What if I told you that I have discovered a place, where you can still find peace and quiet, where you can hear the sound of silence and where nature is unspoilt and pure? Beautiful clean water running in streams and rivers makes this lush and fertile land a dreamland for walkers. Wild camping on mountain plateaus, the feeling of being on top of the world, away from the hustle and the bustle of your daily life and a guaranteed reconnection with yourself and nature – sounds amazing right? Lucky for you, this off-the-beaten-track place is a lot easier to reach than you think – I’m speaking about La Alpujarra in Spain.

Secret places like this, where you can recharge your batteries in unspoilt nature, away from busy cities, traffic and tourism are hidden gems which not everybody would be happy to share – not me though. I call Alpujarra my home and think you should know about it. Living in a city or town, where you can never escape the hectic reality, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find true silence. In La Alpujarra though, you will find it.

la alpujarra - secret place in spain - sietske merloo - travelettes 1

This special sundrenched region at the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Spain, is an active holiday spot where outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy walks and treks. The lower Alpujarra offers gentle tracks and paths through fertile, terraced farmlands irrigated by the melting snow from the mountains above. Higher up, closer to the summits the hikes become more strenuous and the power of nature and the mountains are more prevalent.

The narrow, winding streets and small flat-roofed and box-shaped white houses remind you of mountain villages in northern Africa. There is a laid back atmosphere and while you walk through the streets that are too small for cars to pass, the noise of hoofs and bells announces the shepherd with his flock passing through. Not something you see often these days!

Exploring La Alpujarra - A Secret Place in Spain, Travelettes photo by Albert
Exploring La Alpujarra - A Secret Place in Spain, Travelettes photo by Ronnie Macdonald

How to explore La Alpujarra

If you would like to explore this region, you can either book an organised walk with a guide or you can plan your walk and accommodation yourself. The most beautiful and peaceful area to walk through is ‘La Taha’. This valley comprises seven villages: Atalbeitar, Capilerilla, Ferreirola, Fondales, Mecina, Mecinilla and Pitres. It is a picturesque place where it feels like time stood still. You can walk from one village to the next without ever stepping on tarmac.

Exploring La Alpujarra - A Secret Place in Spain, Travelettes photo by Allie Caulfield

Adventure in the Mountains

You can also opt for a more adventurous trip and tackle the many summits that can be conquered higher up in the mountains. The Sierra Nevada is a rugged and extensive mountain range, the highest in Europe after the Alps. It is a protected biosphere reserve and offers a diverse terrain: torrential rivers, sheer-sided gorges, stony slopes and glacial lakes. The cherry on the cake is standing on top of the highest mountain of mainland Spain: Mulhacén (3,482 m).

I climbed to the top of this beautiful mountain in July and enjoyed stunning views north towards Granada, and south towards the Mediterranean Sea and the North African coast. Unlike many other peaks in Europe it is an undiscovered gem. On busier days, you might share the summit with a handful of others. On a quieter day you could be the only one.

Exploring La Alpujarra - A Secret Place in Spain, Travelettes

Bird Watching and Stargazing

Besides being a wonderful area for walking, hiking and trekking the Alpujarra also offers good bird watching and the most incredible stargazing. As the area is scarcely populated and there is little light pollution. Watching stars here is truly magical!

Exploring La Alpujarra - A Secret Place in Spain 5 photo by chiqui design

Southern Spain is a popular tourist destination and its beaches are packed with sun seekers each summer. But if you travel just a bit inland, this part of Spain leaves an entirely different impression on you. It is unspoilt, the paths are less trodden and the locals are warm and welcoming.

The easiest way to get to the Alpujarra is to fly to Granada or Malaga. From either airport it is easy to get to the Alpujarra. There are possibilities to rent a car, which is very affordable, or you can make your way by public transport.

This is a guest post by Sietske Meerloo.

IMG_0063 Sietske moved to the Alpujarra in 2012. She lives with her family ‘off the grid’ in a remote stone farmhouse in the ‘Barranco de Poquiera’. The farm is partly self sufficient and inspired by permaculture principles. Sietske is a passionate horse trainer and rider and in 2015 she set up Vakanshe, offering women-only walking and trekking tours in this beautiful region in Southern Spain and other unspoilt areas in the world.