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Travel Note A Walker's Holiday: Parque Natural Sierras de Cazorla, Segura, y las Villas


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Location: Cazorla is a mountain gateway town about 50 km. southwest of Ubeda, Jaen Province, Andalucia. (37.908375 N, 2.986858 W)

The Town:
Outdoor activities dominate the the economic life of the own.

The Yerda Castle museum exhibits the usual small town pride in local artifacts, household and artistic. In particular, we liked the tapestries. At the other end of town just outside the town limits, on the way to the Park, is the ruined Iruela Castle. It is worth a visit.

The Plaza de Santa Maria is the centre of the old town. It has a ruined church and many restaurants on the square.

We found little special in the new part of town. It was clean and orderly. The town market was in the basement of a modern building and to our minds short on produce, cheeses and meat.

One outdoor activity we found disappointing was geocaching. There were few caches in town and they were all of the micro variety. The one located at the Iruela Castle was the only worthwhile one. In the Park itself there are a few larger ones but none of special interest.

The Park:
A prudent first stop is the visitor centre in Cazorla at C / Martínez Falero nº 11. Here one can get advice on road conditions, trail maps and suggestions regarding activities that are on in the Park.

In town, one is able to sign up with any of a number of guiding companies that will provide off-roading and other experiences in the Park. We chose to stay on the main roads within the park with our rental car. Many of the roads were gravel or packed earth so caution is advised while driving on them.

Even from the road, one can view many waterfalls and watch golden eagles and griffin vultures soar.

The Park is a real joy for walkers. The trails are well- marked and there are many options for all levels of fitness. Some of our favourite walks were the Boroso River walk, the Segura river walk, along the Guazalamanco Arroyo and the water cave walk. We also dipped our toes at the origin of the Guadalquivir River. Since it was early in the year, the Torre de Vinagre Botanical Centre was not at its best.

Other Day Trips:
Beas de Segura:
One can do a circular drive north through the park then out west to Beas de Segura before turning south to return to Cazorla. Beas de Segura holds special interest for those aware of Teresa of Avila and Juan de la Cruz.

Ubeda and Baeza: The 50 km drive is through olive groves. The cities are known for their Renaissance and Baroque buildings. We found the Olive Oil Interpretation Centre in Ubeda to be very informative. Ubeda's Parador's bar provided a relaxing respite from an afternoon's sight-seeing.

We travelled in early March and found that there were periods of rain each day. Dressing in layers when travelling outside of summer months is suggested.

At the time of our visit, there was a lot of available accommodation. We chose La Orospeda: http://www.oroscazorla.com/ . The hosts were amiable and the apartment clean and adequately furnished and outfitted with cooking utensils. The heat was on a timer that lowered the temperature during the day. It didn't affect us because we were out. I was informed that, if needed, one may ask to have it on during the day.

For the most part we prepared our own meals. One stop at a restaurant inside the park doubled our resolve to “do” picnic lunches. Fresh bread was available close to our place at Panaderia Jose Luis Morillas. Highly recommended!

In Cazorla we dined twice at Meson Leandro. The service and food were first rate. I had wild boar and venison stew and Margaret had fresh trout. Most restaurants specialize in game and local fish.

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