Week long all inclusive walking and hiking holidays based at Finca Estrellas located in the Axarquia region of Southern Andalucia and one hour NE of Malaga. Available October to May inclusive. Take advantge of cheap mid-week flights and start your holiday mid-week!
Day 1 – 2 Villages and local Bodega
Departure Time: 10am (by foot from Finca Estrellas)
Distance: 12km/7.5 miles
Maximum Elevation: 825m/2706ft
In the course of our walk this morning, we’ll be skirting the upper edges of the Natural Park and experiencing some spectacular views of the coast and the nearby villages – we might even catch a glimpse of the Rif Mountains in Morocco across the sea.
After breakfast, we’ll start our day by taking a wander over to Canillas de Albaida where we’ll learn a little more about our nearest village, its people and its history before embarking on our first gentle exploration of the very special landscape that surrounds it.
Today’s walk is a reasonably easy introduction to the kind of terrain we’ll be encountering throughout the week, with just a wee bit of a climb to get us up to and out of the village. Please don’t let these put you off! Once the climbing’s done the rest of the walk is fairly level except for a further short rise up to our lunch spot. By tomorrow you’ll be surprised at how much you will have acclimatised and today we will be taking it very easy with plenty of opportunity to stop and catch our breath – and admire the view, of course!
We should reach an unusual spot known as the Alberdini by lunchtime, where, weather permitting, we will enjoy a light meal ‘al fresco’ with the village of Frigiliana (once voted the prettiest in Spain) in the distance and the rugged Almijara mountains sweeping down to the Mediterranean beyond.
After lunch, we drop back down to the village of Competa (pop. 3600), Canillas’ bigger, bolder sister, and visit some of her beautiful “hermitas” or shrines , her unusual village cemetery, its prettiest streets and squares and its very lovely 15th century parish church with its unique clock tower based on a 13th century minaret.
We then make our way back towards Canillas via an old mule path that shadows what is now the principle road connecting the two villages. On our way, we pass Bodegas Almijara where we will have an opportunity to tour this simple winery, sample some of their Jarel wines and learn a little about how muscatel wines are made in the area using unique methods traditional to the Axarquia. Grape growing is still the single biggest agricultural activity in this valley and Maria and her family have been producing wines in the time-honoured Axarquian way for generations. The wines are accompanied by tapas of local cheese, olives, “pasas” (raisins) and marinated fruits for an authentically Andalusian tasting experience.
Then the walk back to Finca Estrellas in time for a relax and freshen-up before dinner.
Our meal this evening will be at the friendly Bar Cerezo in Canillas, where Paco, Isaac and the rest of the family serve excellent local fare in a welcoming setting.
For today’s Walk, you will need:
- 1 litre of water and some snacks to nibble (these can be purchased in Canillas in the morning)
- Comfortable walking boots or shoes
- Hat or cap, warm fleece and rain gear (just in case)
- Cards for ATM if required (the only cash machines in the area are in Competa, so today’s visit is an opportunity to stock up)
- Cash for any shopping you might like to do
Day 2 – Moorish Villages Walk
Departure Time: 10am (by foot from Finca Estrellas)
Max Dist.: 16km/9.9 miles
Max Elevation: 859m/2820ft
Today’s walk takes us along traditional pathways that have long connected the ancient Moorish Villages of Canillas de Albaida and Salares (pop. 220). We return to Finca Estrellas by a different route that offers some panoramic views of Competa and beyond.
Our itinerary starts directly from the Finca and it’s not long before we drop gently down into a fertile and productive valley laden with olives, vines, sweet-chestnuts and oranges.
From this valley we start a slow but steady climb using dirt tracks and trails that wind easily upwards through olive groves and vineyards until we reach some pine woods at the crest of the hill near a point known as Puerto Del Cruz del Muerto (“Cross of the Dead” sounds ominous, but in reality this is very pretty spot with some fabulous views!).
We catch our breath by a ‘deposito’ (water tank) with a glorious outlook over the white village of Sedella and La Maroma Mountain. We then begin our gradual descent to the ancient village of Salares, stopping at the ruin of a lovely old ‘venta’ or inn, where we can enjoy another little breather whilst drinking in the gorgeous scenery.
