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25 Dic 2015 - 15:43:52

The Natural Park of the Sierras of Tejeda Almijara and Alhama

Male Ibex in the Parque Natural de Tejeda y AlmijaraHoliday makers in Spain can still enjoy the stunning scenery of the Costa del Sol as it was 50 years ago if they head east from Malaga. Immediately to the north of the attractive coastal town of Nerja on the eastern Costa del Sol, lies a magnificent area of unspoiled mountains - the Parque Natural de las Sierras de Tejeda, Almijara y Alhama. These three mountain ranges, sprawling across the boundary of the provinces of Granada and Malaga, are a westward extension of the Sierra de Nevada and contain a wonderful variety of scenery, wildlife and wildflowers. The traditional white mountain villages or pueblos scattered around the edge of the natural park add to its charm and beauty, offer attractive bases for visitors and walkers, and still support many of the traditional economic activities of the mountain communities. This environmentally invaluable area is a perfect place for activity holidays and a wonderful example of the best of Andalucia and the Costa del Sol before so many parts were spoiled by uncontrolled development.

The Scenery of the Natural Park

The park is a tumble of rugged mountain peaks, extending as far as the eye can see in all directions, in fact nearly 40km from east to west and nearly 20km from north to south.

The higher slopes, rising to around 2000m, are bare rock, often shining white with snow in the winter sun. Here nothing grows but the occasional tiny patch of lichen.

Slightly lower, at around 12-1500m the slopes are like a glorious alpine garden of delicate wildflowers and stunted pines clinging to crevices in the rock.

Lower still, from 200-1000 metres or so is the garrigue, rough mountain scrub of herbs, bushes and small trees, growing steadily thicker and more luxuriant at decreasing altitudes. Here the slopes are carpeted with bright flowering cistus and sage, and the air carries the sharp fragrance of thyme, lavender and pine. Scattered pine and evergreen oak woods offer welcome shade.

Finally tumbling mountain streams carve deep valleys through the mountains, their banks thick with pines, laurels and oleanders. In their lower reaches, these streams provide generous irrigation for the pastures, farms and orchards which cluster around them on the park's perimeter.

Wildlife in the Natural Park

The park is a naturalist's delight, offering a refuge and habitat for a huge range of birds, insects, reptiles and mammals. Perhaps the most spectacular, and certainly the largest are the ibex, a breed of mountain goat the size of deer. These are quite plentiful, but timid and they need a sharp eye to catch a glimpse of them.

Protecting The Park's Environment and Economy

There are almost no roads, few drivable tracks, and the park authorities exercise strict control over activities like camping which could harm the environment. They are nevertheless keen to support environmentally responsible tourism, as well as traditional, ecofriendly, sustainable and beneficial economic activities in the park partly to help sustain the economic viability of the surrounding pueblos.

To this end activities like beekeeping, sheep and cattle grazing and goat herding in the natural park are all allowed with appropriate controls. The park also has a substantial reafforestation programme, slowly rolling back the tide on centuries of deforestation, and sustainable logging helps to support other environmental work.

Holidaymakers, and walkers in particular, are welcomed as part of the local dependence on tourism, and many walking routes are well signed and maintained.

Some Facts About the Parque NaturalThe park lies half in Malaga Province and half in Granada, but was set up and is administered by the Junta de AndaluciaIt covers 40,600 hectares, of which 4,700 hectares is still privately owned.Its highest peak is La Maroma, 20080 metres highThe park has only 20 full time staff, relying on contractors for much of the work carried out in the parkThe annual budget of E300,000 is funded by Andalucia, with some help from Madrid and Brussels for particular projects. Even if you have a lot of other priorities for instance, sports, extracurricular activities, etc., still you need to complete a senior project to graduate successfullyThis is supplemented by earnings from forestry, farming, etc.A visitor information centre is planned to open in Sedella soon.The Guard Civil, helped by Park staff regularly carry out 2 or 3 rescues a year. Dont forget that the mountains can be dangerous as well as beautiful. Dress appropriately, be prepared for sudden changes in weather, carry adequate food, water and a map and make sure someone knows where youre going.More information about the natural park.

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