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Natural Parks in Andalusia

Sierras de Tejeda, Almijara y Alhama Natural Park – Málaga – Granada

Natural Parks in Andalusia

Sierras de Tejeda, Almijara y Alhama Natural Park – Malaga – Granada

Data of interest on the Sierras de Tejeda, Almijara y Alhama Natural Park.

The mountain ranges of Alhama, Tejeda and Almijara constitute an impressive mountain range forming geographical barrier between the provinces of Málaga and Granada. They form a continuous alignment of rocky cliffs that are the most prominent level of geography to the southern Portuguese coast, highlighting the Maroma peak, at 2,068 metres, offering spectacular views over both sides of the Mediterranean. It exerts a corridor effect, because it connects the longitudinal distribution of Málaga to the Sierra Nevada mountain ranges.

Recently it was declared Natural Park, the area known as “La Axarquía” (an Arabic name which means “East”) has some very outstanding natural values, especially in terms of substrate and flora, which have a great variety. Dolomitic marble substrates form the main mass of this kind in our country.

The marginal nature of these mountains has allowed the preservation of their values, both cultural and human heritage. It covers 12 municipalities (Alcaucín, Canillas de Aceituno, Canillas de Albaida, Cómpeta, Frigiliana, Nerja, Salares, Sedella, Alhama de Granada, Arenas del Rey, Jayena and Otívar), of the provinces of Málaga and Granada, including a total population of 40,000 inhabitants.

In the year 1999, after 10 years of the presentation of the Law 2 / 89 about Protected Natural Areas in the Autonomous Community of Andalusia, there has been the inclusion in the inventory approved then of the Sierras Tejeda and Almijara with the category of Natural Park.

With the entry of these mountains in the Protected Natural Areas Network of Andalusia (RENPA), has been paid off an old debt with these mountain ranges, which were inexplicably forgotten by then despite its natural, historical and artistic interests exceed to those found in many other spaces previously received special protection.

The Sierras Tejeda and Almijara constitute an impressive mountain range situated as geographical barrier between the provinces of Málaga and Granada to those separated by the line of peaks. The first one is the backbone of the region known as “Axarquía” (the East for the Arabs), unyielding bastion of Moorish culture. For the latter, is articulated as a backdrop to the fertile lands of Alhama, in the west of Granada, as physical contrast of soft fertile olive groves and cereal.

With an area of 40,663 hectares, this National Park covers much of the mountain range that runs from the River Puente de Piedra in Alcaucín (Málaga), up the road from the mountain goat in Otívar (Granada). Here it is included a continuous alignment rocky escarpments along the height of the most prominent southern geography to the Portuguese coast. With its 2,068 metres altitude, the Maroma peak has no rival, being the dominant vantage point to the west with spectacular views on both sides of the Mediterranean.

Tejeda’s name derives from the large number of yew trees that once populated the mountains. For its part, Almijara derives from the Arabic name “almijar” which means “draining”, possibly referring to the speed with which drain rain water in these streams to the sea and also by deformation of “Sierra de los almijares”, referring to the abundance of these structures (nowadays called paseros) in rural households that were used to dry figs and grapes mainly.

At first glance, these mountains hold many similarities to the great mountain ranges of the North, especially with the Picos de Europa of which are almost symmetrical in the whole Iberian Peninsula. Its proximity to the sea, its similar dimensions and a subsequent back and forth with sharp peaks and deep ravines are responsible for such an analogy.

ikewise, its white chalk cliffs and even the occasional wild water course plunges untamed, in a hasty rush to reach the stillness of the plains of Granada and the Mediterranean coast make this landscape a forgotten paradise until now clear singularity the whole of Andalusia.

Mountains have always been full of stories and legends about rebellions, smuggling, poaching and resistance to established order on the back of mule or circulated by word of mouth until many years brewing for the few ports that connect both sides. There have been harsh territories, where life was more like survival at the expense of battered vineyards by phylloxera, eroded soils by runaway rains in which olive trees, almond trees and fields generated little income. Esparto of its rocky hillsides, pine resin, coal and fuel wood trees and bushes and even the snow on the peaks in good years, together with cattle use of forests and hunting, contributed to livelihood of its people.

This marginal nature has favoured the conservation of the countryside, its traditional architecture and natural values. If the value of the Park like Natural is on the rocks and ravines, in their villages were enclosed a fantastic heritage with Moorish and Mudejar scent with lime sparkling facades and twisted arches, stairways and Moorish brick towers, where the nights smell orange blossom and jasmine. In this aspect we have to highlight the towns of Alhama de Granada, Salares and Frigiliana.

Among its natural values, almost everything is remarkable. If you go to physical support, the stone is composed of very different materials. There are some sites with quartzite, schist and gneiss of very old age (over 500 million years). It stands out the ones from the Middle Triassic era, originated about 300 million years in old seabed. Dolomitic marbles are the most representative of this lithology, forming, along with the neighbouring hills of Granada and Almería the main massif of the constitution in our country. This type of rock is responsible for several peculiarities. The most direct one, an original landscape, dominated by white and gray tones of the rock, with a particular sand disintegration (kakiritización) involved in erosion.

The geomorphology is striking, dominated by steep slopes, sharp ridges and deep ravines. Another consequence of this geological component lies in the ground vegetation. Dolomitic sands are too porous, poorly water retaining precipitation. This, together with certain mineral components as magnesium, will generate an equally unique plant landscape with an abundance of rare or endemic species. As unique geological features, we have to highlight the Cueva de Nerja, declared national monument, or other with lower entity such as the Sima de la Maroma or the Cueva de la Fájara in Canillas de Aceituno.