From the venta, our path to Salares takes us through a beautiful old wood of Holm oaks and Mediterranean pines and soon we can hear the Salares River gurgling below us. There are one or two slippy patches where care needs to be taken, but all in all this is a glorious woodland walk and quite a contrast to what we have seen up to this. At the end of our path, we cross a lovely old Moorish bridge and enter this very special ‘pueblo blanco’ that still looks and feels much as it would have done in the 13th century.
After a wander through this gorgeous little village with its perfect Mudejar minaret, we take a ‘tapas’ break for lunch at a typical village bar (simple and basic, but very charming) and recharge our batteries for the walk home. Theo, the bar owner, serves a hearty selection of rustic local dishes. This is simple home-cooking at its most typical – and most delicious!
Once we’ve finished lunch, our route back involves a shortish, sharpish climb followed by a long gradual descent with far-reaching views over the Sayalonga valley back to the Finca and home.
Later, having rested and refreshed, we head for Restaurante Albaida in Canillas for this evening’s meal and entertainment. Sunday nights at the Albaida are something of an institution in the area, because this is when gifted souls who can sing or play get together to make some great music and if you’ve brought a talent with you, then please do feel free to join in – the more the merrier!
For the Moorish Villages Walk, you will need:
- 2 litres of water (you can stock up again in Salares)
- A mid-morning snack (and a bag/container for rubbish)
- Comfortable walking boots
- Hat, sunscreen, & wet weather gear (be prepared for anything and everything!)
- Walking pole (If you have one – some bits of our route are tricky and a pole may help you negotiate these)
Day 3 Cerro Verde
Departure Time: 10am (We will be driven from Finca Estrellas to the starting point of today’s walk)
Max Dist.: 15km/9 miles
Max Elevation: 1346m/4419ft
Today, our walk will take us to the top of Cerro Verde (1,346m/4,419ft), a peak similar in height to Ben Nevis in Scotland where we will enjoy an al fresco lunch on the summit. Getting there involves a good climb of some 726m / 2383ft, but we will take it steady with plenty of breaks to admire the views and rest our legs. We may even spot some ibex (large wild goats), wild boar and eagles as we pass through some of the most secluded and beautiful parts of our itinerary.
First of all, we will be driven to ‘La Fabrica De La Luz’, a lovely campsite and designated picnic area right in the heart of the Natural Park.
From La Fabrica, we will follow the fast-flowing Cuevas river up its steep-sided valley, crossing the river several times (carry spare socks in case of unintentional paddling!) using a route that has long serviced the remote fincas in the valley and is also used to access Puerto de Competa, the lowest point at which these mountains can be crossed to enter the province of Granada.
Our path will take us past terraces of sweet chestnuts and almond trees – and an isolated farmhouse where we will encounter some barking (but friendly) dogs!
It is at this point that we should begin to see one of the highlights of this lovely walk come into view across the valley. The Honeymaker’s Cave, once home to beehives (hence the name), now houses a large herd of goats and sheep and is a startling sight surrounded as it is by its battlements of craggy stone.
We continue on up the river valley, climbing steadily and passing more chestnuts and rare cork oaks before turning right across the river to begin our first steepish ascent of the day.
Before long, we come to two short sections that require a little scrambling up over some large rocks, but nothing too serious – more fun than difficult!
After a while, we meet a gravel track made for forestry and fire-service access and we will follow this steadily upwards for about 30 minutes before we branch off it again for our ‘push’ to the top, cresting a ridge with panoramic views on either side, before our last little climb takes us to the very peak.
The views from the top of Cerro Verde are spectacular and certainly make all that climbing worth it. From our lofty picnic point, we will be able to see many of the spots we visited in the first few days and get a true sense of the size and scale of the even larger mountains beyond.
Our descent by the opposite slope will take us through pine woods and wild flowers back to La Fabrica where we started and where “light refreshments” will be waiting by the banks of the river!
This evening’s meal with some exciting carribean flavours will be cooked for us at Finca Estrellas by Remy.
For the Cerro Verde Walk, you will need:
- 2 to 3 litres of water
- A picnic lunch (and a bag/container for rubbish)
- Comfortable walking boots
- Hat & Sunscreen
- Wet weather gear and something dry to sit on if the ground is damp for our picnic
- Warm fleece or jumper
- Small towel and spare socks in case of wet feet
- Walking poles may come in handy on the descent and crossing river
Day 4 – Free day: More walking, Trips to Granada, The Alhambra, Malaga etc, can be arranged, or just relax around the finca.
