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The Good Life in the Alpujarras

from £1365
Immerse yourself in this hidden region of rural Andalucia, sampling the food, learning how to cook and walking through olive groves and vineyards.

Guided Walking Holidays - The Good Life in the Alpujarras

When the Moors were expelled from Granada, they retreated to the Alpujarras, the southern foothills of the Sierra Nevada, and signs of their existence still show today in buildings, and place names. Immerse yourself in this hidden gentle region of rural Andalucia, sampling the food, enjoying the wines and walking through olive groves and vineyards. Peppers and corn dry in the sun against white-washed walls – this is simply another way of living.

The village of Mairena, where we are based for the week, is a small rural community in the western Alpujarras, a less visited part of the region. It was here that writer and Hispanist Gerald Brenan lived the rural life and entertained his literary friends from London.  On some of our dates, one of our walks takes us on a path below the village of Yegen and we’ll spend time in the village he chose to live in, and see where the Serrano ham is dried, gaining an insight into the production of this local delicacy.

The scenery here is splendid and a great accompaniment to the walks and activities. At Jubar, we’ll visit its church and discover how the area has been infuenced by the Moors, not to mention the Civil War; explore the Laroles Valley and stroll to the village of Ugijar through almond and olive groves. One of our walks finishes at a bodega, with a short visit and a wine tasting. At our hotel’s finca we explore the several hectares of land, picking seasonal produce and savouring the home made paella our chefs will prepare. In Valor, we visit a weaving workshop and one evening we will visit the Mairena olive mill and learn all about local olive oil production and farming.

The British hosts of our hotel, Las Chimeneas, have planned our activities for us, taking in the best of the area with a real insight to rural Andalucian life. Their restaurant’s evening menus offer the best of local produce in tasty local dishes.

Las Chimeneas has published a book that combines dozens of the tried and tested recipes which you will sample at their restaurant in Mairena, together with a series of essays and interviews with local characters which will bring insight into this region that the owners love so much, and add flavour to the reading experience. A copy of the book is included for all 2019 bookings.


Our May 11-18 2019 departure includes a special visit to the author Chris Stewart's house for lunch and to learn about his own "Good Life" experience when he moved to the Alpujarras

Holiday Highlights

  • Sample Alpujarran cuisine
  • Walk in Laroles Valley for views across the Sierra Nevada.
  • Enjoy traditional tapas in Almeria.
  • Enjoy local produce on various artisan visits.
  • Experience authentic Alpujarran accommodation in a pueblo blanco
  • Visit the village of Yegen, writer Gerald Brenan’s home.
The holiday inclusions and exclusions at a glance
What's included in this holiday Items that are covered in the cost of holiday price.

      Return fights from London to Almeria (British Airways or charter)
      Airport transfers
      Half board en suite accommodation
      Picnic or tapas lunches
      All local transport costs.
Whats not included in this holiday Items that are not covered in the cost of holiday price.

  • Entrance fees to some museums and historic buildings (unless otherwise specified)
  • Personal expenses (such as your bar bill)
  • Discretionary tips
  • Optional excursions
  • Insurance
Please select Departure Date to view:

Please see Holiday Information Sheet for this holidays individual departures itinerary (located under View Departures & Book tab)

Whilst every effort will be made to adhere to the outlined itinerary and advertised program, local conditions can change due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances. This may mean that routes and timings need to be amended or the order of days may change, sometimes at short notice.

This departure: Grade 3

  1. Day 1

    Arriving at Almeria airport, we make the transfer by private coach to the village of Mairena, located in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada.

  2. Day 2

    On the first day we walk along the way marked route GR7 for half an hour up to the neighbouring village of Jubar. This tiny traditional hamlet boasts the oldest church in the area which dates back to the 12th Century and was both a mosque and synagogue before it became a church. While we enjoy the view our host will tell us a little about the history of the Alpujarras and its Moorish heritage before going in to see the ancient murals inside. The walk then continues for a couple of hours walking up the Laroles valley, along a waterway under the ancient chestnuts and down into Laroles itself. After a picnic en-route we end our walk with refreshments at a local bar before returning to Mairena. Approx 11.5kms, 4-4.5 hours

