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Hiking Between White-Washed Villages in the Breathtaking Spanish Mountain Area of Alpujarra

I am a Norwegian writer with careers within art, design, history, tourism and journalism. My second home is in a small village in Spain.

Walking From Pampaneira to Bubión

Spain is so much more than beautiful welcoming beaches, everlasting sun, busy shopping streets, noisy bars and mass tourism. Not far away from the noisy tourist areas there are still bits of the real Spain to be found: a Spain that has held on to its ancient customs and rich culture.

One area that invites days of recreation in quiet and scenic surroundings are the three small villages of Pamapaneira, Bubión and Capileira. Like pearls on a string, they cling side by side to the steep hillsides of the Poqueira Valley in Alpujarra.

Beautiful Alpujarra

Pampaneira, one of the three small mountain villages in the area of the beautiful Barranco de Poquira, is located at about 1,060 meters above sea level.

Pampaneira, one of the three small mountain villages in the area of the beautiful Barranco de Poquira, is located at about 1,060 meters above sea level.

A narrow street of Bubión.

A narrow street of Bubión.

The area has many hiking trails from which to choose.

The area has many hiking trails from which to choose.

Stunning views of the region with its pure nature and mountain landscapes.

Stunning views of the region with its pure nature and mountain landscapes.

Hiking in the green cultural landscape between the villages.

Hiking in the green cultural landscape between the villages.

An old water fountain reminds us of bygone times.

An old water fountain reminds us of bygone times.

The silhouette of Bubión and surrounding trees against the skyline. The mountain village is located at 1,350 meters above sea level.

The silhouette of Bubión and surrounding trees against the skyline. The mountain village is located at 1,350 meters above sea level.

Figs.

Figs.

Typical Berber architecture.

Typical Berber architecture.

Traditional, colorful handwoven rugs for sale.

Traditional, colorful handwoven rugs for sale.

Delicious tapas.

Delicious tapas.

Beautiful colorful flowers everywhere.

Beautiful colorful flowers everywhere.

Amazing Views

Most people arrive at the villages by car. A narrow winding road takes you up the hill from the lowlands. As villages and evergreen fields disappear beneath you, a new world with Spain's highest mountains opens up in front of you; La Veleta and Sierra Nevada with Mulhacén.

As you approach, you see the houses like pieces of white sugar, closely intertwined with steep, narrow paved streets.

To experience both the villages and nature, nothing is better than traveling on foot. Park the car at the first village and go hiking. Make sure you have good shoes, either sneakers or hiking shoes. Once inside the village, choose the streets that take you up and out of the village. Eventually, on the outskirts of the village, simple wooden signs that show you the way to Bubión will appear. Or let the tower of the church in Bubión show you the way. You cannot get lost.

The distance between Pampaneira and Bubión is just a bit more than a kilometer along a sometimes lofty path. But since it's steep, take your time with good breaks in between: not just to rest your feet and catch your breath, but just as much to enjoy the amazing views the trip offers. The view of the village we just left behind, rises in the middle of a beautiful green landscape beneath us. And the mountains stand layer by layer in blue-gray shades against a blue, cloudless sky.

For All Senses

The trail winds its way through a beautiful cultural landscape. Parts of it follow paths that were used by donkeys and horses. The villages and cultural landscape, with a complex network of irrigation systems and aqueducts that make agriculture possible on the mountainsides, is a legacy of the Arabs who lived in the areas for hundreds of years.

The green and lush landscape extends on both sides of the valley. Poplars, olive and fig trees, meadows with bright yellow sunflowers, and rows of red, ripe raspberries. Grapes and vegetables. Trees with apples and pears. And tempting cherries. Small wildflowers everywhere. Now and then you may hear the sound of rippling water, and in between sense the fragrance of wild lavender and countless other plant species. And don't forget to listen to the birds´ beautiful song.

Protected Nature

As a tourist and guest, it is important to be aware that nature is protected in the area. You are not allowed to pick or take with you plants nor stones from the area. The area is vulnerable to environmental pollution as well, so take your own trash with you when you leave.

Arriving at Bubión

After about forty-five minutes with rests included, you will reach the lowest part of Bubión, a village divided into two separate areas.

When you arrive at the village you will find a water fountain in the middle of the narrow street. Even though it may be tempting to quench your thirst and drink the water, it may be a safer solution to bring some water with you, as well as energy bars or fresh fruit to replenish energy along the way.

Take a look at all the beautiful traditional houses with flat roofs, typical for those villages and also a legacy from the Arabs. From their window sills and balconies, jars hang with beautiful lush begonias. Nowhere have I seen the begonia lusher or its colors brighter than up here in the whitewashed villages of Alpujarra.

Continue walking along the fence towards a meadow where horses sometimes graze. Take a break and enjoy the feeling of being in the real countryside. And don't miss the sight of the top of La Veleta, the third highest mountain peak of the Iberian peninsula and the second highest of Sierra Nevada.

Take a picture and move on to the upper part of the village. Here you may find a nice restaurant overlooking the valley to enjoy a traditional meal, while enjoying the view of the valley. At the left side you'll see Pampaneira where you started. And at the right hand side, further up the mountain, you'll see Campileira, the next village you may visit. You may also visit shops that sell traditional handcrafted work typical of the area, such as handwoven rugs.

Balm for Body and Soul

After you have taken your time in the village, its time to head back and take the same path back down to Pampaneira. It may be hard for the thigh muscles, and going downhill feels even harder than going up. Therefore, a bit more than a kilometer each way may be a good start the first day to get to know your physical strength before embarking on a longer trip.

The possibilities are many for round trips and longer trips further up to the peaks of the high mountains and across the hills. A hike in Alpujarra, small or long, is balm for the body and soul.

© 2019 Gro Kristina Slaatto

Comments

Gro Kristina Slaatto (author) from Oslo, Norway and Vélez de Benaudalla, Spain on October 21, 2019:

Hi, Liz and thank you for nice comments on my photos and article. Yes, Frigiliana is also a very beautiful village with Moorish heritage. Hope you find time to also visit the wonderful small mountain villages in Alpujarra some day.

Best regards, Gro Kristina

Gro Kristina Slaatto (author) from Oslo, Norway and Vélez de Benaudalla, Spain on October 21, 2019:

Thank you so much, Liza, and hope you soon get a chance to visit Spain.

Liza from USA on October 21, 2019:

Great article. I have never been to Spain and it's one of my bucket lists! Thank you for sharing the story. The photos are beautiful.

Liz Westwood from UK on October 21, 2019:

Beautiful photos and a fascinating article. I have recently returned from a visit to Spain. I still remember a visit to Frigiliana many years ago. Spain is a beautiful country. I will look up these villages on a map.

Gro Kristina Slaatto (author) from Oslo, Norway and Vélez de Benaudalla, Spain on October 21, 2019:

I am happy that you like my pictures, Matt. The area is very beautiful. Best regards, Gro Kristina

Matt Doran from Manchester, UK on October 20, 2019:

I love the pictures. Looks like such a beautiful area.

Gro Kristina Slaatto (author) from Oslo, Norway and Vélez de Benaudalla, Spain on October 20, 2019:

Thank you so much for nice comments on my article, Gunvor. Happy that you like it. Yes, agree. The area is amazing. Best regards. Gro Kristina

Gunvor on October 20, 2019:

Oh, so lovely; I've been hiking in these aeras, as well, also south-east and west. Majestetic mountains and beautiful villages in Al Pujarra.

Wishing you all the best, Gro Kristina