Self catering and walking holidays
Self catering and walking holidays
Cortijo Opazo
Cortijo Opazo 

When to visit the Alpujarras?

This is one of the questions we are asked most frequently, and is the subject on which we are most reluctant to commit ourselves. You will read on many websites that we enjoy more than 320 days of sunshine per year here in Andalucia.  This is probably true, and certainly the further east you go the drier it is, but it's not much comfort to the visitor who arrives on one of the 45 non-sunny days. It is said that September and October are good for walking, but personally we prefer November with its Autumn colours and startlingly blue skies.  But it is a fair question, so we will attempt to give guidance.

 

The weather in the Mediterranean is more settled than in northern Europe and therefore more easy to predict and the seasons are certainly much more defined.  In August it will be sunny and hot, in November there will be one or two days of rain, in winter the weather may be changeable and can be very cold, wherever you are, mountains or coast.  Bearing in mind that it can rain from September to June, and we've even had a few spots fall in July and August, here are some very general comments about weather possibilities, along with aspects you might enjoy.

Sparkling blue skies of January

January - Weather can be very settled, with clear blue skies, day after day.  Often warm enough for just a shirt during the day, but cold at night, sometimes below freezing - make sure your accommodation has central heating and a fire to keep you warm.  The olive harvest will be in full swing which means there is activity in the countryside.  It doesn't get dark until about 18.30.  The odd day of rain or snow is possible but not usual.

 

Average maximum daytime temperature up to 12 degrees.

Almond blossom - a spectacular sight

February - You can enjoy lovely days when you can feel the sun warming your body.  The almond blossom  is out, all over the place, a truly spectacular sight and worth coming to see, whatever the weather.  It may rain, or even snow, especially towards the end of the month, so come prepared for all weathers - T-shirts, shorts, jumpers and waterproofs.  If it does snow, it seldom stays for long and everywhere will look magical.

 

Average maximum daytime temperature up to 14 degrees centigrade.

Sunshine and snow capped mountains

March - Getting warmer now, but might be more unsettled.  Signs of Spring starting to show, still plenty of snow in the high mountains.  People spending more time working on the land and getting it ready for planting.  You would be very unlucky if you did not enjoy some sunshine during this time, but not too hot for walking.

 

Average maximim daily temperatures up to 17 degrees centigrade.

Spring flowers galore

April - Some days can feel hot but generally it is an excellent time for walking.  More blossom and Spring flowers are emerging.  Unless you meet some heavy rain, which can happen, the weather should be delightful.  If Easter falls when you are here then the parades in the cities are something special to see.

 

Average maximum daytime temperature up to 18 degrees centigrade.

The time of fresh green mountain pastures

May - Considered to be one of the best times to visit, especially for walking.  The wild flowers are in full bloom and the sun will be warm, at times hot.  Snow will make walking in the high mountains a little difficult, but generally the snow line is retreating and the streams are full to brusting.

 

Avergae maximum daily temperature up to 23 degrees centigrade.

Chance of a dip in the Mediterranean sea?

June - This month is the most beautiful in terms of the countryside being green, the flowers being out and the trees in full leaf.  The weather is likely to be hot, but not too uncomfortable.  Last time to get any major jobs done before the summer arrives so there can be a busy feel to the area with people working on the land.  A trip to the coast and a dip in the sea is definitely an option.

 

Average maximum daily temperature up to 27 degrees centigrade.

Streams and waterfalls for cooling off.

July - Now it's getting hot, but not altogether too unpleasant.  It is usually a very quiet time here, many of the walkers may have gone, but the summer visitors returning to see their families have not arrived in the villages yet.  Good time to just sit and relax, read a book in the shade and discover what all the fuss is about over the Spanish siesta.  If you want to walk then it is perfectly possible, but we would advise getting up early or going to the high mountain pastures where it will be 10 degrees cooler.

 

Average maximum daily temperature up to 29 degrees centigrade.

The balmy nights of high Summer

August - If you like it hot then this is the time for you, gauranteed heat during the day and those lovely balmy Summer evenings outside watching the stars and the meteorites whizzing by overhead.  An afternoon siesta is essential, but we enjoy getting up with the dawn at this time of year and working outside in the cool of the early morning.  Walking at this hour of the day, or at high altitide, is a realistic possibility.  Many Spanish people come to make an ascent on the summit of Mulhacen in August.  Night times are kept cool by the air from the high mountains descending into the valleys, a natural airconditioning that keeps us all in a good humour.  And it is fiesta season in the villages so there will always be some life going on somewhere - and fireworks!

 

Average maximum daily temperature up to 31 degrees centigrade.

Almond harvesting

September - Things are starting to cool down a little, but it can still be hot, especially in the first half of the month.  There might be a seasonal electric storn with an odd heavy downpour, but you are unlikely to experience sustained rain.  Everyone is busy gathering in the harvest and hanging peppers out to dry.  An altogether less intensive month weatherwise, which can make it very relaxing.  Walking season starts again.

 

Average maximum daily temperature up to 28 degrees centigrade.

Autumn slowly arrives

October - Autumn starts to make itself felt, especially towards the end of the month, but October is usually still a warm month, pleasant enough to sit outside of an evening - but better make sure the woodpile is stocked just in case!  Harvesting of pumkins and quince keeps the locals busy.  There will most likely be rain at some time during this month, but generally it is an excellent time to come and the walking is great.  Popular village fiestas in the first two weeks.

 

Average maximum daily temperature up to 22 degrees centigrade.

November - month of colour

November - It might be wet, it might be cold, or it might be sunny and invigorating.  It might be all of these things in one week! This time of year is popular in the Alpujarras, with visitors coming to see the changing colours of Autumn and to roast chestnuts.  One of my favourite times of the year, with colour eveywhere, in leaves of the trees, the berries on the wild roses and in the clear blue skies.  The high mountains are usually capped with the first snows of Winter.  Superb for walking - unless it is raining!

 

Average maximum daily temperature up to 16 degress centigrade.

Snow sometimes adds a magical beauty.

December - There will be some rainy days, there will be some windy days, and there will be some sunny days; there might even be snowy days, but it can also feel warm when the sun shines.  The high mountains will have snow and will look dazzling against the blue skies.  The area has that crisp feel of an Alpine ski resort, cafes open, people sipping coffee or hot chocolate in the sun, wrapped up in warm coats and wearing sun glasses.  This month, above all others, is when the Spanish love to come to the mountains, so it must have smoething to recommend it.

 

Average maximum daily temperature up to 13 degrees centigrade.

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© Robert King