With the listed entry of these mountains in the Network of Protected Natural Spaces of Andalusia (RENPA), an old debt has been resolved with these mountain ranges, they were inexplicably forgotten a long time ago, even though their natural, historical and artistic interest outweigh other mountains that were found and listed in many other areas.
Both the ranges of Tejeda and Almijara constitute an impressive, solid, mountainous and geographical barrier between the provinces of Malaga and Granada, separated by their summits.
The first is the backbone of the region known as "Axarquia" (the East for Arabs), an irreducible bastion of Moorish culture. The second, joined as a backdrop with the fertile lands of the Alhama, and West of Granada with contrasting soft earth used to grow olives and cereals.
With an area of 40,663 hectares, this National Park covers much of the mountain range that runs from the river in Puente de Piedra, Alcaucin (Málaga), up to the road called carretera de cabra in Otívar (Granada).
This includes a continuous alignment of rocky escarpments which constitute the highest, most prominent part of southern geography reaching the Portuguese coast. With its 2,068 m. in altitude, the peak of the Maroma is unrivalled, being the dominant westward vantage point with spectacular views to the two shores of the Mediterranean.
Tejeda's name derives from the large number of yew trees that once populated the mountains. Mainly derived from the Arabic name Almijara "Almijar" meaning "draining", possibly due to how quickly rainwater drained from these streams down to the sea and also by deformation of "Sierra de los almijares" in reference to the abundance of these structures (now called paseros) when rural homes were used for drying figs and grapes.
At first glance, the mountains bear many similarities to those larger sized mountainous ranges in the North, especially in “Los Picos de Europa”, which are almost symmetrical within the whole of the Iberian Peninsula. Their proximity to the sea along with their similar dimensions, sharp ridges and deep ravines are responsible for such an analog. Similarly, white limestone rock and even the occasional untamed white water rapid plunge in a seemingly hasty rush to reach the complete stillness of the plains of Granada or the Mediterranean coast making the landscape extraordinarily beautiful.
Mountains have always been full of stories and legends about rebellions, smuggling, poaching and resistance, stories and legends that were circulated mainly by word of mouth affecting ports located on both sides.
At times it was tough, where life was barely a survival owing to the vineyards that were ravaged by the phylloxera parasite, heavy rains that eroded the fertile soils where olives and almonds grew, thus causing little income owing to the small amount that crops generated.
The wild grass on its rocky slopes, the resin from the upright pine, wood, charcoal and firewood from trees and bushes, the snow on the peaks in more favourable years and the hunting of its livestock all contributed to the livelihood of its people.
Its marginal nature has favoured the conservation of its landscape, its traditional architecture and its natural values. If the main value of the Natural Park is in its rocks and ravines, their villages also contain fantastic heritage with Moorish and Mudejar aromas, with glittering facades and arches, brick steps and Moorish towers and with the evening aroma of orange blossom and jasmine. However, with regard to this we have to emphasize the municipalities of Alhama de Granada, Salares and Frigiliana.
Among the natural values, almost everything is remarkable. Its physical appearance is of stone which is composed of many different materials. Some sites contain quartzite, schist and gneiss dating back 500 million years.
However, those that excel are the ones from the middle of the Triassic era, originating from the 300 million year old seabed. Dolomitic marble is the most representative of this lithology, forming, along with Granada and Almeria the principal massif of the constitution of our country. This type of rock is responsible for several singularities. The most direct, the original landscape, dominated by white and gray tones of rock with particular sandy disintegration (kakiritizacion) causing erosion. The geomorphology is impressive, dominated by steep slopes, sharp ridges and deep ravines. Another consequence of this geological component resides in the ground vegetation. Dolomitic sands are permeable and retain rain water sparingly. This, together with certain mineral components like magnesium, will generate a fertile landscape where rare and endemic species will thrive in abundance. As unique geological features we have to highlight the caves of Nerja, declared a national monument, or the lesser known Sima de la Maroma or Cave of Fajara in Canillas de Aceituno.
ts flora is another relevant value, probably the most apparent. Together with critical role of lithology that already generates apparent contrasts, and a wide range of climate variations governed by the abrupt altitude also have an influence (0-2000 m), sea proximity and orientation toward the solid rock SE-NW.
