The Parque Natural de las Sierra Nieves is a glorious green space up in the hills behind Marbella. In 1995 it was declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve for being largely unspoilt with a rich and diverse flora and fauna. It’s mostly uninhabited with just a few rural communities within it and we chose an area just outside the little town of Tolox as the base for a walk in this special place. Park4night indicated a small wild camping space on a little promontory off the road way above the village and we found it unoccupied and just big enough to back the motorhome into without reverserving off the edge! We arrived quite late and waking up on the hillside after a very peaceful night opened the blinds the next day to a partly cloudy but warm, bright day – perfect for a hill walk.
Google maps seemed to show that there was another reasonable parking area big enough for a motorhome about 2km away up the hill at the start of a signposted circular walk. Feeling optimistic we continued on the road upwards, still quite narrow and winding until we came to the end of the tarmac and a small hotel where the road changed into a gravel track with a sign showing that it was still a further 1.6km to the start of the walk. The track looked wide enough but we didn’t know what was ahead and whether we’d be able to turn around if we needed to. We popped into the hotel to ask for information but they weren’t able to offer any so we decided against going any further, turned around and went back to where we started.
Getting out to take a photo of Buzz, I wandered across the road and up the rocks a little way noticing the top of a sign a bit further up. Going over to investigate I found a sign for a different walk, the ‘Sendero de las Cascadas’ a 9km walk from that point. Pleased with this discovery we locked up the motorhome and set off up the rocky trail, realising after about 15 minutes that we really should have packed a flask and some lunch so we could go as far as we wanted without having to turn back because we were hungry or thirsty. Slightly annoyed with ourselves but taking the opportunity before going too far, we walked back, packed a picnic, swapped jeans for shorts, turned around and set off again.
As with many walks, the actual path is very vague so it took some time initially picking our way through the rocks, getting reassurance now and again when we saw the two painted stripes indicating that we hadn’t gone ‘off piste’. The start was quite steep, the trail zig-zagging through loose pebbles and rocky gulleys before evening out onto a flatter path sloping steadily, curving around the hillsides, higher and higher. We passed a few streams and trickles of water here and there but not what you could exactly call ‘Cascades’! If we’d gone right to the end we would probably have seen something a bit more impressive but we didn’t quite make it that far. It was a lovely landscape though with a variety of interesting rocks, wild olive, carob, oak and juniper trees, pine trees with giant cones on and clusters of colourful flowers here and there. If we’d had my Dad with me he’d have known exactly what they were, including the Latin names for them, but alas we are not so knowledgeable! We had to step over several troops of huge wood ants and a trail of processionary caterpillars which we almost trod on.
When we’d walked as far as we wanted to go we got the lunch out, found some not too uncomfortable rocks to perch on and sat down taking in the scene of Tolox way below. In the far distance below us we could hear children playing, and the ever present dogs barking but at the same time it was so peaceful.
White and orange butterflies floated by while eagles soared above us. There’s nothing better than sitting back after a long walk or climb, taking in the views, eating a picnic and feeling on top of the world. That is, until a fly jumps in your coffee for a hot spa the moment you pour it out!
By the time we got back to Buzz it was 3.30 and we had no idea what we were going to do next. It’s always such a great feeling getting back to the van and it’s not until you sit down you realise how worn out you are. So, on went the kettle, on went the thinking caps and we decided we would head down to Cala de Mijas on the coast, aiming for a parking place we’d found on Camper Contact.