Stunning white villages; Granada's beautiful Alhambra Palace
Outstanding value fully inclusive: many dates with no single supplement
At a glance...
7 nights, single centre
Departs Selected Saturdays/ Thursdays from 20 Dec '14 to 23 May '15
All meals (including wine)
Managed locally by hotelier
Sustainability rating: 92%
Holidays with gastronomic meals.
Varied routes for nature lovers and botanists.
Destinations with bird watching opportunities.
Discover stunning historic sites en-route.
Lots of swimming opportunities.
Great vegetarian meal options.
Especailly good for solo travellers.
Secrets of Andalucia
Situated in the heart of the southern Andalucian province of Axarquia, and on the edge of the Tejeda National Park, the restored 4-acorn Hotel Finca el Cerrillo is, quite simply, an absolute gem of a place to stay. It's just 30 minutes' drive from the coast, yet feels a million miles away!
There are just twelve individually styled en-suite rooms - all south facing - and each with air conditioning (central heating for the cooler months) and tea/coffee making facilities. The living areas include a wonderfully atmospheric beamed lounge - cool in summer and kept cosy on winter nights with blazing log fire - dining room, small library and 'honesty' bar. Outside, the terraced gardens, with 100-year old carob and palm trees, surround both sunny and shaded patios. The pool affords stunning views of the valley below and the pretty Moorish village of Archez with its C13 Moorish tower.
The food here is superb with menus relying on fresh, local produce. On four evenings, you eat at the Finca - either in the dining room or al fresco on warm evenings - and on the remaining nights we take you to our favourite local restaurants. Wine (1/2 bottle per person) is always included throughout as are all breakfasts and picnic/tapas lunches.
Our experienced mountain leader will accompany all walks. Some of our paths will take us off-the-beaten-track in the Tejeda National Park; on other days, we'll be exploring the pretty white villages and olive-planted hillsides that date back to Moorish times.
We meet you at Malaga airport and take you to Canillas de Albaida (1 hour).
Day 2 - Three Villages Walk 10km/6mi/4hr
Heading out directly from the hotel, it's down first through olives and almonds to the Moorish village of Archez, famous for its beautifully decorated Mudejar church tower. It's then a gradual climb along traditionally farmed terraces up to Competa where some of the finest sweet wines in Spain are produced: beautiful C16 church, enjoy a tapas lunch in the lively village square before an easy path back to the Hotel.
Day 3 - The Silk Route 12km/7mi/6hr
Today's path traverses part of the ancient bandit mule trail used to transport silk from Competa to Granada. Walking beneath the majestic peaks of the Sierra Almijara, we can often see right out towards North Africa's Rif Mountains. It's big bird country here too with regular sightings of griffon vultures and other birds of prey. Our final stretch takes us down through wild fennel, rosemary and lavender and back to Canillas in time for a late afternoon swim.
Day 4 - Sedella and The Cajula Valley 10km/6mi/4hr
Today we walk through classic Andalucian countryside - almonds, olives and orange groves - of the fertile Cajula valley. We ascend through farmed terraces to the village of Sedella set at the foot of the imposing La Maroma (2069m) the highest peak in the region. There is time for a cool drink in Salvador's bar in Sedella before a short drive back to the Hotel.
Day 5 - Independent exploring in Granada
After breakfast, we take you to the beautiful city of Granada where you have the day to explore at leisure. We have included entrance fees for the world-famous Alhambra Palace - possibly the most exciting and romantic of all Moorish monuments - and tickets will have been pre-booked for you.
Day 6 - Salares and the Arroyo Valley 11km/7mi/5.5hr
We head up through olives and citrus groves passing the tiny hamlet of Fogarate: this is the 'real' Spain where farmers still travel by mule and harvest their terraces by hand. After a gentle descent into the verdant Arroyo valley - stunning views out across the sea towards the distant shores of Morocco on a clear day - it's on to Salares, one of the prettiest villages in the area with flowers spilling from every balcony, patio and window box. There is an interesting church, Santa Ana, still bearing an old Moorish minaret.
