We have spent the last two winters in Andalucia with our 10 year old Jack Russell Terrier “Gordon” and our 11 year old JackChi “Pedro” – and the whole pack absolutely loves it. It is warmer, brighter, peaceful – and the landscape is dramatic and really takes your breath away.
At the foot of the ridge
For our first year in Andalucia we rented a traditional stone cottage called “Casa Luc” for three months in the province of Malaga. It was at a finca (‘farm’) just at the foot of the mountain ridge called “Sierra Crestellina”, in a beautiful nature reserve with walking paths in the oak forest just outside the finca. The area had lots of beautiful cork oak forests, chestnut trees, olive and pine trees. From the house you saw the mountain ridge of Sierra Crestellina, the griffon vultures flying from the peaks and down the valley towards the little village with lots of white houses placed on an outcropping in the deep valley, called Casares. If you walked a few minutes up above the finca you could see down the whole valley to the mediterranean with the Gibraltar rock rising up of the water and Morocco in the distance. Stunning! We had wonderful neighbours – both humans and animals.
We were also allowed to enter a large, fenced, and very well kept hunting area just a few minutes walk above the finca. We were very quiet in there and could observe small families of the wild black iberico boars running around eating acorn. We could have walked a circular route around the whole valley from the finca. But instead we walked up to the ridge of Sierra Crestellina (946 m over the ocean) and to the refugio and back, to an outcropping in the middle of the valley with a beautiful view of Casares and the Gibraltar rock, and walking around into the hunting area. It was a bit too warm for our old dogs to do very long walks. Sometimes we had to carry the dogs over thorny bushes or up the cliffs.
Last year in February we drove past a beautiful area on our way from Spain to Portugal – The huge nature reserve “Sierra de Grazalema” – and we were both looking at each other saying “Wow! We must find a place here to stay for next winter!” We really fell in love with the mountains, valleys, lakes and countryside with all olive, figs and almond trees. It seemed so peaceful and relaxing. Birds singing, sheep bells ringing, lambs and sheep bääing, horses neighing, hens and turkeys clucking, roosters crowing, doggies howling and barking and kittens meowing in every corner. And foxes… foxing in the night?
Surrounded by mountains
Looking for something to rent at AirBnB we found just the right place in El Gastor in the province of Cadiz in Andalucia . A traditional stone cottage called “Casa Utopia II”, up in the mountains with valleys and mountains all around it in the area of our dreams. The fact that the super host Pia rented it out was crucial. She is a great person – we were so happy we found her cottage and that is was vacant. We have been staying in the cottage for a while now and we found new fantastic four legged and two legged friends here.
We have been walking around the mountain we live at and down to the lake and back, along the fields and the dirty roads in different directions and up to different small hills with a wonderful view of the lake and the mountains. And all of it you can reach in a walking distance.
Everywhere you look there seem to be a walking path to explore with the dogs. We have seen new beautiful flowers almost every walk. We picked lemons during the whole time and almonds in November – January, wild asparagus in February – April here. We think that in the end of April the figs will go soft and get ripe. We picked a few soft figs yesterday – hopefully we can make a marmalade out of it.
Walking with the dogs in El Gastor
You don’t have to go far with the car to do amazing walks with the dogs. We have been up exploring the peaks “Lagarin” and “Las Grajas” 7 minutes drive from the cottage. You park at the “Balcon de los Pueblos Blancos” (Balcony of the White Villages) in El Gastor, walking upwards towards the peak of Lagarin, while watching the magnificent griffon vultures glide between the peaks. It was best to do the walks just after breakfast before the sun go too hot for both us and the dogs. It is also nice to bring walking sticks since the paths are steep, and it was nice to relax up there with some water and an orange while resting on a blanket. We had a good use of the guide book “Waking the mountains of Ronda and Grazalema” written by the british author Guy Hunter-Watts during our stay in Casa Utopia II.
If you prefer a less steep walking path we can really recommend to walk “Via verde” near Olvera with the dogs. It is only a 20 minutes drive from the cottage, and follows the path of an old, never finished, railway track.
Dog friendly restaurant in El Gastor
In El Gastor there is a great and cozy dog friendly restaurant called “La Posada”. It serves wonderful tapas and local produced great wine.
You will find more about “La Posada” in the dog friendly guide BringTheDog.se: https://bringthedog.se/#!el-gastor/la-posada