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      our holidays > Walking Holidays > Spain & its Islands > Andalucía > Life in an Alpujarran Village

Life in an Alpujarran Village

Las Alpujarras – a land steeped in tradition
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Extend your stay
Why not add on a couple of nights to explore either Granada or Málaga, if flying via either of these cities? Both are fascinating, historic places in their own right and each have surprises in store for the visitor, from monumental architecture to hidden treasures and secret corners.
Short breaks
We also offer 3-night breaks here.
  About Las Alpujarras >Las Alpujarras owes its unique character in part to its geography and in part to man’s attempts to tame the landscape. High above towers the Sierra Nevada, Europe’s second highest mountain range, whose eternally snow-capped peaks contrast with the green of Las Alpujarras, the steep-sided river valleys on the Sierra’s southern slopes which run down towards the sea. Early settlers toiled to cut terraces into the slopes, and these were refined by the Moors, who developed an intricate irrigation system – still in use today – and introduced lemons, oranges, peaches and pomegranates. They also built the Berber-style villages so typical of the area – rectangular stone buildings with flat roofs and tall chimneys. Each season has its own charm, be it the spring almond blossom, the tinkling of mountain streams in summer, or the glorious autumn colours of the oaks and sweet chestnuts. The area is well known for its cured hams, which owe their superb flavour to the purity of the mountain air.
This Holiday in a nutshell
  • self-guided, single-centre walking holiday
  • feel part of the community, with insights into local ways of life
  • excellent regional gastronomy
  • rewarding and varied walking, route notes provided
  • hire car included

To the south-east of the Moorish city of Granada, the almond-coated hills of Las Alpujarras flank the southern slopes of the dramatic Sierra Nevada, the highest mountains in mainland Spain. This is an area of outstanding natural beauty, where characteristic whitewashed villages tumble down terraced valleys, and the ancient Moorish irrigation systems are a testament to the area’s long and colourful past. Here, you will find a hardy people who have worked these landscapes for centuries; theirs is a traditional way of life that seems untouched by the passage of time.

Mairena, the base for your holiday, is one such timeless Alpujarran village whose hard-working inhabitants adhere to a simple way of life, based upon a sound knowledge of the terrain and climate. Autumn heralds the fig, medlar and pomegranate harvest, after which the traditional farming cycle continues with preparations for the December olive harvest. By January, this is in full swing and the hillsides are dotted with families, armed with sticks to dislodge this stubborn, yet highly prized, fruit. February sees an explosion of colour as the almond trees burst into flower beneath impossibly blue skies; and so, into March, when the intoxicating scent of sweet, young oranges wafts down the valleys and the grapes in local vineyards begin to ripen under the warming sun.

Here, with the help of your knowledgeable hosts, Emma and David Illsley, you have the opportunity to become much more than just a spectator, immersing yourself in the gentle rhythms of the south. Follow David on a guided tour through the fruit trees of their nearby organic farm (finca); join in the olive harvest (December to January); meet Adolfo, the local olive-oil producer who sends his renowned produce to a top London restaurant; and marvel as the hotel cook, Soledad, lovingly recreates authentic Alpujarran dishes. Combine these unique experiences with scenic, varied walks along ancient paths linking other traditional villages, and you will gain a real insight into this alluring corner of southern Spain.

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 Average Temperatures & Rainfall
  J F M A M J J A S O N D
°C 11 12 15 17 22 27 32 32 28 21 15 11
mm 53 55 47 52 37 26 10 7 20 51 64 61

The average maximum daytime temperatures and monthly rainfall relate to the nearest weather station and are intended as a guide only.

On the upper slopes, temperatures will be cooler than those shown above. The almond groves blossom in mid-February, while the orange trees blossom in March. The best time for flowers is April to June.