Tours & Excursions
Serrania de Ronda
By Margret Fortmann / Escuela Montalbán
Aug 6, 2004, 06:00

Ronda, Spain

This is the classic rural landscape of Andalucía, where green hills under rocky crags are dotted with "white villages" like snow-white cloths which have floated down to snag on hilltops and settle in crevices. Serenely beautiful today, the "pueblos blancos" have a turbulent history. Ruined castles and the name "de la Frontera" tagged to many a village chronicle the medieval boundary between Moorish and Christian kingdoms and Arabic echoes linger in the narrow sun-baked streets of whitewashed houses.

The Serranía comprises a wonderful assembly of national parks and nature reserves, from vertiginous rocky ravines to forests of junipe, chestnut, maple and pines. You can search for orchids on a mountain walk or engage in more adventurous pursuits such as riding, hang-gliding, mountain-biking and canyoning.

Trundling through the hills is the train which brought Victorian tourists, in search of romantic landscapes, to this wild corner of Spain. It was the haunt then of bandits and smugglers who rode over the Pass of the Doves, the highest in Andalucía, and the Pass of the Drunken Oak Trees, and hid out in such charming spots as Gaucín, Jimera de Líbar, Benaoján, Montejaque or the villages of the Genal Valley.

Serranía is a perfect base for exploring, to the south is the quietest resort on Andalucía's Mediterranean coast, Estepona, whilst to the east the hills are riven by the mighty El Chorro gorge. At Jerez, to the west, you can sample flamenco in backstreet bars, or sherry in grand bodegas.

For further information contact Escuela Montalbán, a Spanish language school in Granada, which offers guided visits to Ronda and the surrounding area.

© Copyright 2004 by & Margret Fortmann / Escuela Montalbán