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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.
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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