About an hour and half’s drive from El Chorro is the Vía Verde de la Sierra. Just outside of Olvera, this is 38 kilometres of cycle/walking/horseriding track through a stunning and mountainous landscape.
The Via Verde has been built on a disused railway track, so is relatively straight and flat. It is suitable for wheelchair users. Bikes can be hired in Olvera from a business called “Sesca” that is situated right at the entrance to the via. No motorised vehicles are allowed on the track, although you do come across rangers driving along at intervals.
Mum, Dad and I decided to make a day trip and do a short stint of the route. We managed to find a track up to a farmhouse perched on the edge of the Via, where we parked up. We walked a couple of kilometres through beautiful and unspoilt countryside. In the short walk that we did, we went over a stunning viaduct (apparently there are several of these along the route) and under a long tunnel that lit up automatically as we walked through it. There are a total of 30 tunnels and four viaducts along the route.
We stopped our walk at the Penon de Zaframagon, which is a nature reserve. There is an impressive rocky crag here which is home to the largest colony of Griffon Vultures in Western Andalucia. A little further along from the crag, we stopped at the Visitor Centre and Vulture Observatory. There is a café here, but it’s only open weekends and holidays, so unlike us, you would be wise to pack some lunch and refreshments for the journey. We made do with Dad’s Kendal Mint Cake to keep us going.
We met the lovely Lidia, who was the member of staff on duty at the desk and she was fantastic.
Her English was very good and she showed us to the information displays before taking us upstairs to talk us through the live web-cam focused on the nesting vultures. We learnt loads about vultures, their behaviour, social relationships, breeding and feeding habits and it was fascinating to see the chicks being fed live on the screens.
Perhaps the most memorable part of our walk were the horses right at the start. As we stood admiring the two mares stood over a young foal, keeping it shaded from the hot sun, we became concerned at the stallion apparently “attacking” and biting another mare who was squealing in distress and pain. It quickly became obvious that this was, in fact, a particularly violent mating ritual. I can’t wait to hear how Dad’s photography club receive the resulting photos!
This was a lovely walk and it is now on my to-do list to return and hire bikes and maybe book into a local hotel so that we can make a full day of it and experience more of the Via Verde.
Great fun using a four-wheel drive buggy to explore the mountains around El Chorro...