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Search 69,459 Camino Questions

Winter Camino in Andalusia – but which one? (Answer: Via Serrana)

Time of past OR future Camino
Ingles, F+M, Salvador, Norte, V.Serr., Fr.Leopoldo
I just started planning for a short spontaneous Camino (my third). This time for two weeks in December in Andalusia, because of the weather and because I want to refresh my memories of this picturesque region where I traveled a lot two decades ago.

I think there are 4 possible choices:
  • Camino Sur and beyond: Huelva-Sevilla-Zafra
  • Camino Estrecho & Via Augusta: Algeciras-Cádiz-Sevilla
  • Via Serrana: Gibraltar-Ronda-Sevilla
  • A part of the Camino Mozarabe, preferably including Granada
I am fully aware that I will hardly find any infrastructure for pilgrims (albergues) and that I will probably not meet other pilgrims at this time of the year. Which is okay, I like solitude.

Since I like to complete a camino, spend at least one day by the sea and prefer terrain that is not completely flat, I tend towards the Via Serrana. Unfortunately gronze.com has no information published about this camino, but I have downloaded the fabulous Johnny Walker Guide for this camino.

Any thoughts or recommendations? My travel time will be between St. Nicholas Day and Christmas. Thanks in advance!
 
Technical backpack for day trips with backpack cover and internal compartment for the hydration bladder. Ideal daypack for excursions where we need a medium capacity backpack. The back with Air Flow System creates large air channels that will keep our back as cool as possible.

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I just started planning for a short spontaneous Camino (my third). This time for two weeks in December in Andalusia, because of the weather and because I want to refresh my memories of this picturesque region where I traveled a lot two decades ago.

I think there are 4 possible choices:
  • Camino Sur and beyond: Huelva-Sevilla-Zafra
  • Camino Estrecho & Via Augusta: Algeciras-Cádiz-Sevilla
  • Via Serrana: Gibraltar-Ronda-Sevilla
  • A part of the Camino Mozarabe, preferably including Granada
I am fully aware that I will hardly find any infrastructure for pilgrims (albergues) and that I will probably not meet other pilgrims at this time of the year. Which is okay, I like solitude.

Since I like to complete a camino, spend at least one day by the sea and prefer terrain that is not completely flat, I tend towards the Via Serrana. Unfortunately gronze.com has no information published about this camino, but I have downloaded the fabulous Johnny Walker Guide for this camino.

Any thoughts or recommendations? My travel time will be between St. Nicholas Day and Christmas. Thanks in advance!
All the choices sound wonderful! I've only done the VDLP and the Mozarabe (Granada-Merida) so I can't help you decide. I do look forward to the answers you get though :). I found the infrastructure for both quite good but then again I'm happy with a bed, a roof over my head and a (warm) shower.

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My wife and I have made most of our arrangements to walk the Camino Mozarabe starting in Almeria on February 25 and ending in Cordoba. Except for the cities we have not pre-booked accommodations. From what I have read so far, I am not too concerned about finding a bed. We are happily anticipating warmer weather than here in Alaska. Buen Camino
 
I too am pondering my options for a week or so walk in December - so the comments here are of direct interest. My first idea was the Mozarabe from Malage to Cordoba - but it appears the albergue in Almogia is shut (at least the Facebook page suggests that this is the case) and the Posada is apparently operating just as a restaurant now. So I started to consider walking Seville to Merida again - I did it last November (and subsequently walked to Salamanca and then on to Astorga) and loved it (think it was possibly may favourite stretch of the VDLP), so walking it again appeals. But I then came across the Via Augusta - few albergues but it seems sufficient hostels/pensions/cheap hotels. Have seen a few negative comments re the views - so I might start exploring your other options. Whatever you chose - buen camino.
 
I just started planning for a short spontaneous Camino (my third). This time for two weeks in December in Andalusia, because of the weather and because I want to refresh my memories of this picturesque region where I traveled a lot two decades ago.

