I decided to walk the Camino Mozárabe from Almería largely in response to a camino forum member requesting company on the route. I was an early responder and thought for many months that there would just be the two of us. Whereas slowly but surely other forum members showed interest in joining us until we became eleven peregrinos from around the world. We were assured by the very helpful amigos at Almería (Asociación Jacobea de Almería-Granada Camino Mozárabe, www.almeriajacobea.es) that there would be sufficient beds for us at all stages as far as Granada, but I have to admit to being a little concerned about such a big group setting off at the same time.
As it happened two people set off a day earlier and the remaining nine of us met with the Almería amigos the evening before the morning after. And to ease the situation further, four of our number had walked a half stage the day before and were taxiing back to continue from their stopping point.
So that left five of us setting off from Almería on 14 April 2018. We marked the occasion with the first of many group selfies and strolled out of town. Included in our initial group were peregrinas from New Zealand, Canada and Denmark, plus my best camino pal Marilyn from South Africa and of course me from the UK. We were all experienced serial caminoists, with at least five caminos under each of our respective belts. I have to say it was the best camino company, such camaraderie, so much fun and no judgement.
I was expecting not to see other pilgrims along the way. From what I had read about the route it was still fairly undiscovered and little walked. So I was very surprised to discover within a few days that we were walking in a ‘bubble’ of thirteen-fifteen pilgrims. On day two there were an Italian couple, a German couple, an American mother and daughter and a Spanish guy all staying at the albergue, although other than the Americans we didn’t see much of them along the way. There was often a choice of accommodation at the stage ends and although my group usually opted for the albergue, there wasn’t any problem finding sufficient beds until after Granada. For the most part the accommodation was good to excellent (although I have to admit that my standards are not too high!).
From Almería to Granada the hospitaleros work with each other and the association to serve the pilgrims. It is important that you phone a day in advance to let them know of your arrival. The hospitaleros have lives that involve being away from the village and cannot just happen to be there if they do not know anyone will be turning up. And just as important is to inform them if you have reserved and then change your mind and walk on, as much effort is involved in preparing for pilgrims and in winter heating the accommodation.
The scenery was quite barren for the first few days and there was a lot of walking along river beds which was quite tough. By day five/six it began to get greener and more varied. There were some mighty inclines and descents and some stages without facilities when it was necessary to carry extra food and water. And it is also wise to remember that there probably wont be any shops open, even in big cities, on a Sunday. I faced an extra challenge this year as I was eating a plant only diet – not a problem when I could shop well and cook for myself, but sometimes a little difficult to eat as healthily as I would have liked. I shall write another piece about walking the camino on a plant-based diet.
We walked nine days from Almería to Granada, six stages from Granada to Córdoba, and seven stages from Córdoba to Magacela where Marilyn and I took a different route (when I walked previously from Málaga I took nine days from Córdoba to Mérida (which included some very long stages that could have been broken down).
I planned this camino to discover some lesser-walked trails which included the Mozárabe, the variant through Trujillo, the Camino Torres and the Portuguese Coastal/Espiritual. I shall write separately about each of the four sections. This is meant as an overview only, giving brief details of each stage. If you want a more detailed description with lots of fabulous photos, please refer to my blog or click the link for each day.
From my research I prepared two documents that I referred to constantly. One with stage distances and accommodation details. The other with distances between towns and villages and the facilities available in each. I find this is sufficient to guide me through my camino without need to carry a guide book. It should be noted however that just because the list states there is a bar or a shop, it will not necessarily be open. Spanish bars normally close one day a week, if there is more than one bar they will alternate days, but if there is only one, then that refreshing drink you have been dreaming about for a number of kilometres may not become a reality. You are welcome to use these documents as a guide, but please do your own research – much may have changed since I prepared them and I take no responsibility for any misinformation.
You can click on the ‘stage’ heading for each day to see a full description and lots of photos on the reports that I posted as I walked. You can also click on the stage names, ie “Almería to Santa Fe de Mondujar” to see the wikiloc tracks for each stage.
Almeria to Santa Fe de Mondujar 24 km Riverbed / road, nice albergue with good kitchen – casa rural (town house) that potentially sleeps 6, 15 euros per person or 40 euros for the house. Double bed, two singles and double sofa bed. Info for albergue…fabulous cooking facilities, at time of writing everything brand new and shiny. Microwave and ceramic hob, big fridge, washing machine, lovely shower. Ring in advance to reserve 678 288 143, Casa Rural Limon y Naranja
Santa Fe de Mondujar to Alboloduy 16 km, first half steep elevation up and down on rough tracks with a couple of villages, then agricultural road. Good albergue, 20 beds arranged over several apartments, which are also available to tourists. Our apartment which has three bunks and a very decent working kitchen and bathroom costs 50 euros, between the five of us. +34 633 357 533. Very important to ring ahead to arrange your stay.
