The Serranía de Ronda boasts one of the most impressive autumn landscapes in the interior of the province of Málaga. It is the so-called Copper Forest, a metaphor referring to the spectacular landscape that nature treats us to every year when the leaves fall from the chestnut trees, covering the hills with browns, yellows, oranges and ochres.
The Copper Forest is located solely in the Genal Valley, one of the three largest geographical areas (alongside the plateau and the Guadiaro Valley) that make up the landscape of the Serranía de Ronda, and given the forest’s location at the heart of the Baetic System, it has a distinctly mountainous character.
The Copper Forest is home to the municipalities of Alpandeire, Benalauría, Cartajima, Faraján, Genalguacil, Igualeja, Jubrique, Júzcar, Parauta, Pujerra and Yunquera (the latter of which being part of the bordering region, the Sierra de las Nieves). We find ourselves amongst small, quaint white villages that appear to be glowing with tinges of copper from the chestnut trees, except for Júzcar, whose blue houses have earned it the nickname "Smurf village". Each of these villages has its own charm, and it’s worth stopping off to see them if you are touring the area.
In this unique landscape, it is the mountainsides filled with chestnut groves that stand out, and it is possible to walk through them on various paths. You can also enjoy stunning views from different vantage points and strategic points located in the area’s numerous towns.
We then come across a region of natural beauty, which has a host of different landscapes and ecosystems that are the result of the complex relief of the area, the diversity of the soil, the river valleys and exposure to the Atlantic, which endow the area with the perfect level of humidity for sustaining dense forests of corn oaks, evergreen oaks, pine trees and chestnut trees. It is because of this that the Serranía de Ronda also offers several sports activities and outdoor activities in what could be described as one of the most changing and beautiful surroundings in Andalusia.
The symphony of water
The coming of autumn sees the rivers, streams and sources of the Serranía de Ronda rise from their slumber of the summer months. A multitude of streams flow down from the peaks of the Sierra de Nieves, and form the region's three main rivers: the Guadalteba, the Guadiaro and the Genal. Shortly after the first rains fall, the water once again begins to gush forth. Such is the case for the source of the Benaoján, one of the largest branches of the Guadiaro river.
This can also be seen on the other side of the basin at the source of the Guadiaro river in the town of Igualeja. The way it springs forth from the mountain has also become a spectacle, even though its waters are much calmer. The Genal river flows through the municipalities of Igualeja, Pujerra, Parauta, Cartajima, Júzcar, Faraján, Alpandeire, Atajate, Benadalid, Benalauría, Algatocín, Benarrabá, Jubrique, Genalguacil and Gaucín.
The steep mountainsides and dense forest of chestnut trees and corn oaks makes this valley a real paradise for hiking lovers, especially in summer and winter. You can go climbing and ascend the routes set out in the high and bare limestone summits of vegetation that separate the waters of the Genal and Guadiaro river.