THE Serranía de Ronda and the Parques Naturales de Grazalema, Los Alcornocales and the Sierra de las Nieves offer a wide variety of terrains, ranging from green valleys, to barren mountains, to forests of cork oaks, chestnuts and almonds, to olive groves and to snow-capped mountains. With pretty pueblos blancos and remote farmhouses dotted about. It’s so hard to choose, but here are my final ten in alphabetical order:
Los Alcornocales. The area between Cortes de la Frontera and El Colmenar is cork oak country. A journey through a wilderness of half-shaven trees followed by a drink and/or snack by the station in El Colmenar/Estación de Gaucín.
Cueva de la Pileta, Benaoján. A speleological treat, this cave ranks with more famous ones in France and northern Spain. 30 minutes from Ronda via Benaoján.
Genal Valley. This spectacular run down to Gaucín takes you past a string of pretty pueblos blancos, including Atajate, Benadalid, Benalauría, Algatocín and Benarrabá. On a clear day you can see Gibraltar and the mountains of North Africa.
Guadiaro Valley. This run through stunning scenery takes in Benaoján, Jimera de Líbar, Cortes de la Frontera and El Colmenar. Either re-trace your steps or return via Gaucín. This route takes you through spectacular and varied scenery and lasts a half day or so.
Mr Henderson’s Walk. Park your car at Benaoján Estación and take the beautiful walk alongside the river Guadiaro and the railway line to Algeciras as far as Jimera de Líbar Estación. Allow 2 hours. Get a drink or a meal there and catch the train back to your car. Named after the Scottish engineer who built the railway.
Montejaque – Grazalema – Zahara de la Sierra – Setenil de las Bodegas. This is a relaxing circular tour from Ronda through the Parque Natural de Grazalema. These four pueblos blancos (white villages) are very different from each other and all four can be visited easily in a half day. This is one of our favourite routes.
Parauta – Cartajima – Júzcar – Alpandeire. There are several walks between these villages, but a car trip is also very worthwhile. Júzcar is the blue village, made famous in 2011 as the village chosen by Sony for a publicity film about the Smurfs.
Sierra de las Nieves. Drive out of Ronda along the El Burgo road and as far as Yunquera. Spectacular scenery. This parque natural is aptly named as the mountains have snow from November to March.
Villaluenga del Rosario – Benaocaz – Ubrique – Cortes de la Frontera. Yet another route with ever-changing scenery. Villaluenga is the highest pueblo blanco in Cádiz province. Benaocaz boasts an abandoned village, the 8th-century Barrio Nazarí, located above the current settlement.
Virgen de la Ermita. Drive or walk along the track from the Algeciras road out of Ronda and see the very best views of Ronda perched upon its cliff. The Arab hermitage hewn out of the rock is interesting too.
There are many other interesting visits around Ronda. What about Acinipo, the Roman ruins of Old Ronda, the pretty village of El Gastor, the balcony of the sierras, or La Ruta de Los Castaños, a beautiful journey through the chestnut trees around Pujerra and Igualeja?
Please post your suggestions in the comments box below.