Day 7 - Sierra Almijara 12km/7mi/5hr
After a short minibus transfer (15 mins), we head off through majestic pine woods cradled by the peaks of the Cerro Atalaya (1256m) and Cerro Verde (1326m). Our path is a riot of colour - bright red poppies, wild iris, yellow jasmine and pink oleander - and there is a good chance of spotting golden eagles soaring overhead. We picnic at the summit of Cerro Verde - stunning 360o views out over the Sierra Almijara and out across the Mediterranean.
Day 8 - Leave Canillas de Albaida
We take you back to Malaga airport after breakfast.
Please note a revised 1+ boot itinerary is in place from March 2015 onwards. Please call our sales team for further information.
This single-centre holiday is based at the following hotel. If you'd like to extend your stay here, or upgrade your room, just let us know at the time of booking.
Finca el Cerillo, Canillas de Albaida (4 Acorn)
Situated in the heart of the southern Andalucian province of Axarquia, and on the edge of the Tejeda National Park, the Finca el Cerrillo is an absolute gem of a place to stay. Run by Sue and Gordon Kind along with manager - chef, Christine, and dog, Sybil, it is a comfortably restored 200-year old farmhouse (it was used as an olive mill between 1805 and 1960).
There are just thirteen individually styled air-conditioned en-suite rooms - all south-facing. The living areas include a wonderfully atmospheric beamed lounge - cool in the summer and kept cosy on winter nights with blazing log fire - dining room, small library and 'honesty' bar. Outside, the terraced gardens, with 100-year old carob and palm trees surround both sunny and shaded patios. The pool affords stunning views of the valley below and the pretty Moorish village of Archez with its 13th century Moorish tower.
The 4-star Hotel Becquer is a lovely hotel, with lots of original features, and is just 10 minutes' walk from the historic old quarter and cathedral. There is a large airy lounge with plenty of seating, a breakfast room and attached tapas bar.
The Molina Lario is perfectly situated in the old town just a stone’s throw from the Cathedral, known as ‘the one armed lady’, and within easy walking distance of the other key sights.
The recently built hotel is formed of one new building merged with 2 19th Century buildings, retaining their original façade. The rooftop pool and bar is perfect for relaxing after a days sightseeing, with views over the city and harbour.
The 103 rooms exude comfort and tranquility, with robes, slippers and a pillow menu to ensure you have a good night’s sleep. Tea and coffee making facilities and complementary mineral water are available in all rooms.
Breakfast is a hot and cold buffet which can be taken in the central courtyard.
Transfers included from Malaga airport at 10:45, and back to Malaga airport at 08:45. 20th December 2014 departure transfers included from Malaga airport at 10:15, and back to Malaga airport at 12:15 Please call our sales team on 1-800-567-6286 or email email@example.com to arrange connecting flights.
Everyone who goes on a Headwater holiday will be emailed a link to our post-holiday questionnaire where they can give us an honest assessment of all aspects of their holiday - everything from how quickly we answer the phone to how clean the hotels were - plus, of course, an overall rating and comments about their holiday.
Any feedback collected is posted straight to our website - totally unedited. So, for the real tales, twists and turns of our holidays, look no further than the reviews from our previous travellers.
Reviewed by Mrs Gajraj on 31/05/2014
Breathtaking scenery for our walks with a friendly, knowledgeable guide. Then, back to the Finca- a real gem of a hotel, nestling in the hills amongst typical white villages- for a swim before an excellent evening meal. On three nights we were taken to local restaurants where the food, though very good, still couldn't compete with the Finca. Sue, Gordon and Sybil (the dog) are wonderful hosts - no wonder they have so many visitors who return year after year !
Reviewed by Mr Brown on 28/05/2014
Main concern was the grading of the walking routes, I run 10 miles each week, fitness is a priority , but found the gradients challenging as did many group members, ascents and descents.Thursdays walk was gentle and everyone enjoyed it more as we were able to take in the views , flowers ,without having our eyes glued to the terrain in case of fall, stumble, several of the group fell on previous walks, not what you want from a holiday.
The group dynamics were excellent and much laughter was shared, the idea of inhouse and restaurant meals, tapis lunches was the perfect mix. We did enjoy our holiday very much.
