These two limestone mountain chains are united by another, very different mountain system, the Sierra Alpujata, which is composed of peridotite rock. You will skirt its entire southern margin.
From Ojén you must climb up to a level of 350 metres on average to be able to walk the cols and valleys forming this reddish-coloured sierra, with mountain streams meandering through, and even maintaining stable population of fish. The mountains contain a multitude of country roads and forest tracks which are frequented by mountains bikers. Mountain bike might be the best form of transport for the fi rst part of the Stage, given its total length of 40 kilometres and the significant cumulative elevation gain.
Whilst Ojén is located right at the union of two very different geologies, the enormous basin of Río Fuengirola separates Sierra Alpujata from Sierra de Mijas with its deep valley cut in the gneiss, slate, and schist, which are much more prone to erosion. This is the reason behind the major ascents and descents here. The descents are done on tarmac while the ascents on the jumble of dirt tracks which offer little hard surface.
The last part, from the intersection with the A-355 road leading to Puerto de los Pescadores, takes the walker on the ultimate climb along the steep southern slopes of the Mijas mountains, passing by the Ermita del Calvario until the fi nish in the vicinity of the village.
Ojén and Mijas are both privileged sites on the Costa del Sol. Their whitewashed houses, the winding streets, rural environment and natural mountain environments are some of the reasons why a visit is always recommended. Both have been built on rocks of travertine origin, whose crags and caves are integrated into the villages, and Ojén also has numerous natural springs which convert its surroundings into fertile orchards. Sierra Alpujata is one of the mountain chains which, located at the back of the Costa del Sol, has been almost forgotten. The peridotite rock is one of the main rocks which form the sierra which infl uences amongst other things, the specialisation and exclusiveness of its plants and the scarceness of human settlements.
These are limited to the fertile fl uvial plains, las vegas, of the very numerous streams, (which are of great importance because of the fauna they harbour) or areas of slate rock with deeper and more fertile soils where the Cork oak groves proliferate.
The terrifying fire of summer 2012 has devastated 8.000 hectares of mainly forested land where Maritime pine was the predominant species. The consequences of this for mountain ecosystems are evident throughout the tour, although fortunately there are specialist plants which have managed to overcome the disaster, growing new leaves such as Cork oaks or the non-native Eucalyptus, the Canary Island pines, germinating from scatter seeds just as the Maritime pine, or growing anew from the old stumps and roots like the Dwarf palm, Heath and Esparto. Over the years the GR-249 walkers will be able to keep witnessing the evolution of the Mediterranean vegetation which, once more, survives the blaze.
At the Cerro del Púlpito, a magnificent lookout point, already suggested by the name (pulpit or platform), an improvised bird observatory has been established by the organisation called SEO Málaga (Sociedad Española de Ornitología, similar to British RSPB and American Audubon Society) for monitoring prenuptial and postnuptial migrations of birds to and from Africa, helped by the thermals generated by the bare stone outcrops.
The Entrerríos area is much tamer and for this reason you will encounter many roads and houses which initially were farming ettlements; nowadays they are residential. The hills that connect with the sierra used to be covered by dry crops and vineyards, but now have become no man´s land with an incipient thorny scrub resistant to drought, creating a landscape somewhat misplaced in time, two steps away from the coast.
So it is the feeling of immersing yourself in the forests of the Sierra de Mijas, where the mountains are cut by the gashes of marble and aggregate quarries, but still preserve a part of their undeniable natural values.