The peaks of the Sierras de Tejeda, Almijara y Alhama Mountains

Sierras de Tejeda Almijara y Alhama

  • Region: Andalucia
  • Provinces: Granada / Málaga
  • Declared a Natural Park: 1999
  • Park surface area: 40,663 hectares
  • Z.E.P.A

Points of interest

The parkland of Sierras de Tejeda Almijara y Alhama is limited in the south east by the Mediterranean sea and rises in craggy mountains towards the north west. 52% of the park is in Granada province with 48% in Málaga province. The combination of altitudes and from sea shore to the peak of La Maroma at 2,080m encourages a diversity of vegetation, including some endemic species.

Add to this that the geological structure changes between limestone giving rise to dolomitic marble, quartzite and gneiss, which each hold different plant ranges. When the marble is eroded by the weather a very fine white sand is left.

The plentiful wildlife is dominated by wild mountain goats and birds of prey.

The area in Málaga province is known as Axarquia and the famous cave of Nerja is situated here. Canillas de Aceituno area is replete with natural caves, the main one being the Fajara, four kilometers away, with tunnels as long as 500m in length.


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Resin extraction from pine tree trunks and charcoal made from partially burning felled or pollarded trees are traditional land uses. Irrigated land is used to grow vegetables, citrus and fruit trees.

There are also vineyards and almond groves. Many farmhouses have areas for drying out the raisins. There are traditional crafts products of marble and esparto grass.

Flora

The exposed high, rocky slopes hold what is known as the hedgehog zone due to the low level prickly plants including Vella spinosa, Prunus prostrata, Erinacea anthyllis, Astragalus granatensis, Echinospartum boissieri, Hormathophylla spinosa and Genista lobelii.

On the upper slopes of the sierras is Mediterranean woodland with Junipers, Cork, Holm, Gall and Pyrenean oaks. At one time dense areas of Yew tree (Taxus baccata) grew but have been cut back to allow more grazing. The remaining ones are the best example in Andalucia and the furthest south on the Iberian Peninsular.

Some of the plants that grow on the dolomitic sand are Toadflax (Linaria amoi), Knapweeds (Centaurea bombycina and Centaurea prolongi), Wallflower (Erysimum myriophyllum), Kidney vetch (Anthyllis tejedensis), Hippocrepis eriocarpa, Fairy foxglove (Erinus alpinus), Silene boryi subsp tejedensis, Butterwort (Pinguicola submediterranea), Hieracium texedense, Purple columbine (Aquilegia vulgaris), Saxifrage (Saxifraga erioblasta), Draba hispanica, Andryala agardhii, Odontites longiflora, Milkwort (Polygala boissieri) and Iberis grossi.

Pines tree woods are dominated by Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis) and Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) with Stone pine (Pinus pinea) Black pine (Pinus nigra subsp. clusiana) and occasional Joint Pines (Ephedra fragilis).

The shrubs and undergrowth include Dwarf fan palm (Chamaerops humilis), Maytenus senegalensis, Osyris quadripartita, Cneorum tricoccum and Boxwood (Buxus balerarica). Characteristic of the coastal zones are, Whitebeam (Sorbus aria), Amelanchier ovalis, Cotoneaster granatensis, Adenocarpus decorticans, Quercus pyrenaica and Acer granatense.

Fauna

There are large numbers of Spanish ibex which have made an excellent recovery in numbers since hunting of them has been strictly controlled. Another success story is the Red squirrel which only arrived in recent years but has already spread to both extremes of the mountain range.

Most noteworthy are the population of eagles including Golden, Bonelli’s, Booted and Short-toed eagles, other raptors are Peregrine falcon, Goshawk and Kestrel. Listen out for nocturnal Red-necked Nightjar and Nightjar.

On the rocky outcrops look for Black wheatear, Black-eared wheatear and Wheatear as well as Alpine accentor, Rock bunting, Rock thrush and Blue rock thrush. Near water are Nightingales, Golden orioles, Warblers, Dippers and Grey wagtails.

Also in the area

  • Once a famous Moorish stronghold, the town of Alhama de Granada has hot sulphurous spa waters which reach over 44C.
  • Nerja cave was discovered in 1959 and is 4,823 metres long. The lower galleries are open to the public. There are 8 or more halls with the largest being The Hall of the Cataclysm which is more than 100 metres long and 50 metres wide and over 30 metres high. Wall paintings found inside the caves date from the Paleolithic and post-Paleolithic periods while skeletal remains and artifacts show that they were inhabited from about 25,000 BC up until the Bronze Age.

Information/Visitors Centers

La Resinera (Turn off the GR-SO-16 road between the villages of Arenas del Rey and Fornes at the signposted exit for La Resinera. The facility is further along the this turn-off, about half way (approximately four kilometres) between the two villages.)

The impressive mountainous massif of the Sierras de Tejeda, Almijara y Alhama Nature Park is marked by the whitish colour of the abundant marble existent in the area. The sandy soils produced by the decomposition of the marble provide the perfect habitat for the cluster pine (pinus pinaster sub mesgensis). This species thrived so much that its resin became a lucrative source of income for the local population, so much so that the factory opened in the area by the Unión Resinera Española only closed its doors in 1975.

Today the old chapel and school which once belonged to the factory complex house the La Resinera information point. From this outstanding location visitors can learn about the resin secretion process and about other resources which once provided or continue to provide a living for the inhabitants of the Nature Park. They are also invited to explore the historical legacy of the different cultures that have passed through this frontier area, especially the Moors. Other sections offer information to help visitors interpret the wild landscape of the Sierra and to understand how so many endemic species find shelter among the area’s peaks and gorges.


The Botanical Garden of Detunda (Nerja Cave) can be found next to the Cueva de Nerja, in Maro, a small village close to the town of Nerja.


Visitor information centre in Sedella. (Address: c/ Villa del Castillo nº 1, Sedella)

This visitor centre is located in the town of Sedella and is a particularly well suited place to discover the values of the Sierras of Tejeda, Almijara and Alhama Natural Park, as well as the role this unique protected space plays within the Network of Natural Areas of Andalusia.

The centre also features an interactive model, a lookout window and different types of museum displays; these elements make it possible for visitors to learn about the living beings in the natural park by giving an overview of its different landscapes, from the lowlands to the rough mountain peaks which are constantly being whipped by the wind.

The audiovisual room plays a short documentary on the nature of the park which complements the information concerning the colonisation of this territory. The documentary highlights the most important historical moments, the traces of which still remain thanks to the rich historical and cultural heritage that these places possess.


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