The Colada de la Costa trail links the southernmost town in Europe with the Huerta Grande, and on your trek, you’ll discover the most spectacular views of the Strait of Gibraltar.
The Strait of Gibraltar’s sunny winter mornings are the perfect time to explore the Colada de la Costa trail, which runs along the very edge of the coastline connecting Tarifa, the Southernmost town in Europe, with Huerta Grande in the municipality of Algeciras.
The route starts where the Mediterranean begins and next to the Parque Natural del Estrecho y Reserva de la Biosfera (Natural Park of the Strait and Biosphere Reserve).
On a clear day it boasts stunning views of the African coast, which lies at a 15km distance. However, it is the strong easterly or Levanter winds that have carved out this rugged landscape.
The trail begins at Tarifa, next to the tower on the southeast corner walls of the castle of Guzmán el Bueno, and runs parallel to the coast, as you leave behind the ancient city; or you can start from the other end.
After crossing the small bridges which span the countryside streams, you will be met by a path surrounded by grassland and low scrub which will take you to the Guadalmesí (from Arabic, meaning “stream of women”) river. The area is usually battered by strong winds.
Before that and just further on from Mount Camorro which houses the high-tech rescue watch-tower over one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world we can enjoy one of the most spectacular sights in the district: the so-called “flysches,” – water eroded abrasions in the rocks resembling blades which can be seen from different vantage points on the way during low tide.
Level with the Barranco Hondo and after walking along a cattle track, we can take some of the best photographs of these semi-submerged rocky surfaces which have considerable environmental value. These are, according to geologists, “rocks of sedimentary origin composed of layers of hard rocks, such as limestone, slate and sandstone, interspersed with other softer ones, marls and clays”, and with “uneven resistance to erosion”.
According to experts, these rock formations can only be found in the Strait and elsewhere in Iberian Peninsula, in Zumaia by the Cantabrian Sea and along the coast of Guipúzcoa.
A Viewing Platform Unlike Any Other for Watching Migratory birds
The trail spans 16km and would take about 5 hours to complete; it cuts through the Barranco de Oliveros and reaches the Las Viñas stream, after passing farmhouses and several valleys. Then continue walking from here and you will reach the mouth of the Guadalmesí river and the old watchtower, which was once used to defend the only fresh water supply area from which ships could replenish.
Within this magical natural enclave, where you can even observe otters emerging from river spouts, there is one of the best observatories from which to watch the migration of birds at different times of the year as they make their way been Europe and Africa in their ancestral journey.
From here, along the route surrounded by mastic, palmetto and herguenes trees, the path winds beside the coast, with bunkers and other old defensive structures, typically found along such strategic locations, as well as an old Civil Guard barracks
At the height of Arenillas, the road forks and you can decide whether to join the Cerro del Tambor path, through a small trail, or push forward through the La Cuesta or Marchenilla routes towards La Cañada de Botijo, leaving the coastline behind you and beginning a climb to the Huerta Grande tourist centre which is the gateway to another Natural Park: Los Alcornocales.
On this picturesque hike, you will discover the remains of old flour mills and even an arsenal dating back to the 18th century…