Happy hikers!

One of the best things about travel is the serendipitous moments you don’t plan for or expect: making new friends,  jumping on a surprise opportunity, stumbling onto a unique cultural happening. Although we love to hike, hiking in Spain was not something we had really considered when we made our plans for our month-long visit there in February. And then we met Richard Price and his lovely wife Maria, who moved to Valencia less than a year ago. In the small world department, Richard is the brother of my friend and former co-worker, Susan Bachmore (she connected us when she found out we were headed to Valencia).

Since we were staying with our friends David and Cindy Thomas, they also got to meet Richard and Maria. While we were traveling down south, Richard contacted David and invited us all to join him in a group hike when we returned to Valencia before heading home to Colombia.

The group! From left, Maria, Susan, Richard, David, John, and Cindy

Which is how we found ourselves on a 20-km hike (!) with the Valencia Mountain Enthusiast Club to a beautiful area called Los Órganos de Benitandús.

After meeting in the parking lot of the Mestalla football stadium in Valencia, we drove for an hour to the picturesque little village of Alcudia de Veo. From there, we started our hike in the Sierra Espadán natural park – climbing over 2,000 feet to the Órganos de Benitandús – imposing rock formations that must have reminded someone of a church pipe organ. The views from that height were breathtaking.

We hope this will be the first of many “Hiking in Spain” posts. There’s so much to see on foot in this spectacular country!

The centuries-old church where we started our hike in the little hamlet of Alcudia de Veo.
Heading up, up, up!
At a crossroads. Glad we had a guide!
The nosebleed view of Alcudia de Veo. We climbed all the way up here, and then higher!
Looking down at Alcudia de Veo’s ancient Moorish castle. It seems like every little town in these parts has one.
Views reminiscent of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the states
These pipe-organ-shaped rock formations give Los Órganos de Benitandús its name.
Reaching the lunch stop on the tip of Los Órganos
Looking down at the Benitandús reservoir from on high
Heading down at last
We passed through the tiny village of Benitandús, population 20, and its ancient church. The church was built after the expulsion of the Moors in 1609.
The group takes a breather towards the end of the hike.
Coming full circle, back to the pretty town of Alcudia de Veo

Have you gone hiking in Spain? Hit us with tips!

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  1. Looks amazing and I’m sure you had such fun evenings as well. Sadly I’m not a hiker, no stamina. I would like to see more of Spain though.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks for reading! There’s so much to see and do in Spain even for non-hikers. Hope you can travel there someday!

      • We have been to Seville and driven along the Northern coastline but as you say there is so much more to see 🙂

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Gracias, mi tío querido!

  2. Janis Peace Reply

    Very nice! Beautiful! Great photos! Thank you for taking the time to put this together for us!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks, Janis! Big hugs from both of us.

  3. What a gorgeous hike. Glad for the serendipity in your connections. Interesting that it took 100 years for a church to be built after the Muslim occupation ended in 1492. Looks like the weather was really good!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks, Rebecca! Yes, I was wondering about those dates as well. From what we understand, there were still active Muslim communities all over Spain even after the Christians took over. I think the “purging” process went on for quite a while after that. Ugh, so much ugly conflict over religion. We even heard a story in Alicante about the Muslims seeking to live in peace with the Christians after they arrived, but they weren’t having it. Many of the Christian churches were built on top of ruined mosques. We heard a similar story in Peru, where many Christian churches were built over former Inca temples. I just don’t understand why everyone can’t live in peace. Sorry to go all John Lennon on you!

      • That’s perfectly all right, I feel the same way. So interesting to hear the detailed history where it wasn’t cut and dried, everybody of a different religion out in 1492! All the complex weavings of societies and intermarriage that happened. Thanks.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks! It was tough, but so worth it!

  4. Looks like a wonderful hike! We love hiking in Spain – spent some time hiking from Laxe (far opposite side of Spain from Valencia) to Fisterra and just loved the rugged coast and beautiful villages. We were just looking at pictures yesterday from this trip and wanting to go back, so reading your post and looking at your pictures was perfect timing.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks, Lisa! Those are some good suggestions for when we visit that part of Spain. Hope you can make it back there soon!

  5. Jere McCormick Reply

    Remi and i did a 12 day trek on the Camino de Santiago some years back. it was a fantastic trek hiking through small hamlets, villages and cities. A beautiful experience which, I will never ever forget. I enjoyed your pics.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks, Jere – the Camino is really high on our bucket list. We decided to wait until we’re based in Spain to do it. But we can’t wait! Did you see the movie The Way? Pretty interesting story based on the Camino.

  6. Beautiful mountain views and the ruins of a castle, what more could you ask for, looks like a great hike. Maggie

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you, Carol! It was great to get out and get a dose of nature.

  7. Oh wow this looks like an absolutely amazing adventure – and like you say even better for being spontaneous and a lovely surprise. The views are incredible 🙂

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks, Hannah! It was such a treat to get out and have a dose of nature after almost three weeks of sight-seeing.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      It was stunning, and so unexpected! Just whetted our appetites for more hiking in Spain.

  8. This hike in Spain looks incredible! The mountains are lovely (I agree, they look like the Blue Ridge Mountains) and the Benitandús reservoir reminds me of Hong Kong’s reservoirs. The water color is lovely.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks, Becky! We were so surprised that such mountain vistas existed so close to Valencia. We can’t wait to see more!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      It was fab 🙂 Just made us want to do more hiking there.

  9. It is very nice to meet some friends along the way! What a great hike, the views from the top look amazing!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks, Christie – it was a great experience!

  10. What a fabulous hike. It looks like you had a fine time. We often look for hiking opportunities – but not 20km! Impressive!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Ha, we were told it was 12km! It turned out to be a lot longer with a significant elevation increase. But we were proud that we stuck it out, old farts that we are! It was so worth it. Thanks, Alison!

  11. It’s always interesting when such serendipitous moment happens, and it usually leads to even more interesting things, like this hike for you. I love it when cities have hiking paths not too far from the downtown area, and I still consider one hour of driving near. Look forward to reading more of your hiking trips from Spain!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      I’m sure we have lots more Spanish hiking adventures in store! It’s great to know you don’t have to go to far out of the cities to get a dose of nature. Thanks, Bama!

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