Due to its strategic location, Benalup-Casas Viejas is the perfect starting point to be in the province. Doing so, we can get into the Park of Los Alcornocales, of which Benalup-Casas Viejas is considered to be a natural door (many of the suggested tours are inside of the park), crossing the park of Los Alcornocales we can get to the route of the white villages. If what we like is beach, in less than half an hour, we can enjoy it. Very near from it, we find Conil de la Frontera, Barbate, Vejer de la Frontera or Zahara de los Atunes. We can also visit the three big cores of population of the peninsula; Jerez, Cádiz and Algeciras, finding all of them less than one hour far from the locality. Next, you have these links to some of these localities in the case you are interested to visit them.
Hozgarganta River Route
We can do this route departing from the Hotel “El Acebuchal” in the township of San José del Valle towards the Port of Galiz (a crossroads towards Ubrique, Jerez and Jimena). At about 9km we pass by the Camping Area “La Sauceda”, which belong to the municipal township of Cortes de la Frontera, a wonderful place to take a break and even do hiking, visiting the old village (nowadays they are huts for rural accommodation) and the remains of the church.
We continue until reaching the viewpoint of the Natural Park “Las Asomadillas”, with good views of the Hozgarganta valley and about 5km far, we get to Jimena de la Frontera where we will look for a located path between the White Cross and the Camping of Los Alcornocales, of easy access and localization. This camping is a place to immerse yourself in innumerable possibilities of recreational, touristic, cultural and educational uses. From this place, you can access to the roman roads, painting caves, water canyons, all the flora and fauna that defines the LAST MEDITERRANEAN JUNGLE.
Throughout the path of the White Cross the descent towards the Hozgarganta river starts, the last unspoilt river of Spain, and few meters far, we will find the Rural House Gaitán Watermill, an inhabited construction where you can see: the channel of the water entry to the interior of the watermill, the millstones and the exit channel returning to the river again.
Carrying on the riverbed there is a stoned crossroad whose path to the left leads to the steeped Vereda de la Encubierta, the historical centre of Jimena and the path to the right, among traditional vegetable gardens, lead us to the Mill Felipe, abandoned at the mid 20th Century. In this area it is worthy to visit the cork oaks, the wild olive trees and the mastics as well as the gall oaks, the hundred-year-old carob trees, being also remarkable the sighting of griffon vultures.
We continue through the path downriver and we get to the old channel of the Royal Factory of Artillery (dates from 1870 and is popularly known as the Factory of the Bombs), which supplied for projectiles used in one of the sieges to Gibraltar.
It fell into disuse few years later due to the lack of iron and the irregularity of the river water level. It had houses and other facilities. It is 650 meters long and its state of preservation is very good.
This channel ends in the old Mill of Rodete which currently is a private museum.
Next, through a stone pavement we will get to Jimena de la Frontera, a population declared Historical-Artistic Ensemble where we can visit its Arabic fortress, with its splendid gate of the caliph; the subterranean reservoirs communicated through galleries; the churches of the Coronada –Baroque – and the Misericordia church –Gothic- (Centre of Visitors), and the convent of Los Ángeles, besides several caves and shelters with painting caves we can find in this township. In Jimena we can accommodate in the following Rural Houses: El Consuelo, Las Hierbas, La Tahona Vieja, La Casa Grande, El Antiguo Juzgado, Cortijo Román and try its magnificent gastronomy in Restaurants like El Cuenca, El Anón or El Ventorrillero.
A point of special interest is the station of Jimena de la Frontera, located in its western borders, from where you can do a green route – it is suggested by bike – which will lead us in first place, to Castellar of roman origin, with its Arabic fortress and magnificent façade. We can take some rest and get energy eating in the Restaurant El Aljibe, located in the full centre of the Castle and even getting accommodation in the Rural Houses we can find there.
In the municipal township of Castellar it is located the huge estate of La Almoraima, and old inheritance of the dukes of Medinaceli, considered the largest estate of Europe. It is located in la Almoraima, the house-convent of the same name, today turned into the Hotel-Restaurant where we can enjoy of its accommodation similar to a real religious retreat.
