Cueva del Gato – approximately 20 minutes one-way. See ‘Points of Interest’ and ‘photos’ section to learn more.

2.80km – CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON sticking to the main established path that heads steadily downhill towards the railway. The path will occasionally fork; choose the more established path, though these will always rejoin.

3.50km – The footpath will reach the railway. BEAR LEFT to continue walking along the footpath, keeping the railway on your right.

3.90km – CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON as the footpath becomes gravel vehicle tracks, keeping the railway on your right. Ignore the right turn that crosses over the railway.

6.30km – TURN RIGHT to cross over the railway, following the footpath signpost to Ronda. There are no barriers or flashing lights to warn you when a train is coming so be sure to check both directions before crossing swiftly but carefully. Once across the railway, BEAR LEFT to walk along the paved road, ignoring all side paths.

7.00km – As you reach a ‘Stop’ junction with a larger paved road, BEAR LEFT to head uphill. Walk on the left-side facing the oncoming traffic. After 400 metres, as the road bends left to leave Trevisia (white sign with a red diagonal stripe), BEAR RIGHT along the gravel road.

7.80km – With electrical pylons on your left, BEAR LEFT as the road forks to follow the mud road uphill. Ignore the paved road which heads downhill.

8.50km – TURN RIGHT as you reach a T-junction with a gravel road, following the sign to Ronda. After 100 metres the road will become paved.

8.90km – At the junction with a gravel road, BEAR RIGHT and then after 20 metres BEAR LEFT onto the uphill rocky path, following the sign to Ronda and heading towards a pylon. After 50 metres you will get your first glimpse to Ronda, perched atop the cliffs.

9.50km – BEAR RIGHT to continue heading uphill and onto a paved road beside the stone wall. Ignore the downhill left turn. After 100 metres, BEAR RIGHT to keep ascending on the paved road beside the wall, ignoring a narrow lane that disappears into woodland on your left.

9.90km – As the road becomes gravel and immediately forks, BEAR LEFT. After 100 metres, just after passing an electricity pylon on your left, BEAR RIGHT to continue uphill. After 100 metres, this will lead onto a paved road and continue climbing, with a precipitous drop (behind the wall) and wonderful views on your right, and houses on your left.

10.50km – BEAR RIGHT at the roundabout to continue enjoying the views on your right. Remain on this road, ignoring all side paths. After 200 metres it will wind past houses on your left, before entering a busier section of town.

11.30km – Finish at the Church of Our Lady of Mercy. You can continue along this road to cross the Puente Neuvo (New Bridge) and get lost in the labyrinthine Moorish Quarter!

 

Note


all notes on protected areas

Arrival by train, car, foot or bike


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Difficulty
moderate
Distance
11.3 km
Duration
3:30h
Ascent
402 m
Descent
236 m

Statistics

: h
 km
 m
 m
Highest point
 m
Lowest point
 m
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