4 days and 5 nights along the GR-10 stretch that covers the region called Sierra de Francia, a protected Natural Park in the Salamanca province.
This is a particularly enchanting area, with a microclimate that allows the visitor to enjoy a unique mixture of botanical communities, fantastic fresh smells, hidden streams with crystal clear water and lovely old villages with very distinct arquitecture and traditions. Walking along the streets of these villages feels like stepping a century back in time.
The altitude differences and the situation, with a clear Atlantic influence, produce a mixture of habitats, both Mediterranean (warm and dry) and Atlantic (humid and temperate), which favours a great diversity in flora and fauna. All this is mixed with traditional agriculture, and on the terraced slopes we find cherries, olives, chestnuts and wine trees. This environment also has a rich cultural and artistic patrimony, with beautifully preserved villages, cave paintings, roman mines, monasteries, fossils…
The GR-10 cuts the Iberian Peninsula in two, from the shores of the Mediterranean to Lisbon, in Portugal, in total: 1200km. GR is short for 'Gran Recorrido' or 'long distance'. Each GR can be divided in many stretches with some geographical continuity.
The 'Sierrra de Francia' stretch is 48.5Km long. It starts at the bridge over the Alagon river, in Sotoserrano, goes steadily up until the summit of Peña de Francia is reached, and then goes down again to finish in the village of Monsagro, near Ciudad Rodrigo. The track is perfectly clear and very well maintained and signalled.
Pick up from the airport in the afternoon. Arrive in Piedrahita (2h drive) where we will spend the first night. We will give an overview of the trip, familiarise yourselves with the area, and get organised to start the walk in the morning.
We drive to the start of the walk in Sotoserrano (1hr). We visit the villages of Cepeda and Miranda del Castañar with its medieval castle. We walk through terraced slopes full of olive, wine, fig and cherry trees, and finish in one of the most charming villages of the area: Mogarraz. This day we walk 14.5 Km and climb 470m.
We leave Mogarraz following 'the Water Route' (la ruta del agua). Across forests we carry on walking up towards the village of La Alberca, the most touristy and iconic of all. Half way there we will also go past the small village of Monforte and visit the San Marcos Lake. In the evening we visit the 'Casa de Parque', the natural park museum. This day we will walk 9km and climb 300m.
From La Alberca we head northwest towards the impressive tower of “Peña de Francia”. Walking through pine forests and shrub and finally just rocks and lichens. It is the hardest walk of the whole route, with 8.7km and a 660m climb, but the views from the top are astonishing. It is a place of meditation, only inhabited by monks and wild goats. We will spend the night in the old monastery, visiting the secluded valley of the Batuecas by car in the evening.
We leave the 'Peña de Francia' Monastery and start the final leg of our route. It is long and hard, but offers some of the most scenic and dramatic landscapes. After 12Km and 900m walk downhill we arrive at the village of Monsagro. This valley was once at the bottom of the sea and the houses here are built with the fossilized remains of the trilobites that roamed the sea bed back then. We travel to Salamanca by car (1hr) to spend our last evening there and enjoy its vibrant nightlife.
In the morning we will still have a few hours to explore the streets of the town, admiring its monuments and enjoying some of its numerous bars and restaurants. We drive from Salamanca to Barajas airport in Madrid (2hr) Please book late flight (15:00h onwards) so we can get the most out of our last day.
Every village is beautifully preserved. Every corner is a delight: Stone houses, wooden balconies, flowers, fountains. Some of them un-missable: Miranda del Castañar and its medieval castle.
Mogarraz and its streets, The main square in La Alberca, The fossils in Monsagro. Own folklore and gastronomy, traditional costumes, dances, unique crafts. Peña de Francia: Incredible panoramic view of a large part of the province. Wild goats.
The Monastery Lanscape: The variety, the wilderness, the smells, the ancient forests, the terraces full of fruit trees, the water. “La Ruta del agua” and its sculptures blending in with nature.
“Las Batuecas” valley, its monastery and cave paintings. “La casa del parque”, The Natural Park museum The churches, hermitages and monasteries Salamanca: The Cathedral, Main square, Roman Bridge, University, the Shell House.
We will have our vehicle with a dedicated driver following our route by road and waiting for us at several points. It will carry our luggage and will be in contact with us by radio and mobile telephone in case we should need it.
We will spend the nights at several hotels along the route: All the rooms are double/twin and include breakfast. Individual rooms are available for an extra charge.
€620 / person sharing a twin/double room. €760 for a single room.
Contact Puri to find out which weeks are still available.
Castilla y León; Salamanca province; Parque Natural de la Batuecas y Sierra de Francia
Sotoserrano, Cepeda, Miranda del Castañar, Mogarraz, Monforte de la Sierra, La Alberca, Monsagro.
Sandy, rocky and grassy tracks.
Centro Geografico del Ejercito: 1:50.000 Serie L. Hojas 11-21, 12-21and 12-22 (Serradilla del Arroyo, Tamames and Miranda del Castañar).