2 days road trip Albacete to Cazorla – Don Quijote & Las Sierras de Cazorla

Cazorla
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Two impressive regions - Castile La Mancha & Andalucia

Castile-La Mancha

The heart of Spain is a very quite region with its long straight roads, large cornfields and impossing landscape. All a bit dusty as rain is very rare. If wind is coming up there might be seen some small dusty whirlwinds. The summer is getting very hot and the winter can get very cold with a biting wind. Nevertheless La Mancha is well-known as a large wine region with villages such as Valdepeñas, Almansa or Toledo. La Mancha is also the home region of Don Quijote who is the famous hero tilting the windmills considering that they were giants. More information about Cervantes’ Don Quijote.

La Mancha
Andalucia

Is well known for its Flamenco, the white villages, Jaen’s olive oil country, the Alhambra in Granada and the Giralda in Sevilla, and much more. In summer it is getting very hot, especially in the region of Cordoba and Sevilla. It is quite normal to have more than 35C°. The yearly sun days are at 300 plus. In opposite the winter could be quite cold in some parts. For example in Cazorla usually it snows and in the Sierra Nevada which is close to Granada is a large skiing resort. In Andalucia you might go skiing and surfing on the same day. So you see the list of great sights has no end. I am a real big fan of this region and there are still a lot places on my bucket list such as Ronda, Lorca, Cadiz and more.

Albacete to Cazorla - a 2-day trip with TheRollingBeast

Our 2 day trip starts in Albacete which is the main city of the eponymous province Albacete which belongs to the region of Castile-La Mancha.

Starting in Albacete on the N-322 with a 30 km dead straight road through corn fields before arriving in Balzote, the entry point to the valley of the Rio del Jardin or known as the Greenway of Don Quijote.

 

Cycling/Hiking

on the footsteps of Don Quijote on the dusty roads in the valley of the Rio del Jardin (see orange hiking sign “Footsteps of Don Quijote” on the above map)

It is a great possibility to spend time in nature. Entry point is right after Balzote, you are almost immediately arriving to the green valley. The pathway is following the river Rio del Jardin. Trembling poplars line the path and provide shade. Deers, rabbits, foxes and other wild animals are seen very often. Depending on time and condition there is no need to start in Balzote. There are plenty of possibilities to hop on the trail in the valley. Be aware that the complete trail is around 25 km. There are no restaurants or shops. So don’t forget to take enough water and a snack with you.

As there are not a lot of people following this pathway, it is really great to spend some time on your own or with a beloved person. I always have a long walk with Romeo and it feels really good after some hours behind the steering wheel of TheRollingBeast. Unfortunately this route is forbidden to drive with cars, only bikes or hiking possibilities. So, the TheRollingBeast needs to stay out.

 

On the road to La Puerta de Segura

The route follows the river Rio del Jardim with a lot of curves, so the speed is quite chilly, especially with TheRollingBeast. I am not a motorcycle rider. But I could imagine that this road would be a great one with a Harley Davidson. 😉 I promise the next time I will make a exclusive video for you.

Leaving the valley behind still keep driving on the N-322. 10 km after the village Villapalacios you are leaving the region Castile-La Mancha and entering Andalucia.

Most of the spanish national roads are in a very good condition and good to ride. Nevertheless I prefer the dusty roads, there are several possibilities in this section to go offroad and follow some dusty roads. But be aware that most of these pathways are private.

Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas, an UNESCO biosphere reserve

Leaving the N-322 at the exit to the little village “La Puerta de Segura” you will arrive soon on the edge of the UNESCO biosphere reserve of “Las Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas”. After the village “La Puerta de Segura” the road starts almost immediately to go up into the hills with a lot of curves. Follow the A-317 until the crossroad to the A-319, which will bring you directly into the Natural Park of Cazorla. As the road is getting very small and the views are getting more and more impressive it is more relaxing to drive slowly and enjoy the ride. Furthermore there are a lot of small spaces to stop and make some great pictures. Some kilometers before the village El Tranco there is a small hike trail which go up to the hills. Just follow the signs. It is an quite easy hike with a wonderful view on the lake and the surrounding mountains (see orange hiking sign “Hike to Miradores” on the above map).

Following the small tarmac road to Cazorla you will receive the village of El Tranco with it’s new build Tourism Center and the barrage to dam the  Guadalquivir to produce energy. There are some restaurants and shops for your refreshment. Also the possibility to have a trip on the lake in a solar boat. More information you will find here: http://tranco.es/

Click on image to open gallery
Albacete to Cazorla
Following the footsteps of Don Quijote - La Mancha | Visiting the UNESCO bioshpere reserve Sierras de Cazorla - Andalucia. Including detailed map and lot of pictures.
Overnight stop in Coto Rios

Further down on the route to Cazorla, at the end of the lake, is a good place to have a last round hike on the shores of the lake. The starting point is right  after the Mirador Felix Rodriguez de la Fuente. (see orange hiking sign “Hike to the lakeside” on the above map) For an overnight stay the village Coto Rios is a good choice. There are as well several camping sites close to the Guadalquivir.

Back on the road, the small tarmac road leads you over a mountain pass to the white village Cazorla with its impressive view on the olive oil country of Jaen.

The last curves over the mountain pass to Burunchel, La Iruela and Cazorla are imposing. The small tarmac road leads you directly to Jaens’ olive oil country. It’s a picturesque scene from above to see all the olive trees standing in line on the small hills.

Possible side trip before driving over the last mountain pass to Cazorla:

Sources of the Guadalquivir, the river which flows through Sevilla, on which Columbus started his cruise to conquest South America. 🙂 Watch out for signs “Nacimiento del rio Guadalquivir”.

Arriving in Cazorla

Don’t drive through the centre of the village. The first time I didn’t think anything and I realized only as suddenly the streets were getting very narrow and the balcony were touching almost the roof of TheRollingBeast. As it is a typical spanish town I should have known before but somehow I didn’t realize how bad it could get. Only with the help of a train driver (these little tourist trains through you might have seen before), I was able to leave the city without damages. So, be aware to not drive through the center.

I always choose the Camping Cortijo San Isicio to stay. It’s a very nice and small camping. Be aware that a reservation is needed in July/August as there is high season.

Cazorla is a very imposant town with an astonishing view over the oil country. The reconstructed Moorish castle tower is called “La Yedra”. There are more ruins up the hill. The small streets in the centre with the brilliant white houses are fabulous. More infos about Cazorla here…

Cazorla by night

Olive Oil from the Sierra Cazorla

Don’t miss to buy olive oil directly from the manufactur in Cazorla. It has an outstanding quality. More info here…

Olive Oil Cazorla
Important notes

Filling stations in the Natural Park are rare. So, fill up the tank before entering the park. The first one is right after Burunchel, short before Cazorla.

No open fire and no cigarettes! Be careful with forest fires. Take all your waste with you, don’t leave it in the nature.

Wild camping is forbidden in all Spanish natural parks! Fines could be around EUR 4’000.

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