Category Archives: Clives Ramblings

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!

bars and restaurants are reopening

Well, slowly but surely all the bars and restaurants are reopening in Ronda, Grazalema and the area around the Caminito del Rey.

Many hotels are already taking bookings as well. However, it does seem that Ronda is lagging behind a little in this respect. Let’s hope it catches up soon.

The state of alarm declared here in Spain due to the outbreak of Covid-19 will be lifted on the 21st of June 2020.

This means that this “new normality” that everyone has been talking about will be a reality. What exactly does it mean? Who knows to be honest. Hopefully it will mean that the quality of establishements will be better than ever. Providing a clean and safe environment to sample those Spanish tapas or wallowing in the jacuzzi of your favorite hotel.

Whats new on the websites?

Heres the latest article over at Ronda Today if you fancy a horseriding holiday in this stunning area of Western Andalucia.

The Caminito del Rey is up and running and there are virtually no spaces left aaccording to the official online booking system. Have a look here for some alternative ways to get an entry ticket

The Spanish version Event Calendar is developing nicely. All the basic village and town information articles are written and published and there are now 41 villages on the new pages.

A few events have been published For some villages and I expect this to increase a lot with the lockdown lifted and more freedom to move around.

That said, pretty much every summer feria and romería has been cancelled for this year. So this August will be a quiet one without the usual fun fairs, dodgems and deafening concerts untill the early morning sun rises. 🙂

You can see the event calendar website here. Its all in Spanish so good practice for your language skills. 🙂

Wildside Holidays is also doing pretty well of late! I am seeing traffic increasing and hopefully the businesses running wildlife holidays in Spain will benefit a little from this project.

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!

So, theres more happening in my neck of the woods than just the bars and restaurants are reopening!

Happy travels and stay safe!


The new events calendar for Grazalema and its neighbours

So, I am working on the new events calendar. It’s not just the Sierra de Grazalema as before but now but takes in all of the Serranía de Ronda from Algámitas across to Benaladid to Ubrique via Cortes de la Frontera and finishing up alphabetically in Zahara de la sierra.

Events right now are few and far between due to the coronavirus issue that continues to persist.

That said, things are coming alive again slowly but surely.

Bars and restaurants are opening. Places to visit and things to do. Hotels taking reservations.

You can follow the progress of the new event calender on this domain here.

It is in Spanish so good for your language practice.

A high walk in the mountains of the Sierra de Grazalema – Coros Peak

As the name suggests this is a high walk in the mountains of the Sierra de Grazalema. But, the easy access by road gains the altitude for you and then the walk is a fairly short circular one that goes around the peak rather than climbing to the top of it.

The view from the Coros peak close to Grazalema

This walk offers spectacular views and gives an overview of the whole area with 360 degree views from the peak itself. The peak of Coros is 1,328m above sea level and the car park 1,157m. The walk takes about 1.5 at a leisurely pace to complete the 2.7km and may give amazing sightings of Griffon Vultures, from above and below. The terrain is rugged limestone rock with rough grasses, stunted oak trees and sparse Mediterranean scrub.

How to get to the Puerto de la Palomas.

Park in the large area at “Puerto de Las Palomas” which is on the CA9104 road from Grazalema to Zahara de la Sierra.

Place your back to the view point “Mirador”/road and beyond the car park on the left hand side the trail begins at a slight incline passing through a rustic fence gate. (Not the big green gate on the right!)

Continue reading A high walk in the mountains of the Sierra de Grazalema – Coros Peak

Hotel Booking sites, OTA’s and unhappy hoteliers

So, Last week I read a really interesting article over at Secret Serrania

The owners of an art boutique hotel in the beautiful white village of Gaucin, perched high up in the Serrania de Ronda have called for a boycott of OTAs (Online Travel Agency) including, and Expedia saying the COVID-19 crisis ‘has revealed the true nature of OTAs’.

But they’ve had enough of the OTAs and are now calling on their guests to book direct with them.

Read the full article on Secret Serrania here.

It would seem that there are some very unhappy hoteliers out there (and in some cases for good reason I suppose) but I think that we could look at this from a different perspective. The perspective of someone like me who runs this, the Grazalema Guide and other websites focusing on tourism in Western Andalucia…

Lets face it, I am not the only “niche” website in the world (as the link to Secret Serrania shows.) There are many small and very focused websites covering all sorts of subjects. But, and this is a big but. Although I would consider myself to be an expert in my field its almost impossible to get relevent local businesses to be confident in my product.

What’s my product you may ask?

Well I have spent years and years studying my subject. Thousands of people each month read my thousands of articles and I receive over 200 emails a month asking me for further help or thanking me for the help I have given them. My various websites have around 200,000 people visiting them each month… Surely this means something to businesses such as hotels in the area? well, apparently no!

I can give a perfect example. Over the years, I have approached literally thousands of businesses asking them to support my websites by taking out an advertising campaign.

In the past, for as low as 25 euros a year a hotel could have had main coverage and promotion from any of my sites. I can see my stats. I know how many customers I push their way and the statistics speak for themselves.

So, one day, the owner of a hotel in the Ronda area asked me. “that 25 euros a year is for what exactly?” My response was an estimated 5 double rooms booked each year…. “Hahahahaha” they said.

Maybe next year.

This went on for more than a couple of years and to be quite honest I became rather upset and annoyed that the people in the hotel industry were spending thousands yearly on “OTA’s” and couldn’t spare 25 euros for me? (After all, if I could get even 500 business across my sites I would have a reasonable income from them as a whole.) They would be helping a local business to promote their local business… Win win no?

So, one day I simply gave up trying to “tout” my business. No more phone calls or visits or emails. I just switched every link to every hotel across all of my websites to the links for that particual hotel… Easy! (though it took many weeks to rewrite, and edit and republish many of my articles)

And what of that original business in the Ronda area that thought 25 euros was too expensive? Well, last year they paid me 1200 euros in commissions (via Money that they need not have spent because I would have been very happy with the 25 Euros…

In a a way the hotel industry is now sowing what it reaped. You all put your faith in these OTA’s and the greed that comes along with them. You all became obsessed with tripadvisor and facebook and twitter and booking and hotels and venere and rough travel and all the rest of the guys that spend YOUR money keeping YOUR website OFF the top of Google search.

The fact is, that whether anybody likes it or not, My tourist websites and thousands of others like mine are funded by click ads from Google and affiliate links to OTA’s. Your customers don’t see your website. They see mine because it is packed with well researched and well written content that PROMOTES your local business.

You would have been better to have spent your valuable time writing better content for your websites and talking to local people, employing local guides and advertising on locally focused businesses.

The key to the future of tourism is cooperation, trust and sharing…. look at Wildside Holidays to see what I mean by sharing… It is a dedicated website promoting walking and wildlife holidays in Grazalema… Or is it? I`ll let you decide.

Wildside Holidays

Grazalema Guide

Caminito del Rey

Ronda Today

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