Sunday 12 - Saturday 18 May 2019
The Sierra Nevada is famous for its snow capped peaks and deep valleys – a true walkers’ paradise. But there’s even more to the area than this. Look up and you might see a Golden Eagle soaring in a vast blue sky. Look down and the ground may be carpeted with alpine flowers, home to many exotic butterflies. Look around and you could make eye contact with a Spanish Ibex or a glossy-coated fox.
With over 2000 plant, 60 bird and 270 insect species the diversity of the wildlife in the Sierra Nevada is staggering. This is mainly due to large differences in altitude (from 500m in the lower market towns of the Alpujarras to nearly 3,000m in the high summits), and climate (the hot summers of the lower Alpujarras contrast with virtually arctic conditions in the winter peaks).
To make sure you don’t miss these wonders of nature, writer Chris Stewart has teamed up with Richard Hartley, Kiersten Rowland and Andrew Philips from Spanish Highs, one of the top guiding companies in the area. They will lead you on five days of walking in varied habitats, from high mountains to coastal wetlands. For the past 14 years they have been studying the wildlife of the Sierra Nevada and Alpujarras, and its habitats. Their knowledge and enthusiasm is unsurpassed.
- Walking in the Sierra Nevada National Park: look out for eagles, ibex, alpine gentians, Apollo butterflies and more. Our walk starts high and descends gently along mountain footpaths with their stunning views, ending with a stroll through shady pine forests.
- Birdlife in the Wetlands walk: near Granada lies an unspoilt area of wetlands, a haven for birds such as the marsh harrier and the purple heron. Our walk follows the trail of the “Mamut” (mammoth remains were found here) through the wetlands, stopping at hides along the way for birdwatching.
- Heart of the Alpujarras walk: we'll travel back through time as we follow ancient footpaths and mule tracks from village to historic village, through almond and chestnut groves and centuries-old terraced meadows with beautiful mountain scenery.
- A Walk through the Woods: from the village of Pitres we walk through chestnut and oak forests, taking in the Rio Bermejo waterfalls before descending back to Pitres, and an ice-cold beer at the local bar.
- Riverside walking: a gentle walk along the Rio Guadalfeo river valley, past olive groves and oleanders, against a backdrop of pine-clad mountains. Look out for butterflies, dragonflies, golden orioles, crag martins and kestrels nesting in the cliffs.
(Please note we may have to modify the schedule due to weather conditions or other circumstances beyond our control.)
What you might see:
Plant life: there are 2100 catalogued plants of which 80 are endemic including the Sierra Chamomile (Artemisia Granatensis) and extremely rare Sierra Nevada Poppy (Papaver Lapeyrousianum). We’ll visit the borreguiles (a fragile and unique ecosystem which is home to many of the endemic species including for example Gentians (Gentiana Boryi), Thin-spurred Butterwort (Pinguicula Nevadensis) and Gravel Birdsfoot (Lotus Glareosus).
Birds: Over 60 bird species inhabit the Sierra Nevada. Commonly seen birds of prey include the Golden Eagle, Bonelli’s Eagle, Short-toed and Booted Eagles. Kestrels, Peregrine Falcons and Goshawks are also frequently spotted, as well as the Griffon Vulture. You may even catch a glimpse of a Lammergeier as these rare vultures have been successfully re-introduced in a neighbouring mountain range.
At lower altitudes the skies are alive with Bee-eaters and Golden Orioles. Other species include the Blue Rock Thrush, Black Wheatear, Hoopoe and Sardinian Warbler, to name but a few.
Mammals: these include the Spanish Ibex, Fox, Wild Cat, Stone Marten, Genet, Snow Vole and Wild Boar.
Butterflies and insects: there are 270 unique insect species, with over 100 endemic to these mountains. Of the 120 butterflies recorded, some of the most exceptional are the Spanish Festoon, the Sierra Nevada Blue and the Parnassius Apollo (subsp nevadensis).
Walking: level of challenge
The walking is moderate in standard but taken at a slow pace to make the most of all there is to be seen. The walks will suit anyone used to regular countryside walking, with a reasonable degree of fitness.
Prices - 2018
€1,035 (euros) per person in a double or twin. €1,235 (euros) for single accommodation. All bedrooms are en suite.
The price includes: bed and breakfast accommodation, picnics and lunches, dinners, wines, excursions, local transport and guides. It does not include: flights, airport transfers, some refreshments.
Please note: the walking groups are small so early booking is strongly recommended.
For further information and bookings please email Anne at Casa Ana or call:
Tel: 0034 678 298 497
See also "Winter Walking" and "Walking with Chris Stewart" guided walking holiday.
"We joined a small group for a themed week of 'Walking with Nature' and it turned out all of us had stayed previously at Casa Ana… Anne and her staff greeted and treated us as friends. The meals were excellent (we had a fully catered package) and worthy of several Michelin stars.
We were taken out each day for walks which explored different natural habitats by guides who were friendly, very knowledgeable and who understood and encouraged our need to stop and take photographs. Some days we had two or even three guides with us and all necessary transport was provided. The setting, the service and the friendliness of all the staff make this a place I would return to again and again."
Janet T, June 2017
"For our third visit to Casa Ana we joined a small group for a Walking with Nature holiday in one of the most beautiful parts of Spain. Although only a group of 7, we had one, two or three guides every day. They were all very knowledgeable and helpful. It feels like visiting family when we return to Casa Ana as the staff are all so friendly. The atmosphere is very peaceful and the food absolutely fabulous (thank you Natalie and Christoph); we can't wait for next year!"
Liz G, June 2017
"Hi Richard – Just returned from a great weeks walking in The Alpujarras. We have had a wonderful time thanks in no small part to Andy, Kirsten and yourself. Great experience, grand company and fantastic photos. All of your input very much appreciated."
Gerald B, September 2016
"Hi Kiersten & Richard, just wanted to thank you both for your most wonderful support & also my enjoyment on the recent Alpujarra walks!"
Alena J, September 2016
We have had a wonderful time
Gerald B, Sept 2016
Photo: Simon Roth