Designated a natural park in 1999, this large and rugged mountainous region of 40,663ha stretches across the provincial border of Granada and Malaga. Its western part in Malaga province is known as the Axarquía and is famous for its attractive villages dating from Moorish times. It is also superb hiking country and its numerous steep mountainsides make it ideal for climbers.

La Axarquia area is still breathtakingly beautiful and has not been spoilt by the interest and influx of foreigners. The main attractions are the area's dramatic hill and mountain scenery, its unspoilt, white washed villages and the strong sweet wine that is made from sun dried grapes.

La Axarquia has much to offer in the way of rural tourism. The striking landscapes, vast expanses of unspoilt mountains, forests and rivers make for a wonderful exploratory visit. For families, this can be an ideal getaway, and a more active alternative to a beach holiday.

As a rural area the hotels in the villages are limited. Most of the hotels can be found in Nerja and on the coast. there is also a good selection of hotels in Velez-Malaga the main town.

It's hard to believe that the wild beauty of the La Axarquía is just half an hour from the Caleta de Vélez (or Málaga's Costa Oriental) - an uninspired coastal strip of down-trodden buildings and second-rate hotels - especially when compared to the better-known pueblos blancos to the west, with their glitzy Costa del Sol gateway of Marbella.

Driving around La Viñuela area offers the delights of other nearby villages, such as Canillas de Aceituno, which is higher up and offers breathtaking views of the lake.

Sedella is a town on the beautiful Ruta Mudejar in the Axarquia comarca. It's positioned 700m above sea level and was possibly once fortified with a large area of farmland at the foot of the town known as Sedelia or Xedelia.

Totalán is part of the Ruta de la Pasa (Raisin route). This small but beautiful town is surrounded by vineyards, almond groves and paseros (raisin drying areas). The town has an Arabic heritage, with its narrow, steep, winding streets and whitewashed houses.

The town of El Borge is situated at the foot of the Cerro de Cutar mountain, on the border of the Axarquia and Montes de Malaga comarcas, and is known as the "raisin capital" because the town is one of the largest producers of Muscatel raisins.