Summer is coming up again and this is the ideal time to go and see the spring in the Sierra Nevada, the biggest national park of Spain. The Sierra Nevada mountainrange is some 80 km long and 15 till 30 km wide.
From Capileira (75 km distance from Granada-city) there are buses going up to 2700 m to the Mirador the Trevelez or Alto del Chorillo area. From here the climb to the Mulhacen takes you (depending on experience and condition) some 2,5 till 3 hours.
|Sierra Nevada mountains 2012 and Veleta 3392m|
Be prepared though for any type of weather, so always take good walking boots for the rugged terrain, a windjack, loads of suncream, because the AV-radiation on many days is nearly 10 and of course water and food.
The Sierra Nevada Nature Area, comprising its National Park and Nature Park, is an impressive, compact mountain range which boasts the highest peak on the Iberian Peninsula: Mulhacén (3,482 metres). It forms part of the Penibetic range, which stretches from the south-eastern part of Granada province to the western borders of Almería. Due to the great variety of its landscapes and the uniqueness of its natural features, Sierra Nevada is included in several different categories of protection. Apart from being a Nature Park and National Park, it is also an internationally recognised Biosphere Reserve.
Thanks to its altitude range and climate, it is home to a large number of plants which have adapted very specifically to the harsh conditions found there. On the higher peaks, like Veleta (3392m) and Tajo de los Machos, unique species such as the Sierra Nevada violet and plantago nivalis (known locally as “estrella de las nieves” – snowstar) can be found growing beneath overhanging rocks and in cracks in the rock faces.
|Estrella de las Nieves, Lat:Plantago Nivalis|
At this altitude there are also beautiful glacial valleys such as Siete Lagunas. In the mid-mountain area, the landscape is dominated by deciduous woodland with Pyrenean oaks, maples, wild cherry and chestnut trees. This woodland alters the appearance of the landscape from one season to another: in autumn the trees begin to shed their leaves, producing an overall golden brown colour; but when the new shoots bud in spring the mountainside is flooded by deep tones of green. At lower altitudes there are holm oak groves like those at Montenegro and the watercourses are flanked by riverine forests.
|Mulhacen, april 2012|
This great variety in plant life and climate has contributed to the area’s wealth of animal species. In the higher regions, alpine accentors, blue rock thrushes and red-billed choughs can be seen in flight. If you wait quietly, a dipper, an oropendola or a brightly coloured kingfisher may just appear among the shadows of the riverine woodland. A golden eagle could also make an appearance at any time.
The woodland and thick scrubland supports a large community of mammals, including wild boar, foxes, badgers and genet cats. From the Dílar River Valley and Poqueira Gorge you can see mountain goats, a species very common in these mountains, climbing up the slopes and walking along the rocky peaks. The invertebrate population is also very representative, many species being unique to this environment. There are over twenty species of butterfly and more than thirty types of beetle.
|endemic beetle of Sierra Nevada: baetica ustulata|
This area was occupied by Tartessians, Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans, but it was unquestionably the Moors who left the greatest legacy. Their influence can still be seen today in local architecture and in irrigation systems known as “acequias”. The villages of the Alpujarras are of great architectural interest, with their white houses clinging to the mountainside, their small windows, flat roofs and narrow chimneys, not to mention the characteristic porches, “tinaos”, which span the streets from one side to another.
Those interested in skiing, mountaineering, fishing or walking will find this the perfect place to spend their holidays.
Information from the Junta de Andalucia website
|Livingroom Casa Launa, Pitres|