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Distance

13.06 mi

Elevation gain

1,325 ft

Technical difficulty

Moderate

Elevation loss

482 ft

Max elevation

896 ft

Trailrank

69 5

Min elevation

-28 ft

Trail type

One Way

Time

5 hours 42 minutes

Coordinates

2455

Uploaded

June 4, 2018

Recorded

May 2018
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896 ft
-28 ft
13.06 mi

Viewed 7460 times, downloaded 81 times

near 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.
Information point

Beach with rocks

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  • Photo of Beach with rocks
  • Photo of Beach with rocks
  • Photo of Beach with rocks
Here you walk along the shoreline across rocky boulders. About 650 m further, you get back to the coastal path.
Bus stop

Bus-stop

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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.
Beach

Cala Arenillas

  • Photo of Cala Arenillas
  • Photo of Cala Arenillas
  • Photo of Cala Arenillas
  • Photo of Cala Arenillas
  • Photo of Cala Arenillas
  • Photo of Cala Arenillas
Small beach with sand and some rocks.
Castle

Castillo de Santa Catalina

  • Photo of Castillo de Santa Catalina
  • Photo of Castillo de Santa Catalina
  • Photo of Castillo de Santa Catalina
  • Photo of Castillo de Santa Catalina
Fort fronting the beach
Information point

Causeway

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  • Photo of Causeway
  • Photo of Causeway
  • Photo of Causeway
  • Photo of Causeway
Causeway between Tarifa and Isla de las Palomas.
Information point

Climb to El Pelayo with views of Gibraltar

  • Photo of Climb to El Pelayo with views of Gibraltar
  • Photo of Climb to El Pelayo with views of Gibraltar
  • Photo of Climb to El Pelayo with views of Gibraltar
  • Photo of Climb to El Pelayo with views of Gibraltar
  • Photo of Climb to El Pelayo with views of Gibraltar
  • Photo of Climb to El Pelayo with views of Gibraltar
On this last stretch of gravel road climbing up to the Algeciras-Tarifa road you have views of Gibraltar.
Information point

Descent to rocky beach

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  • Photo of Descent to rocky beach
  • Photo of Descent to rocky beach
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.
Information point

Isla de las Palomas

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  • Photo of Isla de las Palomas
  • Photo of Isla de las Palomas
  • Photo of Isla de las Palomas
  • Photo of Isla de las Palomas
  • Photo of Isla de las Palomas
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).
Panorama

Mirador del Estrecho

  • Photo of Mirador del Estrecho
  • Photo of Mirador del Estrecho
  • Photo of Mirador del Estrecho
  • Photo of Mirador del Estrecho
  • Photo of Mirador del Estrecho
  • Photo of Mirador del Estrecho
Great viewpoint of the harbor, the strait, and Africa.
Panorama

Observatorio de Aves Guadalmesi

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  • Photo of Observatorio de Aves Guadalmesi
  • Photo of Observatorio de Aves Guadalmesi
  • Photo of Observatorio de Aves Guadalmesi
  • Photo of Observatorio de Aves Guadalmesi
  • Photo of Observatorio de Aves Guadalmesi
Bird observation point near the Torre de Guadalmesi
Information point

Path between the bushes

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  • Photo of Path between the bushes
  • Photo of Path between the bushes
  • Photo of Path between the bushes
Just a short stretch of narrow path between bushes before you get to a broad track.
Information point

Path joins beach

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  • Photo of Path joins beach
  • Photo of Path joins beach
  • Photo of Path joins beach
  • Photo of Path joins beach
  • Photo of Path joins beach
Here the path gets to the rocky beach, so you can leave the beach.
Beach

Playa Los Lances

  • Photo of Playa Los Lances
  • Photo of Playa Los Lances
  • Photo of Playa Los Lances
  • Photo of Playa Los Lances
  • Photo of Playa Los Lances
  • Photo of Playa Los Lances
Great beach to the west of Tarifa
Information point

Plaza de Santa Maria

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  • Photo of Plaza de Santa Maria
  • Photo of Plaza de Santa Maria
  • Photo of Plaza de Santa Maria
  • Photo of Plaza de Santa Maria
Square on a hill
Information point

Plaza del Ángel

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  • Photo of Plaza del Ángel
  • Photo of Plaza del Ángel
  • Photo of Plaza del Ángel
Square in front of a small church
Information point

Punta de Canales

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  • Photo of Punta de Canales
  • Photo of Punta de Canales
  • Photo of Punta de Canales
  • Photo of Punta de Canales
  • Photo of Punta de Canales
From this 'punta' you have a great view, and you descend to an arroyo where the path meets a gravel road.
Information point

Punta de la Parra

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  • Photo of Punta de la Parra
  • Photo of Punta de la Parra
  • Photo of Punta de la Parra
  • Photo of Punta de la Parra
  • Photo of Punta de la Parra
Punta along the coast with view towards Arenillas
Information point