Alboloduy to Abla 30 km. Start on riverbed – hard underfoot, after 3.5 km on narrow tracks with steep elevation and back down to riverbed. At least two thirds of the stage is on the riverbed which is hard-going. Town at half-way point and a couple of villages after that. Over 800 metres elevation gain on this stage. Abergue at very top of town opened three years ago and has two rooms, each with three bunk beds, but only one bathroom for twelve people. There is a good kitchen and washing machine, but no wifi. Donativo, ring ahead to reserve 660 229 995 / 626 377 113
Abla to Hueneja 21.5 km. First section easy walking with village for refreshment at 8 km. Should have been a bar at around 15 km but I didn’t find it. Steady climb throughout the stage and more rough riverbed with no shade. Albergue in apartment block, 9 places, tiny kitchen and bathroom, donativo. Collect keys from old people’s home next to church 676 670 052.
Heuneja to Alquife 20 km. Fabulous countryside track walking, no riverbed. Three villages with bars spaced out along the way. We stayed at private Albergue Lacho. There are several rooms with beds for 12 in a house with a very large lounge/kitchen and bathroom. Wifi, washing and breakfast are included for 13 euros. Telephone Manuel 603 170 445. There is another private albergue in the town which might be worth a try La Balsa tel 622 798 351 10 euros.
Alquife to Guadix 24 km. First day of net elevation loss, a valley with flowing rivers, a pine wood and reservoir (we took a short cut across the top of the reservoir rather than walking all the way around as directed by the arrows). Mostly agricultural tracks, a bit of road walking and 5 km of not uncomfortable riverbed then back on road into Guadix famous for its cave houses. We are staying at ‘La Escultora’ an ancient property in the city centre that has been beautifully restored with authentic furnishings, internal patio, beautiful lounging areas and large kitchen, washing machine – 15 euros 604 120 309 / 643 609 800, 13 euros including breakfast.
Guadix to La Peza 23 km (or if you get lost as I did 27 km – hence no link to trail – I don’t want others to follow my mistake!). Once out of Guadix the walking is wonderful, soft tracks through pine woods past deserted cave houses until first town at 9.5 km, then on concrete track or asphalt for around 6 km through the next three villages until getting back onto riverbed, first very sandy, turning to extremely rough. I missed the turn off the riverbed that climbed to the road and wandered in the hills until I found my way back to the route with help from maps.me. There is a final walk along a switchback asphalt road into La Peza. We stayed at the municipal albergue, 8 places, donativo, kitchen, 958 674 151 / 608 120 123. There are also casa rurales in the town. You need to buy supplies for the next day’s 30 km stage as there are no opportunities for refreshment.
La Peza to Quentar 28 km. Initial steep climb to ridge with stunning views to each side. Wide driveable track. After about 8 km the arrows point to a riverbed, deep sand – very hard going for 3 km. There is a road alongside which would have been much easier to walk. Then back on wide track winding into the deep folds of the mountains and continuing to rise and fall (mostly rise!). At 22 km we pass through a towering disused quarry and then the track descends steeply all the way to our stage end. There is an albergue in Quentar 639 479 631 / 958 485 164 12.50 euros, but we book a townhouse (Casa Rio Quentar, booked via booking.com) with charming host who is keen to see all our needs are met. There is an open fire, an excellent kitchen, with washing machine. For five the cost is 17 euros each. Two rooms with twin beds one double.
Quentar to Granada 18.5 km. Lovely track to start the day, alongside a river, passing allotments and blossoming orchards. After first village at 3 km there is a steep incline to a ridge running between two valleys. Stunning scenery. At around 4.7 km the descent begins and it is downhill all the way. Unless you blindly follow the arrows (as we did) at Sacromonte and take an unnecessary loop up to the Abadía – only to descend to the same spot on the road below. A short walk into Granada gave us the time to relax and soak up the ambience of this amazing city. We stayed in Hostal Al Andaluz in a six bed dorm (three sturdy bunks) although there are only five of us we paid for the sixth bed so that we didn’t have to share with a stranger. Total cost 66 euros including sheets, but no blankets, and with a very nice modern bathroom. Booked via Hostelworld.