Day 5 El Lucero
Departure Time: 10am (Transport will take us from Finca Estrellas to Puerto Blanquillo, the start of today’s walk)
Distance: 11km/7 miles
Maximum Elevation: 1,769 m/5,808 ft
Today, weather conditions permitting, we take on a truly exciting challenge that will take us to the greatest heights of this holiday – nearly 1800 meters. El Lucero (the Morning Star) is one massive piece of Dolomite marble, pointing sharply to the sky, but the views from the summit are spectacular and the surrounding landscape is awe-inspiring in its jagged majesty.
We are driven to Puerto Blanquillo (1200m) and the subsequent climb from here to Puerto de Competa (1400m) starts on a loose marble surface with a fairly steep incline, but it does level out to much easier going after 20 minutes or so. The top section just before reaching the Granada border at Puerto de Competa will take us through a jumble of fallen rocks, but it isn’t too tricky and after that we drop gently down again into a valley that actually wouldn’t be out of place in Britain with its deciduous trees, brambles and bracken.
This valley contains another surprise as well, but we’ll save that one until you spot it! This quiet valley with its winding dirt track then takes us to the foot of the Raspen de los Moriscos (the Scratch of the Moors), which is the principle route to the summit of El Lucero (the other involves ropes and spikes!). It is also our way into a world that on a bad day seems straight out of The Lord of The Rings (Mordor, in case you’re wondering!).
The Raspen is a narrow, stony path through a truly dramatic landscape and while it is reasonably long (2 hours up) and occasionally quite steep, as far as high mountain routes go this one really isn’t too bad, with only the final section presenting any issues regarding steep drops and loose surfaces. At 1500m, there is a spot with some shelter where those who would rather not tackle the final ascent can wait while the rest continue to the top – the views are pretty stunning even from here. If it’s particularly windy or visibility isn’t good though, then it is safer for everyone to only
climb this far. El Lucero is not the place to be in bad weather!
The very top of the mountain has the ruins of an abandoned look-out post where we can take some shelter and also leave a short written message in a letterbox provided by the Park Authorities for the purpose – so get some profound thoughts (i.e., ones worthy of leaving to posterity) going on the way up!
We return to Puerto Blanquillo by the same route, where we will be met by our transport and taken back to base for a well-earned rest before our gourmet chef, Kritz, serves up another fabulous evening meal at Finca Estrellas.
For the El Lucero Walk, you will need:
- 2.5 litres of water
- Sturdy walking boots
- A picnic lunch & snacks
- Warm layers & rain gear
- Hat and gloves
- Walking pole (if you have one)
- Pen and paper (for note to leave at the top!)
Day 6 Sayalonga and Bodega Bentomitz
Departure Time: 10am (By foot from Finca Estrellas)
Max Dist.: 16km/9.9 miles
Max Elevation: 859m/2820ft
From Finca Estrellas, today’s route takes us first to Puerto de los Carboneros (Pass of the Charcoal Burners), high above the villages of Canillas and Archez. From here, we will follow the ridge of the hills south towards the sea, passing through highly cultivated land, mainly given over to vineyards. These vineyards are significant as our final destination today is a relatively new endeavour that has revolutionised vine-growing and wine-making in the area.
Bodegas Bentomiz seeks to produce high-quality modern wines from the area’s traditional vineyards. To date, they have been exceptionally successful in this ambition and have won much international acclaim. Bodegas Bentomiz wines are now served at many Michelin-starred restaurants in the UK (under the distinctive Ariyanas label) as well as at acclaimed restaurants here in Spain and across Europe. They have recently entered the American market also.
Our hilltop walk to the Bodega offers us spectacular views of seven white villages and we will be stopping at one of them, Sayalonga, for a light lunch before visiting the winery. But to reach Sayalonga village, we will first descend into the Sayalonga valley, a sub-tropical zone where mangoes, bananas, medlars and avocados are grown and then we have to cross the Sayalonga River – and the only way to do this is take off all footwear and paddle!
After walking for a few hours, this paddle through cool water is wonderfully refreshing (if a little chilly…) and it can be hard to put the boots on again for the final ascent to the village, but Sayalonga is worth it. Sayalonga is delightful village of immaculate white houses and flower-filled balconies. It also has some unusual features like the famous round cemetery and the narrowest street in the Axarquia.
Lunch in Sayalonga will be eaten in the pretty square (hopefully ‘al fresco’) and should set us up nicely for our final push to the Bodega.
