Gill Rakes from the UK wrote on 31 March 2016
Having had our fill of city breaks and beaches, and the daily pressures of work, my husband and I wanted a truly different holiday this year. Amazingly, I found Refugio Bonales on the web. Not knowing what to expect, but desperate for peace and beauty, we arrived to find a wonderful adventure. This place is unique and so special. It’s a bit of a cross between an upmarket hostel and staying with friends. The walks were amazing, the night sky unbelievable, and the birdsong is still with me back in smoky London. We were treated to fantastic home cooked organic food. Not for the faint hearted, but for a truly alternative, peaceful break from the day job, I would say Refugio Bonales is an inspiration.
Maura E. Thornton from the USA wrote on 26 July 2013
Exploring the Sierra de Aracena Natural Park would have been impossible without the efforts of Javier, our guide and host. Rigorous treks through the mountainous terrain, lunch by a natural reservoir of clear water, swimming in a quiet pool that overlooked the orchards planted for miles across the sunny mountainsides, these experiences were orchestrated in a relaxing and unhurried manner by Javier to provide a weekend of steeped in the beauty of the Sierra and the culture of its inhabitants.
I spent an absolutely beautiful weekend at the Rufugio Bonales guided on hikes through Sierra de Aracena. The stunning “dehesa” countryside, a smooth mix of trees and pasture land that recalls the Texas Hillcountry, offered reservoirs of clear water and a variety of wild and domesticated animals. When we happened upon locals, either in town by the public fountain or out on the trails that sometimes snake around their paddocks and orchards, they were welcoming and helpful, happy to speak of their trade, demonstrate the intricate systems for water transport that connect their fields to the fountain plaza or to suggest new routes and destinations for our group of four hikers and a guide.
Our guide, Javier, spoke fluent English and was knowledgeable about the flora and fauna of the dehesa as well as about the unique culture of the tiny mountain towns. The hikes gradually increased in intensity from the first to the second day, culminating in an ascent to the Monasterio Tentudía, a former monastery constructed in the 13th century in Extremadura that looks out over an expansive view of the Sierra de Aracena.
Staying at the Refugio was a delightful experience; the restoration maintained all of the character of the site while enabling luxuries like a large projector screen for viewing films on cold nights. The little porch and front yard were ideal for sneaking out to admire the large, summer solstice full moon that illuminated the whole of the secluded valley.
Roberto Harms from the USA wrote on June 25, 2013
I had two options for a weekend trip: Lagos, Portugal for beaches and partying, or hiking through the Spanish countryside with a local, knowledgeable guide who knew everything from what type of nuts each tree produces to the traditions of a hidden Spanish pueblo. I chose the latter, and it was one of the better decisions I made this summer.
On our two-day visit, we — myself, Javier, the expert Spanish guide who also knows English, and three friends — visited Umbria, a small town with friendly people in Sierra de Aracena; swam in a natural outdoor pool that overlooked the mountains for a breathtaking view; slept in a mountain refuge complete with a fireplace, water and a theater-style movie experience; hiked to an ancient monastery; and serendipitously met local farmers who showed us how to milk goats. We did all of this while being guided by Javier, who told us about trees and pigs and Spanish culture. Without him, and without the stay in the refuge, the trip wouldn’t have been nearly as rewarding. It was a full cultural immersion.
I would recommend booking a trip with Javier’s company to anyone who loves the outdoors and hiking, and anyone who would like to really learn about Spain. Sangria and tapas are great, but true Spanish culture is hidden away in the mountainous countryside. Javier helped us find it.
Marianne from Denmark wrote at July 12, 2011
Hola Javier, que refugio bonito. Disfrutaba mucho estar y tuvimos un dia con camara og pajaros excelente. Espero que no sea la ultima visita. Muchas gracias, un abrazo,
Marianne GUILLERM from France/Murcia wrote at January 14, 2011
Nous avons passé 4 jours au refuge en famille avec Javier, en plein mois de décembre, alors que les conditions météorologiques sévères rendaient notre expédition pour le moins aventureuse. We spent a very good time indeed, aprovechando de todo el entorno natural. Nuestros 5 hijos (hi hi hi) lo pasaron de maravilla, tanto dentro con la chiminea, cortando leña, o en las afueras observando flores, arboles o esos cerdos negros que vemos por todo lado en esta sierra. Ce fut 4 jours de découverte, de détente mais surtout de dépaysement, très loin de notre quotidien. Merci à Javier et longue vie à ce beau projet : see you soon on spring season !
Jef & Ludivine & Alex & Pieriv & Anaïs & Sacha & Joris Pablo and his family from Madrid wrote at December 21, 2010
Hola Javi y Sandra Me encantó el fin de semana que estuvimos con vosotros en el refugio. De lo que más nos acordamos es de haber llegado andando desde el pueblo, de haber preparado las comidas en la chimenea con la sartén y el trebede y de despertarnos en plena naturaleza. Seguro que nos volvemos a ver pronto. Un abrazo y seguid con el proyecto que es muy especial!!
Pablo & family José Ignacio from Spain wrote at November 21, 2010
Congratulations, Javier!!! It is a great project in a very nice area close to Sierra de Tentudia, a truly paradise. Conozco la zona de haber estado varias veces caminando y también en bici. Es una de mis preferidas de toda Andalucia y parte de Extremadura. Me ha gustado mucho lo que habéis conseguido hacer y la página web, ¡enhorabuena! A ver si me puedo pasar un día por allí. Saludos
José Ignacio Emma from USA wrote at October 13, 2010
In my short trip to Javier´s mountain refuge, I encountered so many parts of a peaceful, sustainable Iberian culture that I had never experienced before. From the picturesque pueblo below the hike to the expansive blue sky, everything that I saw and heard contributed to a truly breathtaking and beautiful experience. The never ending green rolling hills are sustained by rich red earth roamed by animals both wild and domesticated. The refuge itself is a work of art, and brings a sense of peace and belonging. I am so glad to have been able to have this unique experience.
Deborah and jon from UK wrote at October 13, 2010
Our holiday at Javier's mountain refuge was truly memorable, far away from work, close to the Iberian way of life and nature of the Sierra Morena range bordering northern Andalucia and Extremadura. We were warmly welcomed into Javier's refuge, provided wholesome food grown in his "huerta", ate in front of open fires and lived simply and comfortably in rooms where the beds were handmade by his friend, Richard. Walks from the refuge gave us an insight into the lives of local farmers and the sustainable use of resources found in this beautiful, green, part of Southern Spain. We couldn't have wished for a better way of getting away from the pressures of urban life. Thanks, Javier, Alvores and Richard for looking after us so well and showing this to us, we hope to get back there for more,
Richard from Lanjarón, España wrote at July 14, 2010
Like the new site Javier. Looks good!