Andalusia is full of contrasts – or how to get 4 hours adventure for only 1,80 euros each !
Exactly in the month of April the mountain that lies between Mijas and Benalmadena is in full bloom. On Sunday April 21st we decided to repeat a hike from the antennas on top of the Mijas Mountain to Benalmadena Pueblo. Over the years we have made numerous hikes in this mountain – but in April no-one is more beautiful than this one. The object was to enjoy the many wildflowers in bloom just now.
It is easy to find the starting point of the ride. Just head for the antennas on top of the Mijas Mountains.
When you leave Mijas Pueblo, heading for Benalmadena Pueblo, you pass on your left the municipal football stadium “Campo de futbol”. About 100 meters further on, the road turns sharply to the right – but you continue straight ahead. On the right side you now pass the closed water factory – but you continue straight ahead – and up for approximately the next 3.5 km. To your left you will find a suitable parking space (which may accommodate 5-6 cars).
As you drive up there are some hairpin turns – so drive carefully and be aware that many cyclists use this route for mountain practice. There is a constant increase of about 10 degrees over a stretch of 5 km. You start off at 410 meters above sea level at the water factory and end up in 915 meters. Please do not use the horn around the bends. It will only frighten the birds and wild life.
Once the car is safely parked – take the time to go up onto the small ridge behind the parking area. Here is the finest view of Alhaurin and the lush Gualdahorce valley, considered Malaga’s vegetable and fruit garden – over the airport of Malaga (could not spot Helle Hollis) and all the way to Sierra Nevada where the snowy peaks are clearly visible on the horizon.
Now put on your walking shoes – or failing that your sneakers and walk the last 1.5 km on the asphalt towards the antennas. We consider this part of the trip as sheer warm-up – although the views on a good day are fantastic on this part of the trip as well. You will normally be able to see the entire Mijas village, Fuengirola with its Marina, and all the way down to Marbella and on the horizon Gibraltar and the Rif Mountains of Morocco. But just not on this day!
Before coming all the way to the top you will see a lonely antenna on your left hand. Immediately after there is a signpost with this map, which shows all the “official” trails in the mountain towards Benalmadena.
Here we began our hike. The starting point was R6 top left of the map – “Cerro del Moro”. We followed the blue trail until we reached the junction with the green R3 where we began our descent towards Benalmadena. Before we got to the bottom we branched off to the right following the black R4.
The whole trail is well signposted – lucky as we did not meet anyone to ask for directions. Even though it was foggy and grey it was not cold. The entire trail is very well signposted and well defined and you will never be in doubt which way to go. However, we were nearly fooled by graffiti on a pumping station on the R4, indicating we should take a right turn. Ignore it and continue straight. This is the only tricky point of the whole trip, which incidentally was 8 km long and lasted a bit more than 3 hours. Not because it was a difficult trail – but because there was so much to study and admire along the way.
We started out at 11:00 hrs. in 15 degrees and a very thick fog – or maybe it was really a cloud. Of course it was a shame with the weather as the views are so amazing, but as we had set out to enjoy the flowers and plants we did not mind so much. Along the way it also cleared up so much that we arrived in Benalmadena in 23 degrees and bright sunshine. Nice!
At the beginning, underfoot is not very good – with lots of rolling stones, so you need to concentrate on where you put your feet. After about 500 meters the path widens and the underfoot improves greatly and from here on you will not be acrobatically challenged. As we set out in 915 meters altitude and end in Benalmadena in 247 meters – a fall of 668 vertical meters over 8 km. – the hike is mostly downhill – so no major challenges here neither. I took photos of more than 50 different wild flowers .Not really that hard to find here. But to pick them is a no-no!
The wild orchids are not that difficult to find in the Mijas Mountain. On the way down we came across a spring of clear, clean water and a small basin. Benalmadena obviously gets part of its drinking water from this spring. Nice and refreshing as the temperature now reached well above 20 degrees.
The trail ends in a meadow of flowers – almost at the heights of the National highway N340, where a tunnel leads under the road and into a residential area. From here we continued further down a few hundred meters – until we found the main street in Benalmadena.
The trail ends in a flower meadow. We went right for a few hundreds meters and found a nice restaurant where we enjoyed a well-deserved lunch. There are many restaurants to choose from, both cheap and good quality.
We took the bus back to the car. The line 121 goes from Torremolinos to Mijas and passes trough Benalmadena approximately every hour mid afternoon on Sundays. The ticket only cost 1,80€ which did not break the budget.
We got off at the football stadium in Mijas and walked the four kilometers on the asphalted road back to retrieve the car.
All in all a fantastic day. If we had brought our own sandwiches we would have had 4 hours of wonderful experiences and entertainment for the price of a bus ticket – €1,80 – each!
We talked on the way home about how contrasting Andalusia is. Naturally the weather was contrasting. In the span of 3 hours we needed both jackets and then sun tops. Also the landscape is very much contrasting. Within a few kilometers you have the concrete desert of the coast and the natural beauty of the mountain. And finally the seasons are very much contrasting. What today is lush and green will be burned to straw in a few months. Pity those who only experience the coast!
Hans Hugo From
Helle Hollis car rental