Reviewed by Mr Magee on 21/05/2014
Very welcoming owners in hotel in a beautiful area of Spain
Reviewed by Mrs Johnson on 29/04/2014
We were fantastically fortunate with the weather, the organisation was excellent and the Finca was a superb base for the walks. It is easy to see why visitors return several times - walkers and non-walkers alike. Our travel arrangements were good and Jenny, our guide, fun and informative. Food at the finca was exceptional and the atmosphere was a great balance of friendliness and conversation and peaceful relaxation. This was a beautiful time to visit with all the Spring flowers. Having tickets for the Alhambra and having transport arranged was a real plus - especially during Holy week.
Reviewed by Mr Lambert on 25/04/2014
We thoroughly enjoyed our holiday at the Finca el Cerillo and our hosts Sue and Gordon could not have been more helpful and considerate. The location, high on a ridge, gave wonderful views of the steep, rugged valleys with white villages clinging to the crests and in the distance the Mediterranean. Our bedroom was large, the bed equally so and very comfortable and the tiled bathroom had underfloor heating-great! The food at the Finca and the local restaurants was very good and the wines at the Finca first class. The walking was tough, lots of steep ascents on rocky paths. After the first morning we took the gentler option accompanied by Rose a super local guide. We hope to visit the Finca el Cerillo again.
Reviewed by Mrs Potts on 24/04/2014
The Finca is a terrific destination for people who wish to enjoy rural Spain but the experience is heightened by the quality of the hospitality provided by Sue, Gordon, David and Christine. Their welcoming and informative approach, and the eye for detail, guarantees a good experience and, combined with the quality of the guides (principally Jenny), ensures a great holiday.
Reviewed by Mis Smith on 14/04/2014
If you're looking for a completely stress-free holiday then book with Headwater. I didn't have to think about any arrangements for the week as they were all taken care of. The finca is the ultimate retreat and Sue, Gordon and Jenny were all outstanding in their welcome and guidance. I can't wait to go back and will use Headwater again for another trip.
Reviewed by Mr Newbery on 12/04/2014
I think that the Hotel Finca el Cerillo is a delightful location, with a wonderfully warm welcome by the owners Sue and Gordon. The rooms are all individually presented, and the mals provided in house were excellent and on other nights the local restaurants used were very good. The walking is guided by Jenny who maintains a steady pace that anyone with modest levels of fitness should be able to maintain while spotting out all sorts of flora and fauna.
I would not hesitate to recommmend this hotel to other travellers.
My one caution is that the some of the walking is at the upper end of a 2 boot grading.
Reviewed by Mr Longshaw on 25/03/2014
The Finca, the base for the 'Secrets of Andalucia' holiday is worth more than five stars! The welcome, friendliness of the owners an staff, and the 'house party atmosphere contribute to making this one of the best Headwater Holidays we have taken. Of course we went for the walking (and to get away from the cold weather) and this turned out to be pretty good as well. Jenny was the main guide, who was helped out by Rose when he walk was split into two levels. Both were excellent in their knowledge of the local flora, fauna and routes. The meals provided at the Finca were superb, and he packed lunches extremely filling. As part of the package two lunches and three diners were taken at local restaurants and this enabled us to sample local cooking aswell.
Overall a superb holiday that ticked all the boxes for us!
Reviewed by Mrs Ritchie on 25/03/2014
Setting,food and walking were superb. Gordon and Sue were exceptional hosts and Christine's food deserved a rosette!
Reviewed by Mrs Quincey on 25/03/2014
Excellent hotel and fantastic food, very friendly staff, taxis arranged to local restaurants, super walking with a great guide, lovely views in the hills and very quiet location. Only drawback really is that the hotel is a good walk from the nearest villages and towns, so you can't pop out after a walk to have a look around or do a bit of shopping unless you use a taxi, or get the boots out again. The map provided for the holiday wasn't any use for walking - good job we had a guide!
Reviewed by Mr Hensman on 03/11/2013
We had a wonderful week at the Finca. It's a beautiful location and the hotel owners Sue and Gordon and their staff are great as is the food with a balance of eating in and out at local restaurants every other day.
