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i närheten av Tarifa, Andalucía (España)
This coastal hike largely through the Parque Natural del Estrecho (Park of the Strait) offers great views of the sea, the Strait of Gibraltar, Africa, and the most southern town of Europe. The hike starts at the bus station in Tarifa and takes you to a bus stop in El Pelayo, where you can get a bus back (about 10 times a day, see waypoint for more information). Free parking is available both near the bus station in Tarifa as in El Pelayo across the road from the bus stop. Along the coast you may be lucky to spot bird migration in season. The Parque includes arroyos (dry valleys in summer), rocky beaches, cliffs, bunkers, ruins, cattle grazing, olive groves, cork oaks, flysch abrasion platforms caused by collision of the Eurasian and African plate and erosion, and the Torre de Guadalmesi. The hike is largely on well-trodden paths along the coast. The short stretches on rocky beaches can be slippery and a bit more difficult to walk, and can be avoided. When you leave the coast and go up to El Pelayo, there is a short stretch (~150 m) on a small path half overgrown by bushes, the rest of the climb to El Pelayo is on broad gravel tracks and roads. Only in Tarifa and El Pelayo, you will find something to eat and drink.
The hike starts at the bus station and you walk directly to the magnificent beach Playa los Lances. A great sandy beach with small dunes and very popular with surfers. You walk towards the Isla de las Palomas, a small island south of Tarifa, connected to the main land by a causeway. Unfortunately, the island is off-limits without a guided tour, so you cannot actually freely visit the most southern point of Europe, but you get as close to it as possible without a guide (the gate at the entrance). From here, you walk into the center of Tarifa, a nice town with white houses, a city wall, at least two castles, and great views of the Strait of Gibraltar (Mirador del Estrecho). After your visit of the town you walk to the Calle Maria de Molina, where the hike through the Parque starts. If you just follow the track you will get to a fence of a private property which you can only pass by scrambling down steeply to the water, so do not forget to turn off at the turn-off (waypoint). You walk around the house and then continue on the Sendero Colada de la Costa which you follow all the way along the coast. The track is well-trodden and sometimes marked with green poles. Sometimes you pass a cattle lock, and you can encounter cattle en-route. After about 2.2. km from Tarifa (turn-off Calle Maria de Molina) you see the building of Spanish marine traffic control. After about 3 km I walked a bit on a rocky beach, but you can also continue on the path. After 4.9 km you get to the photogenic ruins of a house, closely follow by a waterfall (may be dry in summer). After 8.3 km, you get to a bird migration viewpoint and the Torre de Guadalmesi. This tower was used to prevent access to the only sweet water source in summer, Rio Guadalmesi, at the foot of the tower. After 9.1 km, I left the main path to scramble along the rocky beach a bit. You could also avoid that and continue on the path which is a bit less well-trodden from Guadalmesi onwards. After 11.5 km you get to a small beach, directly followed by some more ruins on a cliff. Here, you leave the coast. There is a narrow path through the bushes for 100-200 meters before you get to a broad gravel road/track. Initially, this track is quite steep until you get to a farm. The ascent continues a bit more gradual through fields with olive trees and great views until you get to a bifurcation with a better gravel road taking you up to El Pelayo. On this gravel road you have great views of the Strait and Africa, and you pass through a forest of cork oaks. Close to El Pelayo, views open up to the east including Gibraltar. You walk up to the road from Tarifa to Algeciras which you have to cross to get to the bus stop. A restaurant is ~500 m towards Algeciras.
Here you walk along the shoreline across rocky boulders. About 650 m further, you get back to the coastal path.
Bus stop from the Consorcio de Transporte Campo de Gibraltar. Line M150 takes you to Tarifa about 10 times a day. See http://siu.ctmcg.es/en/index.php for information (look for timetable M150 Algeciras-Tarifa). If you do not want to wait you could take a taxi back for about 25 euro's.
Across the road, you have great views of Gibraltar.
Small beach with sand and some rocks.
Causeway between Tarifa and Isla de las Palomas.
On this last stretch of gravel road climbing up to the Algeciras-Tarifa road you have views of Gibraltar.
Here you turn away from the path down to the rocky beach. If you want to avoid the rocky coast stay on the path which follows the coast just above the cliffs.
Here is the gate to the Isla de las Palomas, the island south of Tarifa which is a now a historic site, and the southernmost point of Europe. You cannot normally get onto the island, unless on a guided tour (from town).
Great viewpoint of the harbor, the strait, and Africa.
Bird observation point near the Torre de Guadalmesi
Just a short stretch of narrow path between bushes before you get to a broad track.
Here the path gets to the rocky beach, so you can leave the beach.
Great beach to the west of Tarifa
Square in front of a small church
From this 'punta' you have a great view, and you descend to an arroyo where the path meets a gravel road.
Punta along the coast with view towards Arenillas
Rocky beach, which you can descend to on one side and climb from on the other side
Photogenic ruins of a house
There is a ford here through the river
Gravel road up to El Pelayo
Center of southernmost town of Europe
Tower guarding the sweet water source down the hill: the Rio Guadalmesi
If you do not take the turn-off to this path, but continue on the main track, you get to a fence and you have to turn back or scramble steeply down the hill to the sea.
Here a (steep) unpaved road takes you up to Cerro de la Higuera
Little arroyo with bridge
Small waterfall which might be dry in summer