Jennifer & Jeremy, Bike tour Granada to Ronda September 2022
Some of the finest and most enjoyable cycling we have ever done. We did the trip at the very end of September and the weather was near perfect (highs around 25 degrees, sunny, very little wind) apart from day 3 when it was quite windy which made it hard on the uphills and a bit scary on the downhills, so we did much of that day slowly and unclipped. Please note there is very little shade so make sure you stay hydrated (we put isotonic pills in our water to help) and pace yourself. We live in Scotland and I don't think we'd want to do this in the height of summer. The altitude meant nights were pleasantly cool which was good for relaxing and sleeping (and for climbs early in the morning).
It's a hilly route and after the pandemic we weren't fit and we aren't hardcore cyclists anyway (and in our 40s and 50s), but we paced ourselves and it was fine, the only thing we'd mention to travellers is that the detour to see El Torcal is a steep 350 meters climb which was too much for us at the end of that windy day. But fitter cyclists will likely enjoy it, and it is a scenic place. And on the last day we took the taxi option on offer and started 200 m below the top of the last big hill, as we were tired. The hill wasn't as steep as we feared so retrospectively we could have done the whole route that day, but we don't regret taking the easy option and finishing our trip gently. The landscape was magnificent and much more varied than we expected, from olive and almond trees to fruit and vegs cultures and limestone mountains. The old railway track on day 2 was a highlight, as was the main road on day 4. The bikes were better than we expected, we got Cannondale 29ers with hydraulic disc brakes (important for the downhills), lockable forks and 2x10 drive trains (including a low "granny" gear which really helped on the climbs). We brought our own pedals and seats as usual. The turn-by-turn instructions were good, and we were given gpx tracks to load on our phones which made navigation a breeze. We got prompt and helpful support from Sandra throughout the route using WhatsApp (and mobile data reception is surprisingly good even in remote areas). The roads were in very good condition (definitely better than in the UK), quieter than we expected, and drivers generally very considerate. The off-road parts were fun and not technical (of course it's harder work to go up on gravel and rocks than on tarmac!). Alhama, Antequera and Ronda were lovely, if we had to do it again we'd ask for an additional night in Antequera which deserves it and also to rest for a bit. We booked an extra night in Granada at the beginning (to do the Alhambra) and an extra night in the end in Ronda (to relax including in the Aguas de Ronda spa) and we really recommend doing both. The Caminito del Rey should also definitely be done (and booked well in advance), it's a two and a half hour easy hike that we did at the end of the day. The accommodation was great throughout, several hotels were 1-2 stars but that's because they don't have 24h reception or a mini bar, which we don't care about, instead they have beautiful terraces / gardens, friendly and helpful staff, and honesty bars with sometimes excellent wine. We'll take that over a Parador anytime. Our hotel in Ronda in particular was one of the best we've ever stayed at anywhere in the world, a haven of peace (we recommend upgrading to a room with a private patio/balcony if available). Food options along the route were generally excellent as can be expected, we followed the recommendations from the French Guide Du Routard which in our experience knows better that the Lonely Planet. Spain is big on meat and fish and eggs and cheese so vegans might want to do some planning ahead and notify Otros Caminos. Breakfast is generally a light meal in Spain, but Otros Caminos made sure they were substantial enough to get us started for the day. The transfers of bags went smoothly. This is a beautiful part of the world and we had an excellent experience with Otros Caminos, so we plan to come back next year to continue the route from Ronda towards Cadiz, and if we have time onwards along the Costa de la Luz (Atlantic coast). Both trips are offered by Otros Camino. They also do a route from Córdoba to Granada which looks tempting.