Chapter 12: Bikepacking the Altravesur-Abdalajis to Villanueve de Cauche

Updated: Feb 2

26th-27th April 2019


You can see my YouTube on this ride here


I’d spent a whole week at the Refugio de Alamut and in that time I made some new friends. Timo and Dar, the couple that had just started running the hotel when I arrived, had been very kind and helpful to me. Arriving late on a very rainy Thursday evening, they welcomed me and Bay and helped me get cleaned up; me, my clothes, my gear and Bay.

Refugio de Alamut is owned by a lady named Marie-Carmen, when I arrived, she had left the hotel in the hands of Timo and Dar, who were going through the legalities of buying it. It wasn’t until the Wednesday after my arrival on the Thursday, that I met Marie-Carmen. And an un-nerving turn of events occurred! Unknown to me, Timo and Dar had decided that running the hotel wasn’t for them and that they wanted to return to Finland to think about what they will do next. Personally, although disappointing for Marie-Carmen, they made the right decision. Timo and Dar want to travel, they are looking for adventure, in my opinion. They both have touring a motorbike and Timo has a very nice off-road motorbike too.


I had no idea this was going on, and that they had made this decision. It was un-nerving as I’d already paid most of my bill and didn’t want to end up being charged twice! Why I was worried this would happen is that the cancellation of the sale was kept very hush hush, and I only heard through gossip.

Anyway, it all turned out fine, Marie-Carmen and her husband Gabriel returned, Timo and Dah left on their motorbikes. The status quo was resumed. I wish Timo and Dah well, and hope they get in touch sometime!

Marie-Carmen is a very calm and thoughtful lady, she has travelled the world, built Refugio de Alamut and run it for twenty years and now wants to retire. I hope she finds a buyer and gets her wish for a quieter life! If you are interested in buying Refugio de Alamut contact Marie-Carmen directly!

My time at the hotel wasn’t productively spent! I couldn’t afford to do anything that meant paying, like going to walk the Caminito del Rey, which was only 10kms up the road. I’d have loved to have hiked the mountains above the Valle de Abdalajis, but I didn’t have the right footwear or any spare clothing that I could get dirty and wet. I was confined to the hotel, at most a walk into the village, except for one excursion, Michel had to deliver a van to Antequera, so I went along for the ride.


Time was spent in the bar, where I could chat with Jesus, a local builder, or Michel, a Frenchman, living in Abdalajis, from where he runs his paragliding holiday company, Expression Parapente.

Michel was very interesting; he spoke good English, he’d live in North Wales for a few years. Originating from the French Pyrenees area, he’d been living in Abdalajis for many years. We spent a lot of time chatting. A very content man, doing what he loved, paragliding. No frills, no showing off, earning what he needed to get by, and happy with his lot.

I’d had neighbours next to my chalet, a French couple from Bordeaux, Alain and Helene. We were friendly but there was a language barrier, I don’t speak French, Alain spoke some English, and Helene spoke a little English. Our conversations covered the basics! They left on the Tuesday morning, there was heavy rain again, so I’m sure Helene was glad to go!

Best wishes to all I met at Refugio de Alamut; Timo, Dah, Marie-Carmen, Gabriel, Jessica the cleaner, and regular customers Christopher, Jesus and Michel. And neighbours Alain and Helene.


We’d had rain in Abdalajis for the week I was there, it was particularly heavy at times, and very much so on the Wednesday and Thursday before the Friday I was to leave. Which meant the clay surfaced caminos would be too sticky to cycle on. Some said they’d be OK, some said not.


On the Friday morning I decided I’d bypass the mountains and town of Antequera and ride the surfaced road. I want to do as much of the Altravesur route as I can, but sometimes I’ll just have to make a diversion, and not worry about whether I’m ‘doing it right’. I don’t really care!

I wasn’t too bothered about riding far on that day, about 10kms in I stopped at what appeared to be a campsite at Torcal, but it was more a shanty town with permanent huts and caravans, and only one free space between them to pitch a tent. There was a lot of people hanging about, it didn’t look very inviting although there was a very nice restaurant on site. I decided no, this wasn’t for me and got back on the road.

It was our first day of sunshine that Friday. It was a hot ride, for many kilometres, up the mountain road. Standard; I went the wrong way, riding a particularly steep part, only to find I should have turned off just before it! At least it was a downhill ride back.

The turning I’d missed was a camino, there was no choice but to ride this one as it’s the only way to stay on the Altravesur. As it turned out, although it was puddley and muddy in parts, it was traversable with care.

This camino took me into some beautiful scenery, mountains one side, green hills the other. At around 6pm I started to look for a campsite and found a spot after a few aborted reccies.


I setup camp, it felt a little exposed as it was on the side of a mountain at around 900 metres, with nothing sheltering me in any direction. There was a slight breeze as I was setting up, perhaps stronger than a slight breeze, 5 – 10 knots, so I orientated the tent with the thin end towards the wind.


My tent is an Ultra-lightweight one, it’s lightweight because the material is very thin, so can’t survive winds that a more robust tent can. When the wind picked up, falling directly down from the mountain above me, at 8pm, from a slightly different direction, I started to get worried! It was too windy to turn the tent around and was getting battered, so I used around six rocks on each guy rope to hold it down.

At 10pm I was so happy when the wind stopped, completely, not even a breeze, only for it to start again with a vengeance at 11pm. I’m guessing around 25 knots, this continued until around 4am.

I managed to get some sleep but was woken every so often by the wind. At least the tent survived the night intact! The winds were due to kick-off again at around 10am, so I was up early and ready to leave before then.

It was a nice descent from my camping spot to the end of the camino that came out onto a main road, which led to the main highway from Malaga. I took a slight detour and rode into the hamlet of Villanueva de Cauche, although a hamlet, there was a very nice restaurant at the village entrance, Bar la Peña, run by Paco.

Paco was very nice and chatty, as much as I can chat in Spanish. I ordered a cheese and tomato bocadillo, made by Fillipe, who did speak some English, and had a couple of cups of coffee. Before getting on my way Paco filled all my water bottles and bladders as I’d nearly ran out, which was very kind of him.

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