The flora is one of its important values, perhaps the most apparent. Beside the decisive role of the lithology with confronted contrasts that already generates contrasts; it also shows the influence of a wide range weather governed by the sudden altitude changes (0-2000 m), proximity and the orientation of the mountain mass towards SE – NW. This combination of factors creates a great diversity shown in the plant life unique formations characteristic of the Mediterranean and sometimes conflicting requirements between them. It is dominated by pine trees planted on the white sands generated by the decomposition of the marbles. It is possible the development of Aleppo pine to pine, very different requirements, through the pine, the Corsican or even the famous Salgareño, from experimental stocking in the past.

Also, among trees and shrubs, the range goes from the palm (Chamaerops humilis), bramble (Maytenus senegalensis), the bayón (Osyris quadripartite), revientacabras (Cneorum tricoccum) or boxwood (Buxus balerarica) characteristic of the nearby coastline, until wild service tree (Sorbus aria), durum (Amelanchier ovalis), durum sweet (Cotoneaster granatensis), ash (Adenocarpus decorticans), Turkey oak (Quercus pyrenaica) or aza (Acer granatense) that inhabit the shadowy and high peaks along with the scrub chamaephytes dominated by thorny broom and rascaviejas as Vella spinosa, Prunus prostrata, Erinacea Anthyllis, Astragalus granatensis, Echinospartum boissieri, and Genista spinosa Hormatophylla lobelii.

There is a small tejeda, unique relic which had once populate the mountain range  in such a way that gave its name and whose main value lies in being the most southern of the Iberian Peninsula and one of the best in the Andalusian region. There are also noteworthy the default configurations of juniper (Juniperus phoenicea) with ephedra (Ephedra fragilis). Nor can we forget the broad range of herbaceous characteristics of those dolomitic sands and rocks, where most endemic. These include Linaria amoi, bombycina Centaurea, Centaurea prolongi, Erysimum Myriophyllum, Anthyllis tejedensis, Hippocrepis eriocarpa, Erinus alpinus, Silene boryi, Pinguicola submediterranean, Hieracium texedense, Aquilegia vulgaris, erioblasta Saxifraga, Draba hispanica, Andryala agardhii, Odontites longiflora, Polygala boissieri, Iberis grossi.

Regarding the fauna, its main importance lies in the longitudinal extent of the solid, thereby connecting the mountains of Málaga with neighbouring Sierra Nevada and acting as an important element in the ridge formed by the Betic mountains, and which connect the field of Gibraltar with Levante peninsular. A clear example of this corridor effect has been the recent colonization of the territory by the squirrel, settling in less than three years from one to another extreme in these mountains.

In this small world of trees and rocks, is to highlight its avifauna. Notable is the presence of large eagles (Golden eagle, Bonelli, road and snake buzzard), peregrine falcon and hawk, nightjar, forest birds as the peaks and mountain birds, highlighting the wheatear (black, gray and blonde wheatear), the red rock, blue rock thrush and the Alpine Accentor.

But undoubtedly the most popular animal in these mountains is the wild goat. This endemism of the Iberian fauna, which once was on the brink of extinction, is now booming, thanks no doubt to the successful management conducted by the Administration over this century. For the specific case of Tejeda-Almijara, the hunting regulating of this species in the shape of National Game Reserve has allowed the low existing population initially has increased tenfold over a period of twenty years, with only 1,500 animals on the slope of Málaga. This same management has managed to keep the area free of the mange sarcoptic epidemic that has threatened other towns more or less close. Thus, the Sierras Tejeda and Almijara remain as one of the most important places in Spain for this flagship species of our mountains.

Near the area, belonging to the same domain, but bathing their feet in the sea, is the Natural Spot “Acantilados de  Maro-Cerro Gordo” in the towns of Nerja and Almuñecar (Málaga and Granada), where the temperature is condescending during throughout the year and the light is incredible.

Approach Roads to the Sierras de Tejeda, Almijara y Alhama Natural Park

From Granada .- From the same capital, take the road to Motril and in the port of El Suspiro del Moro, take the turnoff to the right towards Otívar and Almuñécar, it is known as the “Carretera de la cabra montés.” Once here and runs about twenty kilometres take the detour off to the right and reaching the towns of Jayena, Fornes, Arenas del Rey and Alhama de Granada, through the reservoir of Los Bermejales.

If, however, it is taken towards Sevilla on the A-92, once past the town of Loja, take the turning towards Zafarraya, reaching the same foot of the Sierra Tejeda.

From Málaga.– By the coastal road towards Motril-Almería reaches Vélez-Málaga and Nerja. In the first one is possible to deviate from the motorway in the direction of Alhama de Granada, easily accessed from this road, A-335, towards the municipalities of Alcaucín, Canillas de Aceituno, Sedella and Salares. If you want to reach Cómpeta or Canillas de Albaida, log out of the highway through the town of Algarrobo, once past Vélez. For visitors from outside the province, should take the detour in Casabermeja existing prior to the capital, in the direction of Vélez-Málaga, reaching the reservoir of La Viñuela, from where you can reach Alcaucín and other towns of the Natural Park.

Alcaucin – Alcazar Path

Sierras de Tejeda, Almijara y Alhama Natural Park, Málaga and Granada

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