Walks in Cazorla

The Sierra de Cazorla or more accurately the Sierras de Cazorla, Segura and Las Villas are located some 130 kilometers west of Murcia and their western edge is close to the town of Ubeda. At nearly 210,000 hectares this region is the biggest natural wild region in Spain and was declared a Natural Park in 1989.

This limestone region comprises a spectacular landscape of pine clad mountains and sheer valleys in which crystal clear streams flow. The highest point is Pico Empanada rising to 2107 meters above sea level. There are lakes and reservoirs and the important Gualdalquivir and Segura Rivers rise here. The topography limits major road access throughout the park but there are tracks threading their way through the most stunning countryside that vehicles of the all terrain type could cope with. Occasionally Navas or open grassy areas are seen and these provide grazing for the Ibex and red and roe deer that abound in the park along with the wild pig that is making a strong recovery after years of over hunting.

The flora is very much Mediterranean with a large variety of pine trees and some holm oak. Vegetation includes rosemary, thyme, cistus, llentrisca, and wild lavender. It is a wonderful area for bird life and amongst the many raptors we may see Egyptian vultures, several varieties of eagle, red kites, goshawks and peregrine falcons.

The main gateway town to the region is Cazorla, a charming old town some 45 kilometers east of Ubeda and close to the massive area of olive tree plantations, which produce, on a giant scale, the famous local olive oil. Here all the expected facilities can be found and it makes an excellent base for hiking in the Natural Park. Between it and the nearby Iruela there is ample accommodation available to suit all budgets.

The recommended time for hiking in this lovely area is Spring and Autumn/early winter. If hiking in the summer months is unavoidable, it would be best to miss the hottest hours of the day and perhaps choose walks with lesser climbs involved.

Jim Arymar



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