Granada to Moclin 36.5 km. Difficult to follow signs out of Granada. Used maps.me route to assist us. 8km to city limits then some track before returning to asphalt alongside agricultural land growing asparagus. Large town at 12.5 km then a long trek through industrial area, then road between a railway line and some scruffy fields. Easy walking but not enjoyable. Next town at 22 km after which we enter countryside but still on asphalt. Finally at 27 km we are walking on track through olive groves. Last village at 32.5 km then ridiculously steep climb up to the stage end at Moclin. Various options for accommodation but I booked a magnificent casa rural, a sixteenth century stone property sympathetically renovated with fabulous kitchen and bathroom, could sleep 8 (four singles, two doubles), 70 euros between six of us. What a treat. Pósito de Moclin, reserved through booking.com, but you could try phoning direct 655 049 013 if you have good enough Spanish
Moclin to Alcalá la Real 25 km. Very steep initial descent, then up and down the rest of the stage. Tracks through olive groves and past rolling green fields, some road walking, one section fast busy road but only for 1.5 km. Town at 13.5 km, but bar didn’t open until mid-day, although there is a small well-stocked supermarket for supplies. The second half of the stage was on tracks through asparagus fields, past various farmland and over a couple of streams. Alcalá la Real is a sizeable town, no albergue but various options for accommodation. We stayed at Mirador Tierra de Frontera reserved via booking.com in a triple room for 55 euros, good kitchen, use of washing machine lounge/diner, two bathrooms and lovely terrace directly opposite the castle. We were the only ones staying. The owners have a micro brewery and their beers are for sale at the premises.
Alcalá la Real to Alcuadete 25 km. Countryside immediately on leaving town through olive groves and asparagus fields. Town at 12.5 km for refreshments. Olive groves in every direction on second half of this stage. There were more pilgrims than accommodation when we arrived in Alcuadete. Fortunately hospitalero Peter let us stay at his albergue (situated in his home) which was undergoing renovation. Very kind host, we bought him supper as a thank you. Donativo, four beds, but possibly more in the future, situated directly on the camino towards the exit from town. Contact via whatsapp only on 644 842 540. No faciliies on next stage so buy supplies.
Alcuadete to Baena 26 km. First 3.5 km on very quiet road through olive groves, then track for 3 km, very busy road for a short while, then various tracks again. We stopped for lunch at 12.5 km overlooking large reservoir. The approach into Baena isn’t very nice, very dusty track with lots of vehicles throwing up clouds of dust. Baena is a big town with many restaurants and facilities. Stayed in ‘Ruta del Califato Baena’ tel 957 670 075, 10 euros. There is a large room with five bunks sleeping ten, one bathroom and no other facilities whatsoever. Only two chairs from which to climb to the five top bunks that have no ladders, no kitchen, no lounging area, no outside space, and no love for what they are doing (obviously my personal opinion, others might have liked this place more). I took a top bunk and put the mattress on the floor.
Baena to Castro del Rio 21 km. First 1.5 km on busy road with no shoulder, then track through olive groves. Back on quiet country road at 7km all the way to stage end. Castro del Rio has an albergue and a choice of private accommodation. I stayed in the albergue, which is rather basic, two rooms with twelve places over six bunks, no kitchen facilities whatsoever although there is a nice room where you can eat any food that you have found elsewhere. The bathroom leaves much to be desired! It is necessary to register with the Policia local situated in the Ayuntamiento. I have a note that the cost is 5 euros, but wasn’t asked for any money and there is no donation box at the albergue.
Castro del Rio to Santa Cruz 25 km. We were informed that there was no accommodation available in Santa Cruz in either of the two hostals (Casa José 957 378 072 – 20 euros/ La Bartola 958 450 136 – 25 euros) Surprisingly there are more pilgrims than beds. Added to this two of my camigas were suffering badly with a virus and needed to take a couple of days off. I had already walked this stage on the Mozarabe route from Málaga a few years earlier so wasn’t too bothered about missing it and took a day off with my pals. Next day I took the bus to Santa Cruz and jumped off and walked from there into Cordoba, whilst the others stayed on the bus. There are no facilities on tomorrow’s stage so shop for supplies.