The Bull Route, the Venison Paradise
This route recollects along with its traditionalism and its artistic monumentality of real valor, the singularity that throughout the tour you can see the diverse cattle industries of bulls that graze in their fields, being the wild bull in their natural field a picture card of incredible beauty.
Starting from Jerez de la Frontere, it includes the cities and villages of San José del Valle, Paterna de Rivera, Medina Sidonia, Alcalá de los Gazules, Benalup-Casas Viejas, Los Barrios, Castellar de la Frontera, Jimena de la Frontera, San Roque, Algeciras and Tarifa.
In its natural surroundings there are located several of the most important cattle industries of Spain, linked to the most representative family names related to bull fighting.
So we can cite here the estate of Rehuelga (the Buendía family), where its family members practice the art of the fighting the bull on horseback with a lance, el Carrascal de Alvaro Domecq, in this place from the road many Saturdays you can see practices of bullying and knocking bulls, or the Fermeño de Francisco Carrasco, the Fermeñillo of Carlos Marco Núñez, the Majaverde of Juan Pedro Domecq, the Aguijón, the Jardinillo, Montebajo or the popular cattle industries of Jandilla or La Cantaora of Isabel Pantoja, both very near of Benalup-Casas Viejas.
If the green fields are the domain of the wild livestock, the Sierra is the domain of the venison. Estates dedicated to the hunting exploitation of venison or wild boar abound in the area, overall at the borders of the marsh of the rivers of Barate and Celemín. We can cite estates like el Porretal, el Alisal, Zapatero, las Algámitas, el Sinchao, MajaVerde, Valle Hermoso, Zanona, Isla Verde, los Tejones or el Monasterio del Cuervo. Throughout the strolls in this area is very frequent to find them and the spectacle is sublime in the month of September coinciding with the Berrea.
Bulls in the field
The beauty of the picture card can be appreciated throughout the route.
Throughout the strolls in this area is very frequent to find them and the spectacle is sublime in the month of September coinciding with the Berrea.
Route from Castle to Castle
It starts in Tarifa, a township that unites a littoral of enviable beaches and an interior area of a unique natural richness.
In the city the Castle of los Guzmanes, built in the 10th Century by Abd-ar-Rahman III, although it preserves the name of its defendant in 1924, Mr. Alonso de Guzmán. Its recent restoration allows a comfortable and illustrative visit of its long and fiery history.
The historical centre of Tarifa is surrounded by the exterior walls of the castle, presents a typical urban planning with narrow alleys. It also stands out the gothic church of San Mateo or the church of San Francisco, both from the 16th Century.
Leaving behind us this beautiful city through the famous doo gate of Jerez, next to the Point of Tourist Information, we go towards the crossroads with the road N-340 in the direction of Cádiz until reaching the crossroad of Bolonia. Following the road we get to the area of the Roman Ruins of Baelo Claudia. These ruins date from the end of the 2nd Century B.C. Its origin is very linked to the trade with North Africa and as an administrative centre, being the industry of salting fish and the derived sauces (the famous “Garum”) the most important ones. This made the city to achieve some kind of strength under the mandate of the emperor Claudio, who gave it the status of Roman Township.
We keep on going through the road N-340 in the direction of Vejer, until reaching the crossroad of Facinas and from there to the population with the same name where we can visit the Divina Pastora Church.
Later, we take the road of Facinas until the Iron Brdige, passing by the recreational area of Los Tornos, (for passing by this stretch, it is necessary the use of 4x4 vehicles if you are not going to do it by foot, besides the license of the Office of the Natural Park of Los Alcornocales).