Once at Bodegas Bentomiz, owner Clara will take us on a tour of the operation and demonstrate how modern fine wines are now being made in this unique valley that has long been such a bastion of traditional mine-making and vine-growing. And, of course, she will also be offering delicious samples of her products for us to try!
When we have finished our tour of the Bodega, transport will return us to Canillas in plenty of time to pack for tomorrow’s departure and to relax before our final evening together on this holiday.
Tonight’s farewell dinner will in the Cerezo Bar in Canillas, a lovely spot to spend our final evening together and remember what we hope will have been a wonderful week in this special hidden corner of Spain.
For the Sayalonga & Bodegas Bentomiz walk, you will need:
- 2 litres of water
- Comfortable walking boots
- Hat and sun-screen
-Small towel and spare socks (in case of wet feet!)
- Walking pole (If you have one – useful crossing river)
-Cash/cards in case you might like to buy some wine!
Your Accommodation – “Finca Estrellas”
Finca means ‘country house” and estrellas means ‘stars’. Translated literally as ‘House of Stars” Finca Estrellas is a newly built 300sq metre house designed to reflect the rustic and Moorish influences that abide in the area.
There are 4 individually designed ensuite bedrooms with twin beds in each. Each bedroom has top quality air-conditioning/heating units, ceiling fans and central heating. There is ample wardrobe and drawer space, bedside cabinets with reading lamps and hairdryers.
All bathrooms have walk-in showers and have underfloor heating for the winter months. There is also a toilet/washbasin on the ground floor.
When the weather is not conducive to eating outdoors the indoor dining area comfortably seats 10 people.
The living room with 42″ flatscreen and Freeview TV and HD recorder seats 10 people on period style leather sofas and there are various books and games.
There is over 1,000 sq metres of outdoor space including a Moorish courtyard, a Fountain courtyard, a covered pergola with hammocks and various nooks and crannies to hide away and read if you want to. There is a covered terrace between the house and the pool with a dining table and comfortable wicker furniture with a low table. Around the pool there is plenty of room for 10 sunbeds. Behind and all around the house there are many plants and garden areas.
Andalucia is famous for its ‘White Villages’ and Finca Estrellas is very fortunate in being a short distance from 4 of them, all very different in character.
Canillas de Albaida is a very pretty village perched on a hillside just a 3 minute drive or 20 minute (steep) walk from the Finca. There are flower-filled corners and balconies everywhere and livestock (including mules) are still kept below houses. Canillas boasts several excellent restaurants and bars.
Archez is a very attractive village with strong Moorish roots. This influence is most in evidence at the church of Nuestra Senora de la Encarnacion with its remarkable fourteenth century tower which is the minaret of an earlier mosque, it is one of the best examples from this period.
A white huddle of boxes tumbling down the hillside, surrounded by vineyards, the cosmopolitan village of Competa is just a 10 minute drive (or a lovely 45min walk) from the Finca. It has many bars, restaurants, hairdressers, shops of all kinds and several banks.
A complete contrast to the much larger Competa, Salares is a very small and quiet village with only 3 bars that serve snacks and no restaurants. It is very picturesque and is only 10 minutes drive from the Finca. It feels like it is stuck in the past and has not changed for centuries, like Canillas people still keep chickens and mules in the ground floor of their houses.
Option 1 – groups between 2 and 4 persons
€285 per person per week based on 2 sharing a double or twin, self guided. €80 a day total guide hire.
Option 2 – group min 6 max 8
Cost per person sharing a twin or double room: €495 for 7 nights
to include: Accommodation, breakfast, airport transfers, Guide and transport to start of walks. There is an honesty bar for soft and alcoholic drinks.
Option 3 – group min 6 max 8. All Inclusive (Recommended)
Cost per person sharing a twin or double room: €675 for 7 nights
to include: Accommodation, Guide, all transport to start of walks, airport transfers, restaurants, all meals except for free day, 3 at local restaurants, 3 at the finca with live music on one night. There is an honesty bar for soft and alcoholic drinks.
Common to both price options:
- 7 nights luxury accommodation in an ensuite room (double or twin), in a large beautiful finca
- All transport to and from Malaga airport, restaurants and villages
- 5 days walking with guide
- Flight not included
- Non participating partners welcomed
At an altitude of 600ft Finca Estrellas is located in the Axarquia region of Southern Andalucia, one hour NE of Malaga Airport and 30 minutes from the coast.
View Axarquia in a larger map