Life In The Las Alpujarras

Southern Spain: my first adventure of 2015 and my first time in the country. Our destination? Pampaneira, a little mountain village in the Las Alpujarras region, near Granada and on the southern edges of the Sierra Nevada.

I’m not quite sure what I was expecting when I imagined Spain – in reality the landscape was a little like Greece, in that it’s habitats are Mediterranean, but with a lot more orange and lemon trees hanging around. The drive along the coast from Malaga was nice, but the area was very built up and industrialised.

When we reached the mountains though, heading north from Motril, the landscape changed and became more lush and forested and dramatic, with whitewashed houses perching on outcrops and clinging to the mountain sides. Bags of oranges were for sale by the road for 2 euros each, the villages we drove through had character, the houses splashed with bits of colour, and we saw prickly pears everywhere. And the sunset on the first night was simply gorgeous.


Pampaneira itself is one of three pretty villages along the Poqueira gorge, the others being Bubión and Capileira. I fell in love with the place as soon as we reached it, sitting on the hillside bathed in golden light as the sun set. For the three nights we were in Pampaneira we stayed at a house we found on Airbnb, and it had been beautifully restored in the traditional way with a cosy log fire, whitewashed walls, and dark wooden furniture. We even had a roof top terrace!

Airbnb – Abel


Life seemed to have slowed right down in this village – shops and restaurants closed at 2 or 3pm and didn’t open again until 5 or 6pm, so we got to wander around looking at richly coloured rugs and pottery in the evening before eating. The bakery had some delicious breads and chocolate, and even though the lady didn’t speak English, it was easy to get across what we wanted!

The best hour of the week though, for me, was coming across a little shop in a side street selling hams, cheeses, olive oil, wine, and honey. Pepe spoke no English either, but we got on well enough. The three of us spent a happy hour trying different cheeses and meats, with Pepe joining in with the wine tasting, describing what each one was like through miming and facial expressions – which was very funny. We came away loaded with goodies, with a promise we’d be back if we ever visited the area again. I have never met anyone so passionate about his livelihood, and so happy to spend time sharing his love of good food and drink with strangers.

Another memorable character we came across was Chris. We picked up Chris who was hitch-hiking a lift to Beneficio, a permanent Rainbow Gathering in the hills above Órgiva. Chris originates from Nottinghamshire in the UK but hasn’t lived here for about 28 years.

A hippy all over, Chris is part of a community living along a gorge. The Rainbow Community has about 200 people at the moment, living simply and off the land as much as possible and growing their own vegetables, coming together in evenings to sing and play music in tepees and step away from the world – no electricity, no running water bar fresh clean water from springs and the stream running through the valley.


#WeekendWanderlust with Justin Plus Lauren

#SundayTraveler with Pack Me To

#wkendtravelinspiration with Reflections Enroute



  1. Whoa! Interesting experience to pick up a hitchhiker! I’ve never done that before (and frankly too scared to). He seems like a very interesting character. I would be so happy sampling meats, cheese, and wine in Spain! Spanish jamon is the best. When D went, he brought back a little package, and it was sooo good that I’m still drooling when I think about it!
    Were you here on a work trip?

    • Rachel Bates says:

      I love picking up hitch hikers :-) I don’t pick up every one I see, just the interesting looking ones! It wasn’t a work trip this time, just pure chilling out time. Heading back to Spain again, unexpectedly, at the end of the month, as a friend has a free house for 6 weeks. Would be rude not to take him up on the offer… right?!

  2. Wow. I’ve never heard of these three towns, but they sound like great getaways! I love the photo of the town and a dusting of snow. Thanks for linking up with #wkendtravelinspiration.

  3. We loved the south of Spain, it seems that all of it has that look and feel from what I see in your pictures…lovely

    • Rachel Bates says:

      After a sudden decision we’re going back there in two weeks for 8 days, a little road trip through different areas, so I’m looking forward to seeing the character of different places and if it’s the same.

  4. This is not what comes to mind when I think of Spain (is that snow I see?!), but it does make sense. The country is huge. I think I would be plenty happy to “chat” with a shopkeeper and sample cheese and meats. Sounds like the perfect way to spend an afternoon.

    • Rachel Bates says:

      I know! My image of Spain was sunshine and warmth, which there was – along the coast it was about 18 degrees. But we were high up in the mountains, over 1,000m (3200ft) in Pampaneira so as well as sunshine we had lots of snow!

  5. Your visit to the cheese shop sounds wonderful! What a treat.

    Thanks for sharing your travels and photos.


  6. This sounds just wonderful; fresh oranges, sunsets, views and best of all… mountains! It must have been great to go somewhere so unknown and with so much character and the airbnb apartment looks so cute :)

  7. Oh my, I’d be too scared to pick up a hitchhiker, which is a shame really. Thanks for linking up with us for #SundayTraveler

    • Rachel Bates says:

      Well, I was with someone else, but I usually get a vibe – this guy seemed quirky but friendly enough! I don’t pick up many hitch hikers.

  8. I stayed in Bubion a few years ago. We visited in May and spent a week walking in the mountains – loved it! #sundaytraveller

    • Rachel Bates says:

      Great to hear from someone who has stayed in the area! We are hoping to back again in the summer for a week of walking. #SundayTraveller

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