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What to do in Andalusia

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The Sierra Nevada will soon be filled by winter sport enthusiasts but the forests here offer a different side, difficult to find elsewhere
03.12.13 - 12:48 -
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Sierra Nevada’s autumn colours
The contrasting snow-covered hillsides and forest in the Sierra Nevada.
The snow covers the high summits of the Sierra Nevada once again and the pistes finally become functional for winter sports fans. Hillsides and valleys are adorned with a symphony of colours and display a range of tonality which makes this area one of the most beautiful images in nature.
The yellow, ochre and red of the leaves compete with the colour of the evergreens. For some it is the most striking season and for photography enthusiasts it is an ideal moment to capture Mediterranean forest, the colours of the leaves showing how the sun has lost its intensity since summer.
The forests of the Sierra Nevada, are considered to be amongst the most noteworthy deciduous forests on the peninsular. Oak, chestnut, ash, yew and poplar are just some of the species of trees represented in the forests here.
The forests’ mix of deciduous and evergreen species is a rarity in botany and those in the Sierra Nevada, as well as those in the Sierra Tejeda and Cazorla, are considered to be the only ones of this kind in Spain.
Rarity
The rarity of such forests is due to their need for a high amount of annual rainfall and low summer temperatures. In the Sierra Nevada, this type of forest can be found in the Alpujarra area, on the well known cliffs of Poqueira. The area has towns typical of the region such as Capileira, Bubión and Pampaneira.
At the source of the Genil river are the mountain ranges of Maitena and Güéjar. Situated in the small municipality of Lugros, along the Alhama river, it is often referred to as the ‘enchanted forest’.
It is in the region of Dehesa del Camarate that one of the best conserved mixed forests in all of Andalucía can be found. The forest is located between Hoya de Guadix, an arid area, and the peaks of the Sierra Nevada where the forest sits on its various peaks. Between the vegetation here, mountain goats, wild boar, foxes, eagles, owls, cows and bulls can all be easily found.
A visitor to Lugros can enjoy a small town in which its Moorish past is outlined in its streets. But any visitor is bound to try the local delicacy here which is roast calf and rabbit stew.
Another interesting example of a mixed forest can be found on the journey from the Güéjar Sierra to the Maitena which is a pleasant excursion with the Genil river to the right, cutting through the chestnut forest. Upon finishing the walk, the old tram platform can be found on the confluence of the Genil and San Juan cliffs. A path travels through the narrow valley of Genil, with poplars and willows dominating the vegetation.
Moorish architecture
One of the best known and most visited sites is the Poqueira cliffs, with three towns located in the vicinity of its picturesque and unique beauty. Millennia-old architecture has survived the centuries with water still passing through irrigation canals from the Moorish era.
Another distinct element unique to this region is the terraced vegetable gardens, which is a legacy left behind by the Moors who wanted to take advantage of the steep hillsides. The irrigation canal, also around 1,000 years old, transports water that has melted or run down from the numerous springs and delivers it to the aforementioned vegetable gardens. The Poqueira cliffs also offers visitors a number of distinct hiking routes which begin in one of the three towns and travel up into the Sierra Nevada.
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