General Description: A linear walk with good views and lots of wildlife.
Distance: 11 kilometres, 3.5 hours
Essential: Wind and waterproofs, boots
Start: Take the N340 to the Hurricane Hotel just past Tarifa. On the right is a car park with an ornithological information building. Park here.
This walk is part of the G7 route and is suitable for walking or cycling. The first kilometre, to the bird observatory is suitable for vehicles. You can expect to see a remarkable amount of flora, some of it semi tropical, and a good selection of birds.
Take the track that leads up past the Hotel La Pina. It gradually ascends for about 1.5 kilometres until you see a round concrete observatory on your right just off the track. From the observatory you will see, 50 metres away, a vulture feeding station. On the day the walk took place there were over twenty vultures fighting and squabbling over the carcasses with at least another fifty waiting in a field opposite to fly in for the second sitting. When warding off competition these huge birds hiss at one another like snakes. A dominant bird will open its wings to shield the carcass from other birds and occasionally a larger vulture will fly directly into a smaller bird knocking it to the ground. Watching this aerial feeding frenzy is very similar to watching sharks.
Beyond the feeding station the track continues gently up and you pass a number of fincas and villas. You will notice the lack of fences. Cows, bullocks, sheep, goats, poultry and black pigs roam freely in the grassy areas on both sides of the track. Continue on the main track as the valley opens up to your right and you pass some new wooden chalets. You will reach a point where the obvious track bears left and a minor track goes straight on. Ahead to the left of the minor track you will see a small farm. Take the minor track that soon becomes a rough path as it descends into a wooded valley and across a stream.
About ½ kilometre further you will see, on your left just off the path, a post with red and white markings. Leave the main path here and follow a water worn gully up the hill. At the top of the gully bear right and head for the wooden sign post ahead. From there the way is straight on through cork oak woods on a better track. You will see, on your left a ruined farm and the woods thin out allowing views towards La Puerta de Ojen. This is the turn round point.
On the return journey notice to the east the range of hills descending to the coast. These are the southern 'prong' of the Alcornocales range and at their foot is the port of Tarifa. Ahead you will see the wide, white, sandy beach stretching towards Punta Paloma where Bronze Age man established a necropolis about 2,500 BC in natural caves and hollows in the limestone. Across the Strait is Africa with, on a good day, superb views of the Rif mountains and the coast from Ceuta to Tangier.
© Nicholas Craig Nutter 2004 - 2012. Nick Nutter asserts his rights as the author of this article and all associated images. This article and images may not be copied or reproduced in any way without written permission of the author.