This combination of factors creates a great diversity shown in plant life with unique formations, characteristic of the Mediterranean and on occasions conflicting requirements.
Pine trees are abundant and dominate the area, many seated on the white sands that were generated by the decomposition of marble. Hence the possibility of the development of the Aleppo or Scots pine, each with different requirements, even the Corsican or illustrious Salgareno all coming from the experimental stocking from years gone by. Also, between trees and bushes the range is from the palm (Chamaerops humilis),the brier (Maytenus senegalensis), the bayon (Osyris quadripartite) revientacabras (Cneorum tricoccum) or Boxwood (buxus balerarica) characteristic of their coastal proximity, then there’s the whitebeam (Sorbus aria), durum (Amelanchier ovalis), sweet durillo (Cotoneaster grantensis), ash (Adenocarpus decorticans), Turkish oak, Quercus pyrenaica), or Aza (Acer granatense), all these inhabit the shady and high peaks along with scrub chamaephytes dominated by thorn broom chamaephytes and rascaviejas, Vella spinosa, Prunus prostrate, Erinacea anthyllis, Astragalus granatensis, Echinospartum boissieri, Genista spinosa and Hormatophylla lobelii.
A small woodland of yew trees still exists, a singular relic that once would have populated the mountains, hence its name and whose main value lies in it being the southernmost of the Iberian Peninsula and one of the best of Andalusia. There are other notable formations too like sabina mora (Juniperus phoenicea) and ephedra (Ephedra fragilis.
Nor can we forget the broad range of herbaceous plants, characteristic of those in the sandy and rocky dolomitics, mostly endemic. These include Linaria amoi, Centaurea bombycina, Centaurea prolongi, Erysimum myriophyllum, Anthyllis tejedensis, Hippocrepis eriocarpa, Hispidus alpinus, Silene boryi, Pinguicola submediterranean, Hieracium texedense, Aquilegia vulgaris, erioblasta Saxifraga, Draba hispanica, Andryala agardhii, Odontites longiflora, Polygala boissieri and Iberis grossi.
En relación con la fauna, su principal importancia radica en la extensión longitudinal del macizo, poniendo en conexión las sierras malagueñas con la vecina Sierra Nevada y actuando como pieza importante en la dorsal que forman las montañas béticas y que ponen en conexión el campo de Gibraltar con el Levante peninsular. Un claro ejemplo de este efecto corredor, ha sido la reciente colonización del territorio por parte de la ardilla común, estableciéndose en menos de tres años de uno a otro extremo en estas sierras.
In relation to fauna, its main importance lies in the longitudinal extent of the massif, connecting the ridges of the Malaga mountains with those of the neighbouring Sierra Nevada and acting as an important element the forming the dorsal of the Betic Mountains which connect Gibraltar to the peninsula. A clear example of the corridor effect has been the recent colonization of the common squirrel, settling from one extreme end of these mountains to another in less than three years.
In this small world of trees and rocks we have to emphasize its avifauna. There is a noticeable presence of large eagles , peregrine falcon and hawk, nightjar, forest and mountain birds along with the alpine sparrow.
In the specific case of the Tejeda-Almijara mountain ranges, regulating the hunting of this species under the watchful eye of the National Hunting Reserve has allowed the meagre existing population to increase tenfold within a period of 25 years, with approximately 1,500 animals on the Malaga side of the massif. The same style of management has managed to maintain the area free of the mange epidemic that has endangered the species in other towns in the area. For this reason, the Tejeda and Almijara ranges remain as one of the most important places in Spain for this iconic species of our mountains.
Close to this area yet belonging to the same domain, with their feet bathing in the sea lye the Natural Cliffs of Maro-Cerro Gordo, situated in the towns of Nerja and Almunecar (Malaga and Granada) with wonderful climates that boast amazing natural light.