Las Acequias de Pampaneira

Trip Start Aug 30, 2005
Trip End Aug 31, 2006

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Tuesday, November 1, 2005

When my boss announced that we would bridge the gap between Tuesday's holiday and the weekend I was thrilled. My parents were coming that week and I had already taken three days off work. This now gave me nine days off and I had some big plans. We would spend a couple of nights in Malaga and then head off to the village of Capileira in the Sierra Nevada before spending a couple of days in Granada.

Our family has never done a beach holiday, and probably never will. There time with me in Malaga was spent touring the city- walking up to the Alcazaba, visiting the Cathedral and enjoying the best Tapas bars. Wednesday came soon, and after a trip to the airport to rent a car we were on our way to the Sierra Nevada.
My knowledge of the roads was still limited as I hadn't been east of the city. So I chose the longer and far more interesting route along the coast. This was an enjoyable journey, and pleasant in our air conditioned Smartcar. We quickly passed south of Velez-Malaga and through Nerja, with the Sierra Tejeda behind, rising from the sea. We then continued along, through several more coastal towns. Just before Motril, we turned inland and followed the road snaking between the sharp cliffs of a high gorge. As we entered in to las alpujarras the hills rose higher. At Órgiva we began climbing the slopes of the Sierra Nevada itself.
We passed through Lanjarón (whose bottled water I'm drinking now) and then the three villages nestled against the steep slopes of the Pampaneira valley. The first village gave the valley its name, and was the tourist hot spot. Shops selling cured ham, ice creams and crafts lined the road and there was a greater sense of movement than I'd find in the villages above. Bubión was indeed quieter and I cannot remember much of it. Above, a few hundred metres higher was Capileira, the afternoon sun casting a pleasant light on the white buildings.

As my parents where paying our way, I had booked a three star hotel at the top of the village. After dumping our luggage we went for a stroll above the village. The valley was already in the shade and the air was cool, tasting fresh. We walked through green fields, enjoying the mountain air, the sound of birds in the air.
That evening me booked places onto the shuttle bus that went up to the Mirador de Trevelez, which at 2700m would allow us to reach the summit of Mulhacen, which at 3483 is the highest peak on the Iberian Peninsula.
The summit bid the next day was successful. After a good breakfast we were taken up the hair pin turns of the bumpy forest track, all the way listening to a speech on the air. The orator was German, speaking Spanish and English. A nice person, but with no concept of mountains- she feared them. My dad and I may have teased her some, but she gave us good information on the history of the area. She told us about the long Acequias (aqueducts) that supply water to the villages, and of the reforestation efforts.
The next two days where walking in and above the Pampaneira valley, following the Acequias traverse the mountain side. They were a pleasure to stroll beside and were ever changing. They cut through fields, meadows and blissfully shaded forest. In places the beds were dry, where the water had been diverted or sunk underground. For the most part though they bubbled gently along, sometimes more vigorous as the flow went over small rocky cascades. At other times when the ground levelled off they became slow moving and similar to miniature canals. I played the pooh sticks game, and never had better surroundings in which to do it.

Each night we enjoyed fine cuisine: Andlaucían style pizza, spicy sausage soup and on one night fine Moroccan inspired cuscus. The nights where cold, even with warm jackets and before sleep we stopped for coffee and hot chocolate. It was a shame that we only had four days to enjoy the beauty of the Sierra Nevada, on the fifth we descended down in to the valley and made our way to Granada.
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