Next, we get to the road 381 and in the direction of Los Barrios at the left bank we take the crossroad towards Jimena de la Frontera. After 20km, signposted with signs of the GR-7, we get to the Inn of Los Timbales, where we can try dishes of the region. At about 12km far, we pass by the crossroad of La Almoraima, where we can stop to visit
The House-Convent with the same name, where we can get accommodation at the arrival to Castellar de la Frontera, so we can visit the Castle-Fortress and the Information Point of the Natural Park of Los Alcornocales. Here we can also eat in the Restaurant “El Alijbe”, where we can try its magnificent dishes of hunting meat like deer, roe deer, wild boar, partridge bird and we can sleep in the Rural House of this township.
We continue our route through the Vereda Real which connects Castellar to Jimena de la Frontera, this canyon is 17 km long and we can do it by foot or by 4x4 as it is marked with signposts of the Gr-7, reaching the bridge of the Pasada de Alcalá in Jimena de la Frontera, in this township we can visit the Castle and the tour will end.
Route El Picacho Path
The current route is recommended to do it by bike. However, the visitor can also choose to do it combining a vehicle and by foot.
This route is part of the township of Paterna de Rivera, a population located on a wide valley in which many cattle industries of wild livestock graze in. It comes from this place one of the singing types of flamenco, la Petenera. In Paterna we can get accommodation and try its rich gastronomy in the Hotel-Restaurant El Perro de Paterna (where we can try dishes like the sauced hare, noodles “majaos”, crumbles and Spanish oyster and to take a walk through its narrow streets.
At about 5km far from Paterna the Arabic Castle of Gigonza is located, a fortress that has a fence, a weapons courtyard, and a castle itself. It has squared floor and Mudejar and Renaissance architecture elements.
Then, we can visit the locality of San José del Valle and in it, the Hotel-Restaurant El Acebuchal, which shelter and interesting agricultural-hunting project as well as a permanent shooting ground of hunt and training.
We take the road Paterna-Alcalá, with a distance of 16km. Next, we get to the crossroad of Ubrique, turn to the left taking the road towards Port Galiz, at about 15 km, we pass by the Nature Classroom “El Picacho”, at about 500 meters we find the recreational area El Picacho, a wonderful place for taking some rest and spend a good day being in contact with nature (following the road and approximately at 1km far and turning to the right we enter into the path that lead us to the Shelter El Picacho. From here we can use the bike, besides the license (necessary) to do the route which can be requested at the Office of the Natural Park.
Another option is to do this route by foot starting from the recreational area taking the path that passes by next to the canyon of the Barbate river whose place is popularly known as Puerto Oscuro. We walk first through the left side and then cross to the right, being always accompanied with a forest made up of gall oaks, willows and alder trees. We can see the flight of predatory birds below the cliffs of the Picacho and if we are lucky, we will get to see some deer or roe deer between the scrubs.
From this point, we start to go down. Passing by under the Tajo Sancho, we can see beautiful views of the Patriste valley and Alcalá de los Gazules, with the old flour mills of the mountain below our feet. At the summit of the Tajo Mountain we will see the location of “Las Buitreras” a shelter that the vultures gave their name.
Next we can go up to the brook of Alberite to enjoy the beauty this homogeneous forest of cork oaks and gall oaks offer us above the “canutos” of Alberite. The “canutos” are valleys with V form made up at the springs of the river, also known with the name of canyons. In their habitat, we find a special micro climate characterized by a high humidity, a permanent shady spot and a constant and soft temperature throughout the year.
From here we will get to the port of El Membrillo where we will go down until the brook of La Peguera. Alder trees and gall oaks predominate in the forest gallery, the ashes, ivies and vines acquire here an extraordinary development covering trunks and sometimes standing above the trees. The diversity of fauna, which is an attraction to frequent this place, is difficult to see due to the leafiness of vegetation, as abundant as its flora.