Restos antiguo cuartel Arenillas

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  • Photo of Restos antiguo cuartel Arenillas
  • Photo of Restos antiguo cuartel Arenillas
  • Photo of Restos antiguo cuartel Arenillas
  • Photo of Restos antiguo cuartel Arenillas
  • Photo of Restos antiguo cuartel Arenillas
Ruins
Information point

Rocky Beach

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  • Photo of Rocky Beach
  • Photo of Rocky Beach
  • Photo of Rocky Beach
  • Photo of Rocky Beach
  • Photo of Rocky Beach
Rocky beach, which you can descend to on one side and climb from on the other side
Information point

Ruins of a house

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  • Photo of Ruins of a house
  • Photo of Ruins of a house
  • Photo of Ruins of a house
  • Photo of Ruins of a house
  • Photo of Ruins of a house
Photogenic ruins of a house
Information point

Río Guadalmesí

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  • Photo of Río Guadalmesí
  • Photo of Río Guadalmesí
  • Photo of Río Guadalmesí
  • Photo of Río Guadalmesí
  • Photo of Río Guadalmesí
There is a ford here through the river
Religious site

San Mateo

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  • Photo of San Mateo
Church
Information point

Sendero Cerro del Tambor

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Gravel road up to El Pelayo
Information point

Sendero Colada de la Costa

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  • Photo of Sendero Colada de la Costa
  • Photo of Sendero Colada de la Costa
  • Photo of Sendero Colada de la Costa
  • Photo of Sendero Colada de la Costa
The coastal path
Information point

Tarifa

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  • Photo of Tarifa
  • Photo of Tarifa
  • Photo of Tarifa
  • Photo of Tarifa
  • Photo of Tarifa
Center of southernmost town of Europe
Ruins

Torre Vigía Guadalmesi

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  • Photo of Torre Vigía Guadalmesi
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  • Photo of Torre Vigía Guadalmesi
  • Photo of Torre Vigía Guadalmesi
  • Photo of Torre Vigía Guadalmesi
Tower guarding the sweet water source down the hill: the Rio Guadalmesi
Information point

Turn-off to avoid scramble

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  • Photo of Turn-off to avoid scramble
  • Photo of Turn-off to avoid scramble
  • Photo of Turn-off to avoid scramble
  • Photo of Turn-off to avoid scramble
  • Photo of Turn-off to avoid scramble
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.
Information point

Unpaved road to Cerro de la Higuera

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  • Photo of Unpaved road to Cerro de la Higuera
  • Photo of Unpaved road to Cerro de la Higuera
  • Photo of Unpaved road to Cerro de la Higuera
  • Photo of Unpaved road to Cerro de la Higuera
  • Photo of Unpaved road to Cerro de la Higuera
Here a (steep) unpaved road takes you up to Cerro de la Higuera
Bridge

Valley with bridge

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Little arroyo with bridge
Information point

Waterfall Arroyo Barranco de Oliveros

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  • Photo of Waterfall Arroyo Barranco de Oliveros
  • Photo of Waterfall Arroyo Barranco de Oliveros
  • Photo of Waterfall Arroyo Barranco de Oliveros
  • Photo of Waterfall Arroyo Barranco de Oliveros
  • Photo of Waterfall Arroyo Barranco de Oliveros
Small waterfall which might be dry in summer
Information point

Wood with cork oaks

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  • Photo of Wood with cork oaks
  • Photo of Wood with cork oaks
  • Photo of Wood with cork oaks
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Wood with cork oaks

6 comments

  • Photo of carol16

    carol16 Nov 2, 2018

    I have followed this trail  View more

    Thank you for sharing this trail. I had a wonderful hike yesterday. The way was easy to find and I enjoyed the beatiful landscape very much.

  • Photo of Tjaart Molenkamp

    Tjaart Molenkamp Nov 2, 2018

    Thanks, Carol, for your review. I am glad you enjoyed the hike!

  • Photo of ttanne

    ttanne Nov 5, 2018

    I have followed this trail  verified  View more

    I enjoyed this hiking tour very much. Simply great. Thanks.

  • Photo of Tjaart Molenkamp

    Tjaart Molenkamp Nov 6, 2018

    Glad you liked the tour that much, ttanne! Thanks for the review.

  • Photo of Andrea Giorgi 2

    Andrea Giorgi 2 Aug 12, 2021

    It sounds great and well explained. Can’t wait to do it.
    Thanks Tjaart for sharing such a detailed description and pictures.

  • Photo of Tjaart Molenkamp

    Tjaart Molenkamp Aug 18, 2021

    Hi Andrea, thanks for your positive remarks! Hopefully you will like it, or maybe you already did?

You can or this trail