Should I go skiing, or walking, or lay on the beach today?
This is the dilemma I face as I bite into my tostada oozing with grated tomatoes and olive oil at breakfast. It is my second morning at Hotel Los Bérchules and I feel if I don’t make a decision in the next few minutes I may remain relaxed in the chair all day mesmerised by the stunning view of the mountains beyond. I pick up the menu of walks and decide a grade 2 self guided walk would suit my mood and the beautiful weather. The hotel dog, Sammy, nudges my arm and reminds me of a former promise to take her with me. I gather up the lead as her penchant for chasing the neighbouring villagers’ cats might result in a cool reception. We set off armed with a picnic - enough to feed an army - and Sammy looks delighted at the prospect.
Having flown by budget airline and hired a car, I have managed to select a little bit of heaven on earth within four hours of Gatwick. Las Alpujarras, neighbouring the Sierra Nevada National Park in Andalucía, is an area of outstanding natural beauty perfect for trekking and horse-riding. It is no surprise that InnTravel use Hotel Los Bérchules as part of their mountain walking holidays package in Andalucía. A twohour flight to Malaga or Granada is all that is required. A transfer to Hotel Los Bérchules can be pre-arranged and within an hour and a half you can be relaxing by the poolside sipping the local wine or the deliciously cool beer making for the perfect start to your walking holiday in Andalucía.
Whether you are looking for self guided walking holidays or a fully guided walking holiday package, the owners of Hotel Los Bérchules have years of experience and can match your requirements with their local knowledge and access to guides. Nothing can prepare you for the scenery of wild lavender, rock roses, broom and the scent that drifts through the valleys and mountainsides. The criss-crossing of streams and irrigation channels reminds you that you are never far from water and cool surroundings when you need them. Entering the pretty white villages gives you the opportunity to refill your water bottles from the numerous water fountains (agua potable) that have served the villagers and their livestock for centuries. Nearby are open air public washing/laundry rooms which appear to be largely unused but in perfect order.
A walking holiday in Andalucía offers such variety of wildlife. The Las Alpujarras area support ibex and wild boar among the more common animals of hare and badgers. From the Hotel Los Bérchules, eagles can be regularly sighted and hoopoes are not uncommon. The distant sound of bells alerts you to a herd of goats or cows ahead, each wearing a bell, and if they were to organise themselves sufficiently they could enter Britain’s Got Talent and probably win but I will leave that to a colleague of mine whose entry aims to promote handbell ringing.
So you don’t want to walk today? Well head for the snow that you can see above you and join the skiers or check out the beach that you look towards down below the hotel. Or maybe you just want to relax, share tapas, and watch village life unfold, olive by olive… Bliss.