Olives and Kid-Friendly Hiking in Zahara de la Frontera
Fall means harvest, and in southern Spain, that includes shaking lots of olives off the trees. I had been deliberately waiting to make the drive to Zahara de la Frontera until we could experience some of this harvest. Let me say, it was worth the wait.
Zahara is an easy 1 – 1.5 hour drive from Rota. You know you are nearing your destination as the terrain becomes hilly and green, and then you see the white village appear on the hillside, watched over by a castle tower. It truly is just a magnificent sight, made even better by the reservoir that lies underneath.
Our first stop was at Oleum Viride, just outside of town. Here at this small olive oil mill, we learned the secrets of the harvest and production of olive oil, and ate a delicious breakfast. On our tour, we started first with food. This included olive oil so rich it was almost green. Fresh squeezed orange juice and warm chocolates and café con leches. There were individual breads just out of the oven and delicious peach preserves. And a view to top it all off of the castle and white village just over on the next hill.
While eating, the tour guide’s little girl came over and asked if our kids wanted to see something. She then led them down a small path and showed them fresh olives still on the branches of a small tree. They then played tag and hide and seek, and it was just perfect.
The actual tour that followed breakfast was just the right length for our small crowd, probably lasting about 20-30 minutes. We were able to watch farmers come and unload their olives into the press, and witness as the leaves and branches were separated from the olives, eventually going to feed farm animals. The kids felt ground up olive pits, which would be turned into pellets for burning. And then we watched the oil itself as it was pressed and poured. All of this must be done within 24 hours of harvest, so at times like this, it sounds as if it is a steady, round-the-clock operation making the stuff that Spain is famous for. It was a well-done tour, and we happily purchased oil, as well as organic wine, to take home.
Afterwards, we headed to the town of Zahara, parking our car in the free lot by the Hotel Arco de la Villa. We then begin the walk to the castle tower. From afar, when you look at the hill side, you might be fooled to think the castle extends the full way down, however, that is rock and a collection of Roman ruins, leading up to a singular tower. There are many paths up the side, each taking you past gorgeous views of hills and the reservoir. We (I should say all but I) climbed the tower for one last view before making our way down.
We took a short stroll through the town itself, stopping in the two main churches. Finally, we couldn’t help but stop for Kinder cake and coconut pie, because honestly, I was curious what a Spanish coconut pie would taste like. And it was delicious.
Zahara is a small town, beautifully situated. We had the perfect length foodie tour, and the perfect length hike, to keep everyone charging ahead and thoroughly pleased. It was the perfect day trip from Rota, and one that I believe we’ll all remember fondly forever. And, we still made it home in time for a family movie. Because despite all of their travels and adventurous spirits, our children still thrive on routine and their souls still need a little rest and cuddles on the couch. What a wonderful gift to be able to give them both in one day.