This stunning loop walk from Zahara passes through two wild and remote valleys and enjoys several spectacular viewpoints which overlook the diverse landscapes of the area.
Zahara de La Sierra appears surrounded by a sea of olive groves which ripple over the undulating hills like a gentle ocean swell. The first section of the walk traverses this tamed countryside and passes isolated farmhouses.
After a few kilometres, the path leaves the olive groves behind and enters a small and wild valley. Even though the stream that courses through this valley may be dry much of the year, it still manages to inject life into the area. Keep your eyes peeled for deer, enjoy the pleasant shade of the native woodland, and smell the colourful flowers which bloom here. The path eventually enters a larger but equally impressive valley. Views stretch south to Garganta Verde, whose literal translation, ‘Green Throat’, refers poetically to the gaping canyon.
Zahara de la Sierra is a charming village to spend the night. The whitewashed houses cascade down the rocky outcrop like a wedding cake, and the village is crowned by a castle and tower; be sure to climb up to enjoy far-reaching views. Enjoy a meal and drink in one of the restaurants which have a terrace overlooking the azure waters of the reservoir sprawled across the valley.
Some of the paths may be overgrown with brambles or gorse, so you might prefer to bring trousers and a long-sleeved shirt with you to prevent any scratches.
Part of this footpath crosses through a 'coto privado de caza' - a private hunting area. The hunting season is roughly 3-months long, starting in early September, and only on the weekends. The footpath remains open during this time and your walking is unlikely to be affected, but be sure not to deviate from the path.
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.
Part of this footpath crosses through a 'coto privado de caza' - a private hunting area. The hunting season is roughly 3-months long, starting in early September, and only on the weekends. The footpath remains open during this time and is unlikely to be affected, but be sure not to deviate from the path.
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.
The path is overgrown in places today, sometimes with brambles and gorse, so you might prefer to wear trousers rather than shorts.
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.
Points of Interest
Church of Santa Maria de la Mesa
The church was constructed in 1755 with several of Spain’s important architects assisting in the designs. Its eye-catching design with a pink entrance, and blue and white tiles, is typical of the Sevilla-style and makes a memorable contrast to the whitewashed houses. There is a small parish museum inside.
Castle of Zahara de la Sierra
Throughout the 15th century, Zahara de la Sierra was on the northern frontier of the Muslim Kingdom. A network of outposts and fortresses helped defend this border with Zahara occupying a key strategic location. You can climb up to the 14th century Torre del Homenaje to enjoy both the superb and far-reaching views, and also connect with this historical relic. It has been recognised as a ‘Bien de Interés Cultural’ – Spain’s recognition of important cultural assets.
Food and Drink
After leaving Zahara there is nowhere to buy food or drink, or to refill water bottles today, so be sure to carry sufficient provisions with you.