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If you’re holidaying in or around Estepona you can’t miss the Sierra Bermeja mountain as it dominates the landscape behind the town. At just under 1,500 metres high it’s only 10km from the sea so makes an ideal day trip from the beach.
I’ve been wanting to reach the summit for a while now (I see the mountain every day as I’m heading home from work so the temptation is always there) but the summer heat put anything too strenuous off limits!
The last time we’d tried to climb it we came off the motorway too early but ended up having a lovely walk in the lower part of the mountain range instead which you can read about here.
To be honest, we nearly didn’t make it again. In fact, I’d go as far as saying that the most difficult part of the trip was actually getting on to the right road in the first place but put Carretera Genalguacil into the satnav and you can’t go wrong. It took a Google search or two to put us on the right road though!
It’s a very steep and winding drive, albeit through beautiful countryside dotted with small fincas, with a few miradors along the way to stop and admire the view. Just before the 9km mark there’s the Mirador Ciclista which has a good walking track right across the road.
A few kilometres further up the road is a sign for Penas Blancas which is where the road forks – left to Genalguacil and right to Jubrique. Just on the left is the car park for Los Reales de Sierra Bermeja. Yay, we’d made it this far!
It’s possible to drive all the way to the summit (give or take a short hike) but once past the barrier the road, although sealed, is extremely narrow, very winding and has an eye-wateringly steep drop on one side. Hence the reason we decided to park the car and walk.
It’s a lovely walk with spectacular views down to Estepona and the Costa del Sol and, after about 2.5km, we reached a small parking area (probably room for no more than three or four cars) and the entrance to Paseo de los Pinsapos. This is a path through a pine forest (the pinsapos are unique to this area) which has a few different walking trails including one to the peak. Rather than go through the forest we decided to push on and, another 2km or so uphill, we reached a small, but surprisingly busy, restaurant – the Refugio de los Reales. The food looked and smelt delicious but we opted to just have an alfresco beer (with a view). A handy tip – take something warm to wear as it was pretty chilly up there.
There’s another mirador just beyond the restaurant – Mirador Salvador Guerrero – with yet more spectacular views of the coast.
In all, it took us about an hour to walk up from the car park – but it was an easy walk with lots of photo stops.
There’s a plaque to Edmond Boissier, the botanist who discovered the pinsapo fir tree, on the right just before the refuge. The road leading off from this plaque is the one to the summit – it’s pretty rocky and rough underfoot so I wouldn’t recommend trying it without sensible footwear (it’s definitely a flip flop free zone) and eventually stops at a couple of communications masts. Surely this wasn’t it!
There’s a display board (Los Picos de Reales) and by scrambling up behind the board (there’s a wooden post with an arrow on it which it’s easy to miss) we found a rocky path and, veering off to the left, suddenly there we were – at the top of Los Reales! When we set off early afternoon there wasn’t a cloud in the sky but, by the time we reached the peak, we were actually above the clouds that had started to form. The sun was getting low in the sky and the views all the way down the coast to Gibraltar, and Africa beyond, were magical.
What a way to end the weekend – definitely worth the wait!