The grading as leisurely is a little surprising as although the pace is not relentless the terrain is a little challenging at times and the week is packed with activity. That said it is of course not obligatory to undertake every walk or activity. The finca is a wonderful place just to relax.
On our week we had the benefit of Sue Bishop, a professional photographer. All took advantage of her great knowledge and skills which were freely and generously given.
We intend to revisit the Finca in the future.
Reviewed by Mr Clews on 30/10/2013
I couldn't fault the location, the ambience, seclusion and comfort of the hotel, and how well we were looked after by the hosts, Sue and Gordon. They treated us like friends and bade us farewell as such. My only complaint is that the walking was tougher than advertised. I don't do vertigo-inducing walks and the last day gave me 2 hours of fear and feeling very uncomfortable and I had to be patiently guided by a very understanding guide. Being classed as a leisurely walking holiday, is the reason I chose this holiday, so I feel let down and misled by this description. I questioned the guide about the classification and she understood it to be classed as moderate. It doesn't say this on your website!
I will no doubt take another holiday with you, but if I feel misled the next time, it will be the last time I choose Headwater.
Reviewed by Mrs Woodward on 30/10/2013
Welcoming hotel and great walking guide. Exactly as described. Level of walking was rather more than leisurely though. The group decided that it was more of a Moderate grade.
Reviewed by Mr Baker on 30/10/2013
A wonderful holiday, but be aware that although the pace of walking may be leisurely the terrain is very hilly, making the walks moderate rather than easy.
Reviewed by Mr Wardrop on 25/09/2013
Lovely accomodation with hosts who went out of their way to make you feel like family friends. One of the best guides (Jenny) we have ever had on walking holidays.
Reviewed by Mr Oborne on 25/09/2013
This was one of the best holidays we have had - hotel, walks, guide etc were more than excellent. Food at the Finca was worthy of accolades! A beautiful part of Spain to explore. Overall a holiday of a lifetime!
Reviewed by Dr Clements on 24/06/2013
we had a wonderful week's walking holiday in Andalucia. Our hotel finca el cerrillo was a small friendly hotel with each of the rooms with individual character and charm. The gardens were beautiful with many little seating areas both in sun and shade. Lovely pool to soothe the aching muscles after day hikes.Wonderful dinners at the hotel and local restaurants.Walks set off not too early in the morning and our very experienced guide Jenny new the walks inside out and told us local history, the names of flora and fauna and never faded in her enthusiasm.She looked after us individually in the group and tailored the walk and stops for info chats to suite everyone. The weeks holiday lived up to out expectations and more! Richard and Yvonne Clements
Reviewed by Mr Prior on 20/05/2013
As other reviewers have noticed, the Finca el Cerillo is a gem. Gordon and Sue are great hosts; the location is stunning; and nothing is too much trouble for the hosts or the staff. The hotel is superb and the mix of local restaurants and eating in gave us an excellent mix of really enjoyable food. The grounds of the hotel are lovely and the views from the various patios are exceptional. The walking guides (Jenny & Rose) were also very good with a relaxed manner and a store of local knowledge. They responded well to the varying walking levels and needs of the group. This was unquestionably one of the best Headwater holidays that we have had.
Reviewed by Mrs Ward on 18/05/2013
Owners, staff and guides at Hotel Finca el Cerrillo go the extra mile in all ways to ensure guests have a wonderful experience. The hotel is remote, but taxis are used to get Headwater guests to restaurants & to/from walks. Personally we recommend the 1-Boot option weeks, as this is hilly country and weather can be warm. Even the hotel is built on a hillside with many little oases of calm corners. Wonderful scenery & views; fantastic meals; great guides; and such great hosts.
Reviewed by Mr Grundy on 24/04/2013
This was an excellent holiday, the accomodation and hosts/guides were superb.BUT
The grading was classed as soft/leisurely which it definately was not.This is misleading.
We did the 'Vistas of Valencia' last year which was classed as moderate. This was the same level of walking.
