The Cádiz Provincial Council (la Diputación de Cádiz) has a register of 74 official hiking and walking trails in Campo de Gibraltar.
Although it is practically impossible to determine exactly how many people practice this recreational and sporting activity in our area, there are probably thousands, and among them a good number of people with a true environmental conscience, which makes them the staunchest champions of the natural environment and its wealth.
Hiking is a way of life, as understood by Salvador Andrades, a teacher from Jimena and one of those interesting characters among the legion of people who take to the mountains to discover the most beautiful corners, the archaeological heritage or their natural wealth.
It’s a world that seems distant to most but also an obsession to many others, like Andrades, who felt the call of the mountains at a very young age, “although in reality everything started in 2003, the year in which I had the opportunity to work as an adventure tour leader for a vocational school belonging to the Junta (Casa de Oficios de la Junta). Since then my love of hiking has been growing, and today it is part of my life.”
Andrades reminds us that we live in a privileged environment, surrounded by the last remaining Mediterranean forest, with one of the largest expanses of cork oaks on the planet, with the last virgin river of Andalusia, the Hozgarganta, where you can still see the otters, which are like gauges that indicate the quality of its waters.
This hiker represents thousands who come to feel a true passion for the mountainside, “the mountain can only be loved by anyone who dares to know it. In it I seek peace, freedom, positive energy … that is, happiness”, he says, “because the mountain keeps so many secrets that it is difficult to say no to its call.”
Salvador Andrades is the vice president of the Hikers Association of the Castle of Jimena, whose four founders have been organising routes through Los Alcornocales for three years, with the aim of promoting adventure tourism and publicising the natural and cultural wealth of the town. Hikers from everywhere in Andalusia answer the call, and sometimes there are more than 400 people walking the night routes.
Andrades prefers to hike alone, because “I put my five senses on alert to be able to enjoy every detail that the mountain gives me.”
A SCHOOL IN THE OPEN COUNTRYSIDE
“Children should visit the countryside at an early age and be taught to respect and love nature, so that when they grow up, they have more environmental awareness.”
“Unfortunately, we have a long way to go. There are recycling bins and they are not used correctly, garbage is still thrown in the open, waste is dumped into the water, and the air is polluted without any qualms.”
MY FAVORITE PLACE
“It is the Salao, where the largest waterfall of Los Alcornocales National Park is located, popularly known as the Chorreón del Salao, Cola de Caballo or Crica”
“We should take more care because the hands of man is doing a lot of damage and the cave paintings are disappearing in leaps and bounds. More protective measures should be encouraged.”