Journey to Riopar, Segura and Cazorla

Check out the report of our trip to the South – the natural park of Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y las Villas, where we did a week’s worth of hiking, walking through towns and living the Andalusian country life.

Day 1 – The Arrival

After a couple of hours of driving and a stop in a friendly bar in Mahora, Albacete (with temperatures exceeding 40 degrees) we ended up having dinner in a restaurant in Villaverde de Guadalimar. The warmth and hospitality of local people seems to be common in this part of Spain. Not only have we had a great meal there, but the local cats have been fed as well.
Funny enough, Antonia was thought to be a child by our host and was not asked to show any documents upon arrival. I found this quite hilarious, and obviously, this situation has given us the opportunity to have a long lasting (2 weeks) joke.

Day 2 – Río Mundo Headwaters

After having a nice breakfast delivered to us by our host (who is also the village baker), we headed to Riópar for our first hike. The trail from the town to the waterfall is mostly flat, going through the woods along the Mundo river, with lots of shade generously provided to us by the trees. The theme of the day was Yvonne’s constantly (in 15 minute intervals) dropping water bottle, which always reminded us the current time.
The waterfall itself was not that impressive (to me at least), although it is known that the best time to visit it is in the middle of Autumn, after all the seasonal rains, when the water flow is the strongest.
Shout out to Casa Rural Arroyfrío Riópar. Highly recommend staying there if you are planning to visit Nacimiento del Río Mundo.

After the hike we went to have lunch in Riópar Viejo – the medieval village, currently well preserved and well worth a visit. It consists mainly of masonry buildings, most of them being guesthouses nowadays.
Antonija’s cooking skills deserve a special mention, as some of us (who have nothing against legumes) had a chance to be served a great dinner that night.

Day 3 – Segura de la Sierra

The third day of our trip meant that it is time to relocate, and also visit Segura de la Sierra along the way. As the day promised to be cloudy and even bring us some rain, we set out to do a hike between Segura and Moralejos in the morning and check out the town later on. The forecast was not that precise, as we had to do the final climb in the midday sun, but a subsequent visit to a bar with a swimming pool let us cool off a little and rest before exploring the town.

Segura de la Sierra is included in the list of the prettiest villages in Spain, and rightfully so. Segura’s main feature is an imposing castle, seen from all around as the town is located at the top of a hill at 1140 meters above sea level. Apart from that, the town’s streets are well kept and have some of that village charm, characteristic for the Andalusian settlements.

We left Segura in the evening, to settle in our next accommodation in a rural house, just outside Hornos del Segura. Some unexpected adventures awaited us that evening though. As we finished lunch and were enjoying the cooler, evening air, we realised that there is no water in our taps anymore. After a conversation with our host, it turned out that the town hall decided to cut the water supply till next morning. Apparently, the region is suffering from droughts and as it rained that day, local government decided that it is good time to make use of the reservoirs installed in the houses. Not the end of the world, but it kept us wondering just how long will we stay without water. Fortunately, the problem has been resolved the next day.

Day 4 – Hornos del Segura

This day we went on a shorter hike to Hornos del Segura right from our guesthouse. The route involved some walking along the reservoir, but due to the aforementioned drought, the levels were quite low and we only got to see some water when we were nearing the town. Hornos is nice town, with it’s historical quarters closed to traffic, which allows you to take a peacefull stroll through its streets. However, the castle was closed, so we sat down for a drink in a bar and then returned to the house.

The evening did bring us a chance to get closer (and even into) water, as we went to Tranco to kayak and water-pedal in the reservoir. That was quite a nice change of activities, while the headwind on the way back also made it a bit of a challenge.

Day 5 – Nacimiento del Río Borosa

The day’s hike was promising to be exciting and it did not let us down. Nacimiento del Río Borosa is one of the most well-known routes in the whole national park. As the route is quite long (we ended up doing 24 kilometers), we decided to go for an early start and were walking already by 8:30. The early start brought a bit of a surprise of 13 degree morning temperatures, which is not something you’d expect in August. The air stayed cool for about two thirds of the hike as a huge was was providing shade to the hikers all morning.

At about 7 kilometer mark, there is a sign saying “The end of the route”. To me it was clear that the most interesting stuff begins here, and this was exactly the case. It is here where the trail starts really going up, while you get to see waterfalls upon waterfalls all along it. It gets even better later, as the trail gets even steeper and on the top you have to cross a long tunnel (took us a couple of minutes to cross it) to get to the other side of the mountain. Once there we got some splendid views of a laguna and the headwaters of the river coming right from the rocks. A bit of a tough hike, but well worth it!

The dusk was plotting some more plans (for me this time). I decided to leave the shoes on out terrace overnight for them to dry, only to find one of them missing the next morning. Apparently some shoestealin’ nightlurkin’ creature inhabits these lands.

Days 6&7 – Puebleando

The final two days were dedicated to taking it easy and visiting some of the towns of the area. We started with Cazorla, the main population center of the park, as the name (Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y las Villas) would suggest. After having a classy breakfast, the group split in order to be able to do a diverse kind of activities: visit the castle, walk the streets of the old town, look for some souvenirs and even explore the trails. From my part I should say that Cazorla has what seems a very scenic and difficult route, to be saved for later for sure.

Next stop on our way was Quesada – a small town right next to Cazorla, which seems to be very proud of its little corners. As you curiously wander along its streets, you will find that many of them have pompous signs like “The Best Street of 2012”, “The Best Square of 2003”, “The Best Corner of 2005”, and so on… I guess the town inhabitants love to excel at things.

And the final stop of the trip (the following day) was Ayna – sometimes called La Suiza Manchega, and also the filming location for José Luis Cuerda’s movie “Amanece, que no es poco“. You can even take the movie route and find a lot of interesting facts about the movie production, while enjoying the scenic surroundings.

To conclude I should say that Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y las Villas occupies a vast area and cannot be explored fully in a single trip. Wide range of trails, including a long distance path GR-247, definitely deserves another visit, probably in a cooler time of year, where all the magnificent mountain peaks can be reached without getting too hot in the process.

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