Marbella is one of the most popular destinations in our country, both nationally and internationally, for a weekend getaway or for spending a few vacation days. Each year the number of tourists arriving from every corner of the world increases, who arrive at the city to enjoy its beaches, luxury stores, Michelin-rated restaurants and its wide range of entertainment activities. But besides the city proper, visitors can also enjoy other nature-related activities in Marbella. We are referring to places as impressive as the Sierra de las Nieves Natural Park. A paradise of contrasts located at the heart of the Malaga province with hilltops reaching over 2,000 meters (6,500 feet) high and possessing the most complex labyrinth of caves and galleries in all of Andalucía. It’s the ideal place for speleology lovers.
White hills and abrupt limestone formations intertwined with gradual slopes in red shades. But even though the park is a true spectacle no matter which of its corners the visitor enjoys, it’s a fact that fans of mountain climbing can’t miss out on visiting the Torrecilla Peak (1,919 meters / 6,300 feet high).
Another one of the greatest attractions in Sierra de las Nieves is the pinsapo (Spanish fir) forests. This Mediterranean fir is located in the cold and humid shaded hillsides. A botanic relic that has its origins in the ice age. A bastion of that period which can only be found at this park, at Sierra de Grazalema and in Los Reales of Sierra Bermeja, the largest being the one located in Sierra de las Nieves. While descending, we start seeing holm oak and cork oak forests, or spots of carobs and chestnuts. A landscape that incites the traveller to learn more about it by navigating some of the mountain biking trails such as the Monda-Istán trail.
But besides all this, the Sierra de las Nieves Nature Park is home to a great variety of species ranging from mammals such as the Iberian wild goat, easy to spot on higher areas, and the western roe deer, to birds of prey such as the golden eagle, Bonelli’s eagle or the European eagle-owl.
Things to do at Sierra de las Nieves
The steep terrain of Sierra de las Nieves offers spectacular vistas all the way to the sea, and a broad network of well signposted trails where all kinds of active tourism activities can be performed. Hiking, Bike Tourism and mountain climbing are just some of the options the traveller arriving to spend some outdoors vacations in Marbella can choose from. But also, features filled with abysses, cliffs and ponds offer an ideal setting for practicing speleology or rappel. And taking advantage of some old roads, footpaths and mountain passes -in many cases ancient brigand paths- some companies offer 4×4 tours through the area, horseback rides and water sports at Embalse De La Concepción (De La Concepción Reservoir).
Nonetheless, not everything involves sports. Those wishing to get to know the charming attractions of the area can visit several towns that used to be home to different cultures. Even though Muslims were the ones who left the largest footprint on the historical legacy. The castles and walls located at Monda, El Burgo, Istán or Tolox are a good example. But the Arab influence is also present in their cuisine, with dishes as tasty as flour and honey porridge, almond cheese or the sopa de los siete ramales (seven-stick soup).