Santa Cruz to Córdoba 26.5 km. Quiet road out of village, still walking through olive groves. First track at 5.75 km. Hard gravel track winds through undulating crop fields. At 23 km asphalt road into Cordoba. The city is full due to public holiday and patio festival and there is almost no accommodation available. I find bed at Hostal ‘Backpacker Al-Katre’ reserved via booking.com 20.50 euros for a bunk. Again, no facilities on tomorrow’s stage
Córdoba to Cerro Muriano 19 km. A pleasant walk out of the city following discrete ceramic wall plaques. Countryside starts at 4 km, a beautiful walk with much elevation. We reach the oddly deserted suburb of Torreblanca at 7.5 km, but we don’t pass any shops or bars. Then we are in stunning woodland with a riot of wild flowers. There seem to be two options for accommodation in Cerro Muriano – Bar X 957 350 188 / 656 836 262 – 15 euros, which was full, and Santa Maria del Trabajo where we stayed for 22.75 euros which seemed very expensive for a room shared by 4 with two singles and one bunk. There is a variety of accommodation but I think we had the only available room. It is run by a charitable organisation that raises money for the people down on their luck, rather an odd place. There are interesting ruins of a copper mine just outside the town if you have the energy for more walking.
Cerro Muriano to Villaharta 21.5 km. 4 km on road past huge army base, then woodland tracks often within hearing of the busy road, but very pleasant with lots of wild flowers. Village of El Vacar at 12 km with several bars. At stage end we stay in Hostal Mirasierra which has several rooms with twin beds, a kitchen with only a microwave and one shared bathroom, large terrace, 15 euros. Bar/restaurant downstairs. Tomorrows stage is 38 km with no facilities so take supplies. The bar owner will drive pilgrims to the half way point if 38 km is a problem.
Villaharta to Alcaracejos 38 km. 2.5 km uphill on quiet road then tracks through beautiful countryside with views to hillsides covered in holm oaks. River crossing at 8.7 km, upper calf depth, maybe 20 metres wide. Lovely walking on tracks until 32 km then 5 km on gravel and asphalt. There are various options for accommodation in Alcaracejos including an albergue 678 917 040 / 671 542 430, 9 euros. I can’t remember why we didn’t stay in the albergue, opting instead for Hostal Las Tres Jotas, huge room with six single beds, wonderful hot shower, but no cooking facilities 15 euros.
Alcaracejos to Hinojosa del Duque 23 km. Leave town on a compacted dirt track through agricultural land with herds of cows, sheep and goats, huge crop fields dotted with holm oaks. There are two villages at 2 km and 10 km. The approach to Hinojosa del Duque is not very pleasant through an industrial wasteland but the town is pleasant. Call in at Policia Local, next to Ayuntamiento to register and for key to the albergue just around the corner, four bunks, sleeping eight, a decent bathroom, no kitchen but a room with a microwave and a large table, wifi, no charge! Once again, no facilities on next stage – buy supplies!
Hinojosa del Duque to Monterrubio de la Serena 32 km. Directly onto comfortable track through pastureland. At 19 km we came to asphalt road. Last time I walked this stage I crossed the road and continued on track and had to wade a river, again only calf depth. But last night we had been warned that the river was swollen and not possible to wade, and so turned left onto the road and trudged the asphalt for the following 13+ km – no shoulder but fairly quiet. Absolutely no shade. We met other pilgrims who had not heard the warning (from an association volunteer) and had crossed the river without any problem. New albergue in Monterrubio de la Serena 684 457 681. Sleeps 14, sheets, duvets & towels provided, excellent kitchen and bathroom, washing machine. Calle Nueva 34, 8 euros. No facilities on tomorrow’s stage.
Monterrubio de la Serena to Castuera. Not much elevation. 14 km on quiet country asphalt road – pleasant walking, 3.5 km on track and final stretch back on the road into Castuera. Call into policia local 924 772 350, around the corner behind the ayuntamiento to register and collect key for the excellent albergue. Two large rooms each with two sets of bunks, a substantial kitchen and dining area, and two state of the art bathrooms, terrace areas – pilgrim heaven, 8 euros including sheets and quilt. Thank you Castuera.
Castuera to Magacela 35 km (there are a couple of albergues between these towns at 8 km and 20 km). Comfortable track all the way, wide open pastureland, no shade. Archaeological site at 27 km that can be visited on weekdays. Magacela sits atop a hill and can been seen from a great distance. We stayed at Casa Rural el Cercón de Candelo, telephone Isabel 651 670 413 situated before reaching the hill, well signed from the camino. Highly recommended, beautiful peaceful courtyard, two bedrooms with twin beds, and bathroom. Cost 15 euros including breakfast. Dinner can be provided for 10 euros. The spike at the end of the elevation profile above shows where we unnecessarily climbed the hill and back down again to find the albergue.
This is where the Camino Mozárabe as it is normally walked finished for Marilyn and me. The next stage was on the variant via Trujillo. I will write separate posts about this stage, the Torres and the Portuguese Coastal/Espiritual.