A Road Trip through Andalusia Part 2 – Hiking in Parque del Estrecho

Tarifa is situation right next to the Natural Park del Estrecho, making it really the destination for sports lovers on land or water. If you have a spare 4 to 5 hours, no fear of cows and good foot wear, I’d definitely recommend the hike starting at the edge of town.

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Starting point is the end of the harbour, simple walk along the seafront, past the town center, the ferry arrival terminal and below the Plaza de Santa Maria. You can’t miss the entrance to the Natural Park, it’s all very well sign posted.

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The first 10 minutes take you through meadows and across a few small streams, until you get to the path that takes you back down to the coast. I can highly recommend this hike during spring, it’s simply beautiful. Everything is bathed in fresh shades of green and colourful flowers as far as the eye can reach. If you love photography as much as I do you’ll be in your elements.

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After having descended towards the coast, we hit our first obstacle – free-roaming cows. Now don’t get me wrong, we are not talking wild west bulls or torero-like beasts. Rather cow families, with their off-springs and the odd bull here and there. But still – terrifying, as they were way to interested in us! Hence, we decided to be very brave for the first hurdle but then very quickly went off-route and climbed down the cliffs to the beach where we continued the walk instead of on the signed path. It’s definitely doable and breath-taking scenery.

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The path overall is very well sign-posted and you can easily add you own flavour by going off-route here and there, climb a few hills or descend down to the sandy beach line. We stopped in a perfect little cove for our picnic and instead of doing a u-turn, climbed up the hills to the highest point to re-join an agricultural road taking us back to Tarifa.

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You’ll find a lot of evidence of Tarifa’s military importance on this hike, there are lots of trenched, bunkers as well as canon look-outs, which gives it quite an eery feel.

After 5 hours of solid walking, we happily returned with a bag full of stunning photos, 2,000 burned calories and a couple of achy legs. Highly recommend this way of exploring the natural beauty of south-west Spain!

 

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A Road Trip through Andalusia Part 1 – Tarifa

We are off-season travelers and wanted to explore a bit more of the area we will soon be calling our new home. So far, we’ve seen a lot of inland Andalucia north and east of Malaga – it’s beautiful mountains, desert landscapes, rough rocky national parks and turquoise lakes. What is still missing in my travel diary is the west coast of southern Spain.

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We started off in Malga and drove along the coast, past Marbella and Estepona, leaving all the resort towns with their bunkers of hotels behind us. Soon we could see the Rock of Gibraltar at the horizon and the streets were lined with ads for the 1 hour ferry trip to Morocco, Tangier. Again, we passed swiftly – our final destination was Tarifa.

Edged right at the most southern part of Spain’s coast and one of the world’s most popular destinations for wind sports, Tarifa definitely has the surfer flair of Biarritz, the wide, white sandy beaches of any Caribbean Island and the roaring waves of the Atlantic Ocean. Off-season traveling is awesome as it means you have most places to yourself. In Tarifa it meant we got whacked by hurricane gusts and waterfalls from heaven. Or we just chose the completely wrong weekend.

Our first 24 hours were spend inside, desperately trying to dry our wet jeans, trainers and coats in the humid Spanish air after a failed attempt to venture out to find dinner. After the first storm passed, we got 3 hours of mercy the next day to explore the stunning beach of Playa de Los Lances, the number 1 kite surfing spot in Europe.

After burning around 600 calories just trying to not get blown over during our 30 minutes beach “stroll”, we headed away from the cost into the older part of town, through the historic Puerta de Jerez (the only entrance through the old Moorish city walls that remains today of the four original ones) down cobbled streets. We passed and couldn’t resist one of Tarifa’s most famous bakeries, Confiteria La Tarifena, where we bought our diabetic-unfriendly lunch of 4 Spanish donuts, Moroccan Truffles and a mourish apple clafoutis.  The sugar tax would have gone through the roof but it was worth it.

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Tarifa has just about the right mix of chilled surfer town, sleepy seaside village and Mediterranean outdoor living with a slight touch of Morocco. The main cobbled street leading towards the Iglesia de San Mateo is lined with orange trees, authentic tapas bars and small restaurants. Just locals and us with our monster of a cake parcel – the perk of the off-season traveler.

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