I think there are 4 possible choices:
  • Camino Sur and beyond: Huelva-Sevilla-Zafra
  • Camino Estrecho & Via Augusta: Algeciras-Cádiz-Sevilla
  • Via Serrana: Gibraltar-Ronda-Sevilla
  • A part of the Camino Mozarabe, preferably including Granada
I am fully aware that I will hardly find any infrastructure for pilgrims (albergues) and that I will probably not meet other pilgrims at this time of the year. Which is okay, I like solitude.

Since I like to complete a camino, spend at least one day by the sea and prefer terrain that is not completely flat, I tend towards the Via Serrana. Unfortunately gronze.com has no information published about this camino, but I have downloaded the fabulous Johnny Walker Guide for this camino.

Any thoughts or recommendations? My travel time will be between St. Nicholas Day and Christmas. Thanks in advance!
Some random recollections and thoughts:
I walked the Serrana this spring (third week of April) on the way to Muxía. You are correct about solitude; I saw one other hiker. One day was brutal cold and windy on the plains. Two nice canyons to walk through north of El Colmenar. A train runs along part of the Via, so one could use it if desired/necessary. I didn’t. Ronda is quite nice. North of Olvera is a 10-15 km stretch along abandoned RR tracks with about 20 tunnels of varying length. The only hostal open in Montellano was Hostal Bobi. Hostals are nice accommodations: reasonable price (~ 30 euro), clean, central location. There were a couple stream fording spots: one a couple kms before San Martin (very slippery, use caution), another before Torre Alháquime (no prob). Benign cattle everywhere, but ran across one loose bull. The walk north of Utrera was mostly forgettable. Food and water were no problem; I carried 1 1/2 liters max. Have accommodations arranged a day ahead, using Booking.com and AirBnb apps. I ended up sleeping out one night. I passed through the week following Easter, which put a crunch on accommodations. Xmas could be similar - just a thought. I stayed in La Linea; Gibraltar was much more expensive, but worth a day to explore. Folks were very nice along the way. I walked it in 7 days. My pedometer recorded 260 km/160 miles, which is more than other sources say, which I think are underestimates. I enjoyed the walk. Ask if you have specific questions.
 
A selection of Camino Jewellery
I have generally heard not great things about the Via Augusta though I don't have any personal experience with it. The Via Serrana sounds good!

I have also heard that the walk from Cadiz to Sevilla is a bit mind-numbing. I walked with someone (an experienced pilgrim) on the VDLP who wished he had not bothered with it.

I need to look up the Via Serrana!
 
Even in Andalucía it can get cold, especially so inland and at altitude, it rains occasionally as well.
The route from Algeciras to Ronda is a great trail, climbs to 1000m, Ronda has a lot of history, culture, restaurants. Gets busy at weekends, a haunt of Ernest Hemmingway & Orson Wells.
No idea how the Camino runs north of Ronda but it should be far more interesting than Cádiz to Sevilla.
Direct flights Hamburg - Sevilla may still be operating in December. Bus & train options to Algeciras.
Visit Gibraltar for a taste of faded British colonial history and to stock up on Marmite, baked beans & tea.
Buen camino, let us know which you choose and how it goes.
 
I was all set to walk the Camino de Gran Canaria in a couple of weeks but a TAP cabin crew strike (coupled with TAP's terrible customer service) led to me having to cancel today. So suddenly I am casting about for a southern camino to do just like @Umwandert and the Via Serrana could fit the bill! I'll have a think about it over the next couple of days.
 
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€60,-
I just started planning for a short spontaneous Camino (my third). This time for two weeks in December in Andalusia, because of the weather and because I want to refresh my memories of this picturesque region where I traveled a lot two decades ago.

