An hours drive north of Seville takes you into the heart of the Sierra Morena. This is a massive range containing many smaller sierras. The Sierra de Aracena is quite popular, but the lesser known range of the Sierra de Tentudia is rarely visited. The Tentudia sit on the border of Andalucia and Extremadura.
The Sierra de Tentudia are a range of hills and peaks north of the pleasant and rural town of Arroyomolinos de Le³n, in the province of Huelva. Bonales (1058m), Cerro Gordo (1037m) and Tentudia itself (1110m) are the main peaks. There are no dramatic cliffs and faces here though. The area is very rural and at first glance, much greener than you would expect this close to the sizzling heat of Sevilla! There are no foreigners living here and the pace of life is slow.
We met our friend and guide, Javier Aguirrebengoa, and we swapped the comfort and luxury of modern saloon cars for the rough and tough 20 year old Nissan Patrol 4WD with nearly 400,000k on the clock! Javier has just bought a cortijo up at 900m above the town. As soon as we left Arroyomolinos we knew we in for something special. The track deteriorated instantly into a up and down switchback of stones, dirt and dried mud. After an hour of being jerked up, down and from side to side we arrived at the “road” end.
Here was Javier’s pride and joy, a small cortijo set amid 70,000 sq m of land. One room was habitable, the others reserved strictly for sheep and goats. Night was falling by this time as we gathered firewood and started the first basic necessity, which was to create warmth. Very soon we had a roaring fire going.
The next basic was food and drink. Here Javier excelled with a feast of chorizo, local cheese, bread and tortilla washed down by some good red wine. Javier explained about the many local traditions hereabouts including the “Dehesa” system of self sufficiency. Dinner concluded with roasted banana with a honey and rum sauce!
Sleeping arrangements were simple. A wooden slated bed and mattress on the floor and some blankets. With good food inside us and the heat of the fire keeping the cold at bay we had in fact a surprisingly comfortable night.
Next morning dawned cold and misty. Javier’s donkey, Federika, woke us. Federika is at least 20 years old (like the 4WD!) and is used for moving firewood from Javier’s substantial holding to the cortijo. She also is used to carry water, building materials etc up from the town.
We were taken on a tour of his land. The whole area is rich in diversity and a throwback to the old days. Giant oak trees (Robles) and chestnuts dominate but there is also olive. Javier explained the uses that the land, trees and plants had in the olden days. He intends to bring back these ways to his land. Then it was a tour around some of the other towns in the area such as Cabeza de la Vaca and Calera de Leon.
I thoroughly recommend a trip to this interesting area. It is throwback to the days when self sufficiency in life was the norm not the exception. Javier is a lawer, speaks fluent english and is incredibly enthusiastic and knowledgeable about the area, its people, culture and eco-systems. If you wish to visit the area with him as your guide you can contact Javier Aguirrebengoa through ourselves, using our Contact Form.