Reviewed by Mrs Langleben on 24/04/2013
Without doubt, Finca el Cerrillo, has to be one of the best hotels we have stayed in with Headwater. Nothing was too much trouble for Sue and Gordon. They are the perfect hosts and it was more like being part of a house party than being a paying customer.
Our guide, Jenny, was good fun as well as being excelletn at her job.
Reviewed by Ms Stewart on 13/04/2013
We had a wonderful trip. One or two of the walks were at the top end of our comfort zone however and we'd probably not do another two boot with Headwater. Also, given the small amount of involvement Headwater staff had once we got to our destination, I think the cut they take is quite high (ie. our accommodation provides their own packages for a significantly lower price even taking flights into account).
Headwater response: Thank you for your comments, we are so pleased that you enjoyed your time in Andalucia, although we are sorry you feel the pricing of the holiday could be improved. On this particular holiday, the tour we offer is not the same as what the hotel offer direct to the public, therefore the prices do differ. We include tickets and transport to/from the Alhambra and we include wine with meals for example. That said, we want to keep our prices as competitive as possible as will certainly bear your comments in mind when looking at the costings for next year.
Many thanks again for taking the time to contact us with your feedback.
Reviewed by Mr Richards on 13/04/2013
The Finca was exceptional, the walking fantastic and the guide (Jenny) was professional, well informed and great fun.
Reviewed by Mis Phillips on 14/03/2013
I loved the holiday, the hotel was exceptionally good in the warm welcome, helpfulness of hosts and all staff, good food, arrangements for transport and meals out, and the character of the hotel and beautiful location. Visit to Alhambra and Granada also brilliant. Inspite of rain excellent holiday, one to remember
Reviewed by Mrs Hoghton on 24/11/2012
We were disappointed that the atmosphere in the Finca seemed to be a bit "us and them", ie between the 7 Headwater clients and the 20 or so non-Headwater guests. When we queried this we were told it was because we were having "free" wine with meals and it was too complicated to sort out billing should the two groups mingle. This unfortunately resulted in our smaller group feeling a bit ostracised from the main party, for example we were expected to sit on our own in the smaller sitting area which did not have the open fire, a feature which had sounded so attractive when we booked the Finca. The other group were clearly paying less for their holiday and adopted a rather superior attitude due to this.
Reviewed by Mr Effingham on 30/10/2012
Everything that was promised as part of the walking holiday exceeded our expectations, especially the food and warm welcome that we received at El Cerrillo!
Reviewed by Mr Hart on 12/05/2012
We were blessed with a great crowd of fellow walkers who got on very well. A great holiday with lots of great walks and much laughter.
Reviewed by Mr Plummer on 12/05/2012
We are experienced and regular travellers both in Europe and beyond.Although this was a short break it ranks with some of the very best holidays we have taken anywhere.The group we met were exceptional,we all hit the ground running and determined to get the most from the experience which in part was because of the arrangements made on our behalf and by the welcome we received as soon as we arrived at the finca.It was truly a marvelous experience. Thankyou all very much.
Reviewed by Mrs Baker on 09/05/2012
Really great holiday.
Reviewed by Mrs Turner on 05/05/2012
Really outstanding - the finca, the food, the care, the walks. Sue and Gordon take the utmost care to ensure that their guests have a perfect holiday. We cannot think of anything that could be improved upon.
Reviewed by Mr Goodare on 21/04/2012
A very relaxing time spent in lovely accommodation with great staff. The hospitality was superb; Sue and Gordon the perfect hosts.
Reviewed by Mr Pickard on 17/04/2012
no problems,well organised with excellent local guide
Reviewed by Mrs Grossman on 16/11/2011
wonderful hotel, challenging walks and great company
Reviewed by Mrs Macleod on 16/11/2011
I really enjoyed the experience and challenge which the holiday gave me. It was well organised and the guide, Jenny, was superb at her job. It was Sue's birthday on the last night of the holiday and we had a fabulous night of food and entertainment with Gordon and Sue. It was the icing on the cake of what had been a super holiday.
