Wednesday, 28 April 2010

La Garganta Verde.....

.....the Green Throat, a walk in the protected area of the Grazalema Natural Park. Walking in the park is strictly controlled to protect the natural habitat and as such we had to obtain a permit, which we did from the tourist office in Zahara de la Sierra. They faxed a permit request and details of my passport to the tourist office in El Bosque, who in time duly issued us a permit by return fax. Good job that we did as twenty minutes into the walk we met up with an official of the Junta who asked to see it. The photo above, which can be enlarged when clicked upon, shows a house in the centre of the picture that is the starting point of the walk.

By we, I mean myself and Dan, our friend who is visiting Olvera for a few days. The walk starts about three or four kms from Zahara, on the CA-9104 road heading into the mountains towards Grazalema. Initially, the path is a pleasant uphill stroll for about a kilometre before descending steeply the 400 metres to the valley floor. The ultimate aim is to visit "La Ermita", a pink cave at the bottom. Before starting the descent, a sign indicated that it was a nesting area for birds and silence was requested.

Dan surveying the spectacular scenery.

In places the path was very narrow and extreme care was required. Good footware and a sturdy walking stick are definately recommended.

Some of the flora along the way

Although the descent is 400 metres, it is over a length of about 3.5 kms via a very windy and in places extremely steep gravel path. One of the many caves along the way though not our final destination.

The scenery is stunning. Can you imagine the work required in creating this stairway !!.
The wildlife around us was equally stunning. Eagles and vultures were flying over and swooping below us on the walk, flying into their nests amongst the rocky crags. We also heard but did not see what we assumed to be an eagle owl. We also saw a wild Ibex, mountain goat but I was too slow to get a picture before it disappeared into the undergrowth. Fantastic.

We did expect to see a river or stream at the bottom of the gorge but it was completely dry. Here a couple in front of us getting assistance in clambering over the rocks and boulders in the riverbed.

A triumphant me, pleased that we had reached the bottom, standing next to the sign indicating that the "Ermita de la Garganta Verde", the Pink Cave was only another 250 metres. Thank god.
The walk down had taken us just over two and a half hours.

A well earned rest before exploring the Pink cave.

The cave was actually more of a huge alcove, cut into the rock by presumably thousands of year of water erosion creating stalactites and stalagmites all over. My pictures do not do justice to its beauty and the fantastic pink colour of the stone. Absolutely fantastic.

Not very clear but to gauge the size of the opening to the cave entrance, Dan is stood right at the bottom, centre left of the picture. Click on the picture to enlarge it.

We sat for an hour eating our rolls, gulping our water and listening to the birdsong and the cries of eagles and vultures bouncing off the canyon walls.

The gorge did continue further on but by this stage we were trying to prepare ourselves for the long uphill climb back to civilisation.

Although the river was dry, there were a few rock pools around. The picture right shows how the river has eroded the rock to a smooth surface finish while the spider below was happy to bathe in the pool.

We started the climb out of the gorge at about 4pm knowing that it would be a hard slog back to the top. I don't profess to be a walker, the streets of Olvera are a big enough challenge, but I was really pleased to have completed this walk and in the company of Dan who was more than patient with my huffing and puffing and constant stops for breath on the uphill return. Definately worth doing though as the natural, unspoilt scenery was absolutely stunning.
Apologies for the number of pictures but it's probably not a place I will ever return to.

Water leak !!

Just passing by the beautiful pueblo of Zahara this morning on our way to the Garganta Verde (see next post) and we saw the rare event of water from the reservoir escaping over the sluice, a good indication of high water and testament to the amount of rain we've had this winter.

Driven by a swell created by the strong breeze, the water was gushing over, something we may not see again for a few years.

good to see it so full though. Hopefully no risk of water shortages for quite a while

Sunday, 25 April 2010

This is more like it....

....25.5°C, a pleasant breeze and blue skies. Dare we hope that consistent sunny days are with us at last!!.
We went for a walk this afternoon stopping off at the peñon "El Cerretillo", the new park area off Calle Victoria.

There are quite a few seats in the park, all offering great views over Olvera and beyond.

Looking down upon the Recinto Ferial, the fairground area.

A pleasant window display on Calle Garduñera.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

El Mercadillo

The day has started off quite misty though promising to warm up really well. The skies were clearing as we walked the short distance to the regular Saturday market.

So just a few pictures of the general scene of the market held just below the castle.

Looking towards the ruined castle at Pruna.

Having bought our fix of liquorice and other assorted sweeties, we sat for a while in the plaza that overlooks the play area of the Jardines de la Victoria.

The view looking up and down a quiet Calle Llana, the temperature indicator showing just over 19°C.

Tomorrow, we'll take a trip to the craft market held near to Ronda in the hope of finding some more reading material. Usually, there is a stall there selling second hand books so hopefully we might be in luck.