Category Archives: Nature notes diary

A walk in the Garganta verde.

Digging up old articles and reviews from 10 years ago or more I came across Steves great trip report about a walk in the Garganta Verde. First published in 2012.


“After recently enjoying a family holiday in the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park, Steve has written this article to share his experience of hiking the Garganta Verde.”

Remember that to enter this restricted area you need a permission from the park authorities. Read here about how to obtain permits for restricted areas in the Sierra de Grazalema


As part of our week at the end of August with Clive and Sue (of The Grazalema Guide and Wildside Holidays) we had permits for a visit to ‘La Garganta Verde”‘ a “must do” for the more adventurous visitors to the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park.

Continue reading A walk in the Garganta verde.

Summer heat in the Sierra de Grazalema

Someone has turned up the heating here in the Sierra de Grazalema and the rain and cool of the spring seems to be a long distant memory…!

Temperatures are up in the high thirties and the forecast is for more intense heat yet to come which will probably take us into the forties!

The green fields and colourful meadows have changed to dusty soil as the summer does its work to dry seed heads. Local farmers are doing their work to harvesting the fields of wheat, sunflowers and other crops.

Nothing surely can compare with walking through a pine forest in Andalucia with cones cracking in the heat and cicadas “whirring” in the branches.

The temperature hits the melt point releasing the essential oils from cistus, rosemary and lavender that fill the air with that unmistakeable Mediterranean hot summer scent… Maybe you can guess from my words… I love Andalucia in the summer!

in summer the bright pink Nerium oleander is in full bloom and if you look closer you will see that this plant generally follows watercourses and dry (sometimes wet) gullies… Oleander hedges always provide great rewards for insect expeditions over the hot months of July and August.

Especially look out for dragonflies and damselflies, shining jewels of the summer flying alongside the butterflies that appear in a myriad of colours and sizes feeding on blue sea holly and other plants of the thistle family

Many people find it too hot during the months of July and August but for those with a special interest in insects this area is litterally a “hotspot” for many normally hard to find species.


Wildside Holidays – Spain

The top wildlife, activity and walking holiday companies in Spain. Small family companies living and working in Spain. Local guides are the best!

http://wildsideholidays.co.uk/

A visit to the botanic garden in the village of El Bosque.

Regular visits to the Botanic Garden in El Bosque village allow us to see the local wild plants as they change through the seasons.

Mid June is the best time to see some of the parks endemics in full flower. Phlomis x margaritae is a hybrid shrub in the Sage family that occurs naturally on a mountain named Margarita – hence the plant name. This is placed in the “rupicola” section (rock gardens) at the highest point of the meandering pathways. It is a plant endemic to the Sierra de Grazalema park area. This meaning that it is not found in the wild anywhere else in the world.

In the same rock gardens and in full flower at this time of year are the orange blooms of the cliff dwelling Grazalema poppy (Papaver rupifragum) which although it was thought that this plant was exclusive to this mountain range it has also been recorded in Morocco.

The delicate lemon flowers of (Sideritis incana subsp occidentalis) are easily overlooked on a mountain side and this again is only from the Grazalema area.

The sky was a beautiful deep blue and I love the combination of dark green trees and fresh white clouds against such a colour. My progress around the gardens was slow as there is so much to see and photograph at this time of year. Even seed pods from plants that flowered earlier are very photogenic.

The shaded areas beneath the mature trees on visits to the Botanic Garden in El Bosque village are always welcome at this time of year!

On my first visits here I used to write the plant names that I wanted to learn onto a note pad, now I cheat and take a photo of the sign along with the plant pictures – so much quicker!


Wildside Holidays – Spain

The top wildlife, activity and walking holiday companies in Spain. Small family companies living and working in Spain. Local guides are the best!

http://wildsideholidays.co.uk/

Grazalema Poppy (Papaver rupifragum) Amapola de Grazalema

The Grazalema poppy is a soft orange in colour and can be seen in the wild only in the Sierra de Grazalema (within Europe.)

It hangs off cliff faces, lodges itself between rocky clefts or is found tucked into natural pavement crevices.

The main flowering time is in the month of June and it was originally thought to exist solely here in the Sierra de Grazalema area but it has also been found in similar mountain localities in the western Rif and the Middle Atlas, Morocco.

(There are actually quite a few plants that are shared between the south western Andalusian mountains and North Africa as historically they were connected through this mountain chain.)

The altitudinal range of the Grazalema poppy is 900 to 1.600 m with most occurring between 1.100 to 1.350m. The temperature change at this altitude on the mountains through the course of a year can be quite dramatic spanning from snow coverage to a baking drought.

This plant species is limited to the north and north east facing slopes as these are slightly cooler and more humid. If the plant has grown in favourable conditions it may survive for 15 years, others falling in less hospitable terrain die during the summer, hopefully not before setting seed.

The seeds are dispersed close to the parent plant by wind throughout the summer and germinate with the autumn rains. If these arrive late the plants may not grow strong enough to survive the winter.

This hardy perennial plant can have around 1000 to 2000 seeds within one seed pod, but as only around one per cent survive to reproduce they are on the list of protected species within Andalucía. There are various reasons for this low number, the main one is being grazed by wild and domestic goats which can remove 50% of the flowering shoots.

Some plants that escape this fate are those on sheer cliff faces but the seeds from these may fall into deep, moving scree slopes where they can not grow.

For an alternative way to see the Grazalema poppy in flower visit the Botanic Gardens “El Castillejo” in the village of El Bosque on the western side of the Sierra de Grazalema natural park. As with most poppies a morning visit is recommended as they drop their petals during the afternoon.

Family: Papaveraceae
Scientific name: Papaver rupifragum Boiss. & Reut.
Spanish common name: Amapola de Grazalema


Wildside Holidays – Spain

The top wildlife, activity and walking holiday companies in Spain. Small family companies living and working in Spain. Local guides are the best!

http://wildsideholidays.co.uk/

45 days of lockdown in the Sierra de Grazalema

So, here we are at day 45 of quarantine lockdown in the Sierra de Grazalema, Spain. To be honest, for the family and I, it really isn’t too bad as we live in a house in the countryside 10 kilometres from Grazalema and we have about a hectare of land with vegetable gardens and plenty of space for the 3 children to play. I feel for the parents and kids stuck inside small apartments.

Grazalema so far has no cases of the dreaded virus along with other fairly isolated villages in the area such as Zahara de la Sierra, Villaluenga del Rosario and El Gastor. Ronda has had its share of suffering with over 100 registered infections and, sadly, 13 deaths but that is to be expected as the regional hospital is located here so infected people have arrived not just from the town of Ronda but, outlying villages as well. The nearby village of Ubrique has suffered with many people in an old peoples home becoming ill with the virus.

Tourism is effectively finished for the time being. Towns and villages normally bustling at this time of year are empty. The roads through the Sierra de Grazalema have hardly any vehicles on them and wildlife is quickly reclaiming its space.

I leave this post with a few pictures of the stunning views in the Sierra de Grazalema.