  3. Day 3

    Nestled in the valley approx. 400 metres below Mairena is the market town of Ugijar. It is a pleasant downhill walk through the almond and olive groves and through the amazing sandstone rock formations and cliff faces. We have time to explore the small but insightful local museum before enjoying a light lunch of tapas. In the afternoon we visit the award winning bodega of Buenavista Veleta wine for a tour and wine tasting. Approx. 6kms, 1.5-2 hours

  4. Day 4

    Today starts with a walk across the terraces down to Emma and David's farm or finca.  Here, amongst the almond and olive trees is there shelter and yoga Shala which makes a great base from which to explore the several hectares of land picking seasonal produce and with luck, the foraging of the makings of our salad for lunch,  French sorrel, wild asparagus etc.  For those who would like to there will be an hour's introduction to yoga at the Las Chimeneas Shala. Lunch is then a paella cooked outside with the Chimeneas chefs Sole and Conchi and after a suitable pause to digest we finish the day with a climb above the village on the old route that used to be the villagers' route to take their herds of animals to graze in the low Sierra. Approx. 5kms, 2 hours from Mairena to the Shala

  5. Day 5

    We head down to the coast today to visit the bustling city of Almeria.  The drive takes through the wine growing and orange growing area of the Alpuarras to arrive mid morning. Often overlooked, the city has retained its Moorish heritage and we have time to explore the city's amazing food and fish market, see the Alcazaba and cathedral and to enjoy coffee and (optional!) churros. We lunch at a traditional tapas bar in the old town. 

  6. Day 6

    Heading out west from Mairena, once again on the long distance trail GR7, we come to the old silk producing village of Valor. Here we will visit Lola and her traditional village house where she still works on her ancient family looms to produce brightly coloured carpets. As well as an explanation of the silk industry and demonstrations you can also try your hand at spinning and weaving. After a picnic lunch under the old Moorish bridge next to the stream we continue with our walk and before dinner we will pop in to say hello to Adolfo at Mairena's local olive mill with a talk about olive production, olive oil and farming. Approx. 7.5kms, 3.5 hours, Ascent 500m/ Descent 622m

  7. Day 7

    On our last day we drive 20 minutes to the village of Yegen, home of the British writer Gerald Brenan for much of the century after the first world war. On the fringe of the Bloomsbury set, Brenan was visited by both Virginia Woolf and Lytton Strachey as he describes in this book South of Granada, an exceptionally good introduction to life and traditions in the Alpujarras. We are able to see his house before walking La Ruta de Gerald Brenan, which is a dramatic two hour loop beneath the village. We finish the day with a visit to a Sierra ham drying centre with shop before heading back for our final evening. Approx. 3.5kms, 2 hours, Ascent/descent 300m

  8. Day 8

    Saying goodbye to the mountains today, we leave Mairena for our journey to Almeria airport for our flight back to the UK.

Travel Details

  • Return fights from London to Almeria (British Airways or charter)
  • Airport transfers by road c.2hrs30mins
  • Upgrades are available on most flights. For scheduled flights this may be Premium Economy, Business or First Class. Most low-cost carriers also have extra legroom seats. 
  • If direct regional flights are not available, we can often offer add-on flights to a London airport at a competitive rate. Please ask us for details and a competitive quote.

Trip Map

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Our Accommodation on this holiday

Below is the accommodation featured on this holiday. If you are on a multi-centre holiday, these are highlights of the places where we stay. Please refer to your Holiday Information sheet (which can be found under View Departures & Book), for your departure date and for all your accommodation details.

Las Chimeneas, Mairena

We stay at the delightful Las Chimeneas in Mairena which has been lovingly restored by its British owners. The collection of buildings exudes rustic charm and quirky characteristics, with rooms offered in the main house or in one of the three adjoining houses. Wonderful views  can be see from all buildings across the hills to the sea in the distance. Excellent breakfasts and dinners made with local produce are taken here. Lunches are also included in the holiday cost., and maybe a scrumptious picnic made by the hotel, a freshly made paellea or tapas in a traditional restaurant.

Casa las Chimeneas is an extremely spacious house which has been restored in the local style and is furnished with authentic antiques throughout. All rooms have a small balcony or patio and are en suite. They are decorated in a traditional style and offer great comfort. There are plenty of nooks and crannies to sit and relax with a book, a small plunge pool and a terrace with views.

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