Visitors to the Granada or Malaga provinces of Andalucia in Spain looking for an interesting day trip should head to the Sierras of Tejeda, Almijara and Alhama Natural Park. Not only is the walking in this area is fantastic, but you also get the chance to explore the nearby wonderful Spanish White villages, ‘pueblo blancos’ such as Competa, Frigiliana, Torrox and Nerja. If you are in the area, there is one little hamlet in particular that I always look forward to returning to, a place which is both picturesque and succeeds in capturing your imagination, ‘The lost village of El Achebuchal’.
In 1948 some two hundred villagers were ordered to leave El Achebuchal. Authorities suspected the villagers of supporting rebels hiding in the mountains, by providing them with food and shelter. Effectively the villagers were victims, caught between a rock and a hard place; hassled by both the authorites and the rebels during the remenants of the civil war. Once vacated, the village became empty, derelict and was lost in time.
Fifty years later one man returned to re-build the village where his parents once lived. You may still see Antonio around the village on his dirt bike. His family restaurant, the tavern in the village, is an authentic Spanish tavern, serving seasonally available specialities of delicious plates of game in rustic sauces. I remember having wild boar in sauce flavoured with orange and just recently returned and had the smaller sharing plates (Media racion) of Boar, Goat, Lamb and Venison all in different sauces with a fantastic homemade loaf of bread, so soft, fresh and still warm. After so many little baskets of thickly sliced white bread or packets of bread sticks elsewhere, this bread was simply delicious and a real treat. Inside the restaurant there is an interesting collection of black and white photos providing a fascinating insight into campo life, and a life when El Achebuchal was a bustling hamlet.
The village is surrounded by some excellent walking trails. We followed a section of the Puerta Verde, a walk from Torrox to Frigiliana, following a dry river-bed and back, the trail is located close to the shrine at the entrance to the village. After our walk and meal, we wandered through the pedestrianised main street of the village to further explore. The higgldy piggldy narrow lanes of whitewashed homes have been beautifully restored and rebuilt. Whereas the majority of houses are now holiday-lets there are still a number of dedicated residents, twenty at the last count. However, certainly don’t come here to expect to go to an ATM or to buy souvenirs, there are a small collection of houses, two restaurants and the tiniest chapel.
Has El Achebuchal been found?…. There are now many more walking parties visiting the village and it’s incredible that electricity and water were only installed in 2003, but with most tourists heading for the coast, El Acebuchal remains a fantastic day trip, especially as part of a hike, or just the sample the delicious rustic food at the tavern.