We leave behind La Peguera and exit to the road A-381 in the direction of Alcalá de los Gazules and before arriving to this village we can take some rest in La Palmosa Service Area where the Hotel-Restaurant Los Corzos is located. Few kilometers far we get into Alcalá de los Gazules. It is located on a hill, which has beautiful squares and buildings, like the Parochial Church of San Jorge or the Shrine of La Virgen de los Santos. From its Muslims past the route of its streets has been kept. In Alcalá we can try its exceptional gastronomy made up of dishes like hot gazpacho, collard greens, asparagus soups, hunting meats, pestiños (honey-coated fritters) or torta de pellizco in Restaurants like Pizarro and El Campanero and if we want to get accommodation we can do it in San Jorge Hotel. Another interesting visit and lodging is Los Gazules campsite, which has huts and bungalows. In this place we can also make contact with the enterprise Amatur and we can make several outdoor activities like hiking, climbing, mountain bike, horse strolls, kayaking, canyoning, sightseeing of flora and fauna, etc.
When we reach this point, the current route will end.
Ruta of the Runner -Dos Bahias-
This route of great landscape and ecological variety means a distance of about 60km and its route coincides in great part with the Green Corridor “Dos Bahías” that connects the Bays of Algeciras and Cádiz, through diverse cattle roads.
We start in Medina Sidonia, a city with 3000 years of history from its Phoenician foundation onwards. Its current urban planning belongs to the roman colony once it was. A prove of this is the wonderful preservation of its sewers and pavements. The Puerta del Sol, Arco de la Pastora and Arco de Belén still talk of the Moorish presence. It stands out the Parochial Church of Sta. María de la Coronada, of gothic style with an amazing altarpiece from the 16th Century, in which different biblical scenes are represented. It is remarkable due to its great value the image of the Cristo del Perdón, made by Pedro Roldan.
In this township we can try the representative dishes of the area like rabbit, Spanish oyster thistle, and of course, the delicious pastry made in Medina among which the alfajores (pastry sweet) are the best exponents, but also the yemas and amarguillos. Among the most representative restaurants we can outline La Duquesa Inn, Cádiz Bar, and El Duque Restaurant. This township is also a good place for resting and accommodating in the Rural House of Los Balcones (typical majestic house of Medina Sidonia).
We leave behind us Medina Sidonia until arriving into the historical place of Ventorrillo del Carbón which dates from 1804. From here onwards, we border the city through its lower part until getting the crossroads of Naveros, after passing by the doors of the shrine of the Saint Martyrs, a temple of Visigothic origin, until arriving to the roundabout of entrance to the city. We take the direction to Benalup-Casas Viejas located in the geographical centre of the south half of the province of Cádiz, which is located on the hill of Las Grullas, next to the lagoon of La Janda. Among its most representative monuments it is remarkable the Tower of the Castle of Benalup, known as “La Morita” of Mudejar style, being an strategic and military settlement. It is also remarkable the artistic patrimony of the Church of Ntra. Sra. del Socorro which was built in 1915. In this township we can accommodate in the Hotel-Farmhouse Las Grullas or we can try the rich gastronomy in the restaurant of this hotel. By continuing the route, we find the road that leads us to the dam of the Celemín Marsh, where conjoins the road that lead us from Benalup to Los Barrios and we will be lead to the Recreational Area El Celemín. In this point we can take some rest or we can wait until arriving to Las Lagunetas, a rural core that is a meeting point, leisure and recreation, to which we will have arrived after leaving behind us the entrance to the caves and the prehistoric remains of the Tajo de las Figuras, a set of caves with painting caves of extraordinary interest and which is considered by some historians the most important painting cave of the South of Spain, due to the number of paintings, their quality and diversity of historical periods.
A little bit further, we find the Forestal House of Valdeinfierno next to the Brook of la Palanca. Continuing through this path we find the road A-381, which connects Jerez with Los Barrios, at about 35 km far we arrive to the township of Los Barrios (passing by the recreational area of Charco Redondo). In this township we can visit the Church of San Isidro Labrador of Baroque style from the 18th Century, caves of Bacinete (with prehistoric representations), the Casa del Pósito from the 18th Century and the House of Los Urrutia (18th C.) so we can accommodate in the Royal Hotel, eat in El Frenazo Inn or in the Al-Andalus restaurant, apart from doing the environmental activities that the enterprise Ojaranzo organizes.
Distance: 60 Km.