I think there are 4 possible choices:
  • Camino Sur and beyond: Huelva-Sevilla-Zafra
  • Camino Estrecho & Via Augusta: Algeciras-Cádiz-Sevilla
  • Via Serrana: Gibraltar-Ronda-Sevilla
  • A part of the Camino Mozarabe, preferably including Granada
I am fully aware that I will hardly find any infrastructure for pilgrims (albergues) and that I will probably not meet other pilgrims at this time of the year.
All of your suggestions have their good points. I especially like to start my caminos by swimming out of the sea.

I recently enjoyed the Sur, but really only once past Rio Tinto and up into the glorious Sierra de Aracena. There are a couple of polideportivos and one albergue between Huelva and Zafra. I met no other pilgrims before Zafra.

I did the Estrecho from Tarífa to La Linea and then the Serrana to Seville. From Gibraltar to Ronda and beyond is utterly spectacular. The two days before Seville (shared with the Augusta) were flat and horrible (but I come from the uplands and hate flat; others do not). I met no other pilgrims.

The Mozárabe from Almería has by far the best pilgrim infrastructure thanks to its indefatigable and highly efficient network of amigos, and at least 6 excellent albergues between Almería and Granada. I never met any other pilgrims on the two times I've walked it (once starting in early December), but there is a strong risk that you may not enjoy it in solitude.

There is a fifth choice, which I have yet to walk: the Málaga version of the Mozárabe, joining the Almería branch at Baena.

The pic is of the Sierra Nevada from near Tocón de Quéntar, on the Mozárabe from Almería, on December 7, 2019.

DSC_1686.jpg
 
And the winner is... Via Serrana!

Thanks to everyone for all the information, opinions and experiences. I've made my decision now: I'll fly to Malaga, take a bus to La Linea and start the Via Serrana on December 9th. I'm sticking with the 10 day plan outlined in the 2018 Johnny Walker Guide.

The accommodation situation in general (in summer) now seems better than described in the guidebook. However, due to the winter, booking.com only offers one really expensive option (>120 euros) in Jimena and only one in Jimeira de Libar. I have therefore decided to spend 3 nights in El Colmenar (Gaucin) where there are more options. That means for a few days I'll be commuting by train, which conveniently runs along the camino. So I can walk the most demanding section of the Via Serrana (stage 4, El Colmenar to Jimera de Libar) without a backpack. I have booked all accommodation for the first week to Ronda. The second week seems less demanding and less complicated in terms of accommodation.

I look forward to a new camino adventure and will keep you posted.
 
And the winner is... Via Serrana!
Great - buen camino!

It turns out that, thanks in part to this thread, I am also about to set out on the same camino. To make a long story short, I had planned the Camino di Gran Canaria in early Dec but a TAP cabin crew strike and TAP's subsequent inflexibility forced me to cancel it, literally the day after you started this thread. I have a couple of weeks free until Dec 10, so I also started casting about for a camino and landed on this one too! Thanks for the inspiration! I leave Lisbon for Sevilla on Sunday, and then onwards to La Línea / Gibraltar on Monday, starting walking on Tuesday. I'm also planning the JW 10-day itinerary.

However, due to the winter, booking.com only offers one really expensive option (>120 euros) in Jimena and only one in Jimeira de Libar. I have therefore decided to spend 3 nights in El Colmenar (Gaucin) where there are more options. That means for a few days I'll be commuting by train, which conveniently runs along the camino.
I also saw that about Jimena but on Google Maps there seem to be quite a few more options, including Casa Henrietta at €60. Personally I don't like taking transport so I will make do with whatever I can find there. I have found places to stay at the end of every stage but only booked Sevilla/La Línea/San Martín so far. Since I am fairly locked into the itinerary (returning to Lisbon the day before I have to do some work), maybe I should just go ahead and make bookings throughout before I leave on Sunday.

