Craggy mountain landscapes
Andalucía is one of the most mountainous regions in Spain, although many visitors to the Costa del Sol may not realise this fact.
One of the best areas to appreciate the craggy mountain landscape of Andalucia is the natural park of the Sierra de Grazalema. This picturesque part of Cadiz province is excellent walking country, particularly around the town of Grazalema itself - and the area is also ideal for a range of other outdoor activities, including bird-watching, mountain-biking, rock-climbing, caving and paragliding. Trout fishing is also popular in the mountainous regions of Andalucía.
The Grazalema park extends into the northwest of Málaga province, where one of the most famous prehistoric caves is located - Cueva de Pileta. This is one of the few places in Spain where the rare Spanish fir (pinsapo) grows - this indigenous tree is said to date back more than two million years.
Other vegetation you are likely to find here includes holm oak, cork oak, gall oak, wild olive and riverside forest. Among the wildlife are the ibex, chamois, roe deer, mongoose, otter and genet. Birds of prey include Bonelli's eagle, the magnificent golden eagle, the Egyptian vulture and one of Europe's largest colonies of common vultures.
Another interesting mountainous area is El Torcal nature reserve near Antequera, with its other-worldly rock formations, used as a filming location for the TV series The Emerald City, while nearby El Chorro can be seen from an unusual angle - the Caminito del Rey, a recently restored clifftop path.
The best time to visit is during the spring, early summer or autumn, as mid-summer gets very hot, while winter can see snowfalls and dangerous, icy roads.