Reviewed by Mr Steedman on 16/11/2011
Excellant. The Finca is one of the best locations we have ever stayed at - the warmest of welcomes from Sue and Gordon Kind, extremely comfortable and relaxing, wonderful food, ever helpful hosts, and all backed up by A1 guide Jenny . We hope Finca el Cerillo is on your books for a very long time.
Reviewed by Mrs Price on 12/11/2011
Exceeded our expectations
Reviewed by Mrs Potts on 06/10/2011
This was the third time that we have stayed at the Finca, and find that it continues to improve. Jenny is a very good guide and ran the walking very professionally and with good humour.
Reviewed by Mrs Goldswain on 06/10/2011
exactly as my husband and i hoped it would be, very enjoyable.
Reviewed by Mrs O'Loughlin on 25/05/2011
Despite disappointing weather the accomodation and welcome from Gordon and Sue couldn't be faulted. The food at the hotel was top notch and good in the restaurants.
From our postbag
In addition to comments received on our post-holiday questionnaires, we've also been sent the following comments from our satisfied customers.
Ms R Peake travelled to Andalucia in 2008
I have just come back from the Secrets of Andalucia Walking Tour and would just like to let you know how much I enjoyed it. All travel arrangements/transfers etc went off without a hitch, the hotel was superb, the owners (and their dog) delightful, Andrew the guide excellent. They all went out of their way to make us feel welcome, comfortable and ..well fed!
I can assure you that the others in our small but compact group enjoyed it as much as I did.
Well done Headwater for finding a place like that, and well done to Sue, Gordon and Andrew for making our holiday so memorable.
Mr and Mrs Lighton travelled to Andalucia in 2007
We stayed at Finca el Cerrillo end of October/beginning November on a Headwater guided walking holiday. This was a perfect holiday, walking, relaxing, eating, drinking and socialising with the other guests. The weather was ideal - an excellent place for a winter break.
The Finca is an old olive mill which has been lovingly restored and developed by Sue and Gordon who greeted us with a warm welcome. The setting looking out over the Tejeda mountain range is magical. There are twelve bedrooms, tastefully decorated in blue and white and lots of really interesting knick knacks in the lounge, dining room and library. The swimming pool is unheated (so cold in November) but welcome after a hot day's walking.
Highlights of our stay were the food at the hotel and in the local villages, the walks guided by Andrew and David (Andrew has an encyclopaedic knowledge of local history), Basil the dog and the biggest cat in the world.
Mr D Marshall travelled to Andalucia in 2007
We had a very enjoyable week here in Sept 07 as part of a 'Headwater' walking holiday. Don't expect a clinical hotel, As the name suggests, this is a beautifully restored and extended farm house in mountainous terrain, run by an English couple with a friendly cat and dog. The food and service were amongst the best we have experienced anywhere.
The Finca has a large comfortable lounge/dinning room with roaring log fires in winter. During our stay, breakfast and most meals were taken out on the terrace (overlooking the valley below). There is a library and - refreshingly in this day and age - an honesty bar. The room, pool and gardens was kept clean and tidy.
Mr and Mrs Routledge travelled to Andalucia in 2005
Having recently returned from a fabulous festive week on the Secrets of Andalucia holiday, we could not wait to express our delight with every aspect of the experience. From the moment we arrived at the Finca we were made to feel welcome, plied with the most delicious food and drink, lodged in attractive, spacious and spotlessly clean rooms and made to feel that we were sharing our hosts’, Sue and Gordon, home and Christmas with them.
The food was magnificent, ranging from the welcoming lunch when we arrived from the airport, through the surprise picnic with mulled wine halfway up a mountain on Christmas Eve! The beautiful decorations made for a truly festive atmosphere as did the Christmas stocking for every guest.
Barry and Carole were attentive, well-informed walking guides who took care to ensure that the hares and tortoises both had the opportunity to go at a pace that suited them.
Many of the guests felt that Christmas spent at the Finca would be an impossible act to follow!
Departure dates & prices
Minimum group sizes
A minimum of 4 people (in total) are required for each departure.
Guided walking, single centre. Managed locally by hotelier.
Selected Saturdays/ Thursdays from 20 Dec '14 to 23 May '15, for 8 days (7 nights).