This is what I have noted down for stages/accommodation:
  1. Tue 29-Nov: La Linea - San Martín del Tesorillo 27.8 km - Hostel Sabana €40 BOOKED
  2. Wed 30-Nov: San Martín - Jimena de la Frontera 18.32km - one place on Booking but €139, Casa Henrietta from €60, lots of places on Google Maps
  3. Thu 1-Dec: Jimena - El Colmenar 18.42km - Las Buitreras €43 BOOKED
  4. Fri 2-Dec: El Colmenar - Estación Jimera de Líber 22.83km - Hotel Rural Inz-Almaraz €38 BOOKED
  5. Sat 3-Dec: Estación Jimera de Líber - Ronda 16.43km - Hotel Morales €30 BOOKED
  6. Sun 4-Dec: Ronda - Olvera 27.68km - Olvera B&B hostel €35 BOOKED
  7. Mon 5-Dec: Olvera - Coripe 24.63km - Pension Coripe €60 Booking
  8. Tue 6-Dec: Coripe - El Coronil 29.52km - Hotel Don Juan €33 Booking
  9. Wed 7-Dec: El Coronil - Utrera 19.32km - lots of options
  10. Thu 8-Dec: Utrera - Sevilla 34-35km
 
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The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
This is what I have noted down for stages/accommodation:
  1. Tue 29-Nov: La Linea - San Martín del Tesorillo 27.8 km - Hostel Sabana €40 BOOKED
  2. Wed 30-Nov: San Martín - Jimena de la Frontera 18.32km - one place on Booking but €139, Casa Henrietta from €60, lots of places on Google Maps
  3. Thu 1-Dec: Jimena - El Colmenar 18.42km - Las Buitreras €43 Booking
  4. Fri 2-Dec: El Colmenar - Estación Jimera de Líber 22.83km - Hotel Rural Inz-Almaraz €37 Booking
  5. Sat 3-Dec: Estación Jimera de Líber - Ronda 16.43km - two places €35-40 Booking
  6. Sun 4-Dec: Ronda - Olvera 27.68km - three places €40 or under Booking
  7. Mon 5-Dec: Olvera - Coripe 24.63km - Pension Coripe €60 Booking
  8. Tue 6-Dec: Coripe - El Coronil 29.52km - Hotel Don Juan €33 Booking
  9. Wed 7-Dec: El Coronil - Utrera 19.32km - lots of options
  10. Thu 8-Dec: Utrera - Sevilla 34-35km
@jungleboy, thanks for the helpful list. We've walked in that area and can add a few comments:
Casa Henrietta - Henrietta herself can give great advice on local bars with tapas.
Las Buitreras - don't miss the local fossils embedded around the bar. An enthusiastic former owner collected them.
Hotel Rural Inz-Almaraz - is in the village itself, 2 km above the station area where the camino passes. There is a nice walking trail connecting the two points. There are also camping cabins and airbnb's in the area of the station.

For anyone wanting an adventurous and beautiful extension in the area, the Ruta Fray Leopoldo will take you on a very scenic climb from Jimera de Libar to Atajate and on to Alpandeire in the Genal Valley.
 
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@jungleboy, thanks for the helpful list. We've walked in that area and can add a few comments:
Casa Henrietta - Henrietta herself can give great advice on local bars with tapas.
Las Buitreras - don't miss the local fossils embedded around the bar. An enthusiastic former owner collected them.
Hotel Rural Inz-Almaraz - is in the village itself, 2 km above the station area where the camino passes. There is a nice walking trail connecting the two points. There are also camping cabins and airbnb's in the area of the station.
Thanks for the info! I've updated my list to add in some new bookings, and I emailed Casa Henrietta so hopefully they'll have availability.
 
I also saw that about Jimena but on Google Maps there seem to be quite a few more options, including Casa Henrietta at €60.
Casa Henrietta - Henrietta herself can give great advice on local bars with tapas.
Las Buitreras - don't miss the local fossils embedded around the bar. An enthusiastic former owner collected them.
Hotel Rural Inz-Almaraz - is in the village itself, 2 km above the station area where the camino passes. There is a nice walking trail connecting the two points. There are also camping cabins and airbnb's in the area of the station.

Thank you for the information. Casa Henrietta is certainly an option in Jimena, I will reconsider my plans for Stage 2. But I think I'll keep some of the other train rides as I love seeing the Camino from a different angle as well after/before I walk it. After finishing the Norte in June, I took the train from Ribadeo back to Aviles and took great pleasure in seeing from a different angle all the places/landscapes I had previously traversed.

It turns out that, thanks in part to this thread, I am also about to set out on the same camino. To make a long story short, I had planned the Camino di Gran Canaria in early Dec but a TAP cabin crew strike and TAP's subsequent inflexibility forced me to cancel it, literally the day after you started this thread. I have a couple of weeks free until Dec 10, so I also started casting about for a camino and landed on this one too! Thanks for the inspiration! I leave Lisbon for Sevilla on Sunday, and then onwards to La Línea / Gibraltar on Monday, starting walking on Tuesday. I'm also planning the JW 10-day itinerary.

I am happy to have inspired you with this thread. So you finish the Via Serrana when I start it! As we have the same itinerary I would be very grateful if you could share your experiences on bars/restaurants (I assume not many will be open between stages) and things to watch out for such as missing trail markers or free-roaming dogs/cattle. I guess that the vultures mentioned in previous threads will not attack pilgrims ;-)

Buen camino!
 
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The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
Thank you for the information. Casa Henrietta is certainly an option in Jimena, I will reconsider my plans for Stage 2.
Update is that Casa Henrietta is full because they have some TV production crew staying there. They recommended La Casa Grande as an alternative but they are closed when I’ll be there but reopening on Friday. So either could be an option for you but I’ll have to keep looking!

I am happy to have inspired you with this thread. So you finish the Via Serrana when I start it! As we have the same itinerary I would be very grateful if you could share your experiences on bars/restaurants (I assume not many will be open between stages) and things to watch out for such as missing trail markers or free-roaming dogs/cattle. I guess that the vultures mentioned in previous threads will not attack pilgrims ;-)
Sure, no worries!
 
Thanks to all contributors - you're inspiring!

Considering Almeria to ... in February, but doubts about accommodations after Cordoba now have me really interested in your caminos. Rather than hopping from Cordoba to Seville we may just start in La Linea or possibly walk Almeria to Granada and then start in La Linea.

Please keep us posted about your caminos. Are there any GPS tracks available? How much roadside walking is required, and how busy are those roads?

I'm also wondering how cold and damp it gets at night, compared to Galicia and northern Portugal in November/December.

Looking forward to updates.
 
Hola Walkalong. My wife Mary and I will begin walking from Almeria on February 25. We are staying at Albergue Estrella del Camino the nights of February 23 and 24, operated by Nely at +34 619 860 198. We plan to stay in municipal or private albergues most of the time. We are old and I am slow. We plan to arrive in Granada March 8 and stay 3 nights. We plan to end this Camino in Cordoba March 18 and again stay 3 nights there. We don't expect to meet many peregrinos this time of year, but always enjoy doing so. Perhaps we may see you. Buen Camino
 
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Please keep us posted about your caminos. Are there any GPS tracks available? How much roadside walking is required, and how busy are those roads?

I'm also wondering how cold and damp it gets at night, compared to Galicia and northern Portugal in November/December.

Looking forward to updates.

I will use wikiloc, all stages of the Via Serrana are covered there. First stage for example is here. And of course I follow the current live thread of jungleboy here. His practical information is super helpful. I am extremely lucky to have a camino expert hiking the Via Serrana with the same 10-day itinerary only two weeks before I start.

I am not sure that another live thread is needed so shortly after jungleboy's current journal but I sure will report about my experiences later. Some of my accommodation choices are different and I will use the train option described in the JW 2018 guide. (I rented a small apartment in El Colmenar for three nights).

[Moderator note: See this thread for the LIVE journal that was posted later.]
 
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What a helpful thread! I am sorry that I do not have anything to contribute at this stage, but will certainly post if we manage to walk a southern camino in mid-January to early February, as hoped.
 

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