OverviewThe Bola del Mundo (also known as Alto de las Guarramillas in some maps) is placed at the Sierra de Guadarrama, between the spanish provinces of Madrid and Segovia. It’s one of the main peaks in the Sierra, offering good sights of both provinces. It’s one of the high summits of the Sierra, with its summit over 2200 meters high, but it's not a really interesting climb in itself as a cement road reaches the summit from the nearby Puerto de Navacerrada (in order to offer service to the TV/radio facilities placed at the top of the mountain). It is considered best as the first target of climbers or hikers starting the traverse of the Cuerda Larga(a ridge starting at the Puerto de Navacerrada and including summits such as Bola del Mundo, Cerro de Valdemartín, Cabeza de Hierro Mayor, Cabeza de Hierro Menor and Najarra)
The main trailhead for the Bola del Mundo is the Puerto de Navacerrada, easily reached from Madrid and Segovia.
By car:Puerto de Navacerrada is 64 km away from Madrid, driving northwest, and Navacerrada village is 7 km before the mountain pass on the very same road. The best driving option is to take the A6 motorway for 43 km, up to exit 39 (signposted as “Villalba/Puerto de Navacerrada”). Leave the motorway and take road M-601 (grossly northwards) to Navacerrada (about 13 km to go) and Puerto de Navacerrada (20 km).
Another option would be the M-607 highway to Colmenar Viejo, continuing afterwards to Cerceda and Navacerrada to enter there road M-601 to Puerto de Navacerrada. This second option offers a better landscape and might be helpful in case of heavy traffic congestion in the A6. If you are coming from the north, drive to Segovia and take road CL-601 towards La Granja and Puerto de Navacerrada. If you choose to start from the village of Navacerrada, leave your car at the parking area of La Barranca (1365 m).
The latest news from the area state that the parking lot of the Puerto de Navacerrada will no longer be free from this winter on. The company that runs the ski resort is planning to charge 9 euros/day for a car in high season (I guess that means "skiing season") and 7 euros/day in low season
By train:The puerto de Navacerrada is also reached by an old mountain train departing from Cercedilla. If you choose this option, you would have to take a train to Cercedilla (line C-8b) at Atocha Railway Station (Madrid) and connect to the trains to Puerto de Navacerrada.
Buses to Cercedilla can be caught (lines 684 and 684A) at the Moncloa underground station (Madrid), allowing for connections with the Puerto de Navacerrada as they stop by the railway station when they reach Cercedilla. There are also buses to Puerto de Navacerrada (line 691) leaving from Moncloa.
By plane:The closest major airport is placed at Madrid-Barajas.
Segovia is also a feasible base for your stays in (or around) the Sierra de Madrid. You can reach the Puerto de Navacerrada from Segovia via road CL-601 (towards La Granja and Navacerrada). The summit TV facilities can be clearly seen from Segovia in clear days.
Red TapeThe Bola del Mundo stands close to a Regional Natural Park (Parque Regional de la Cuenca Alta del Manzanares), but (as stated before) the TV facilities at the summit are reached by a cement road and there is a ski resort at the nearby Puerto de Navacerrada. Therefore, the normal protecting regulations are not fully applicable but (as usual) please be sensible and do not leave any traces of your visit. For instance, camping is strictly forbidden. I’ve heard about a possible declaration of the whole sierra de Guadarrama as a National Park, but nowadays (August 2010) I don’t have any kind of confirmation about that. Nevertheless, I will post any additional information on the subject whenever I get it.
About equipment, the normal route from Puerto de Navacerrada is not difficult. Good boots, hiking poles, water and some food should suffice for a summer walk on that one. Whenever the weather prediction is not good, it will be better to err on the safe side: take warm clothes, as good an equipment as you can get. Winter climbs are always a serious concern and should NOT be attempted by unexperienced hikers. There have been cases of people being rescued in Bola del Mundo, after suffering extreme weather conditions
CampingCamping is officially forbidden in the whole province of Madrid. Not that it’s really necessary, though, as the Alto de las Guarramillas is easily climbed in a single day.
There’s availability of lodging both at the Puerto de Navacerrada, at the Puerto de Cotos (a little bit apart from the Bola del Mundo, on the southern slopes of Peñalara) and at Navacerrada itself. Check the external links section for a couple of ideas on this particular subject.
CyclingThe climb to the Navacerrada is a classical one in the Vuelta a España. Many historical moments of the race have been lived in its slopes, never mind wether on the way up or down. For instance, the first global victory of Pedro Delgado in the Vuelta (back in 1985) was built in this mountain pass...
But the most recent news about the area are that the cement road between Navacerrada and the summit of Bola del Mundo was used by the Vuelta a España as the end of a decisive stage in this year's (2010) Vuelta. It was a foggy day. and the first rider to cross the end line placed at the summit was Ezequiel Mosquera. The race leader Vincenzo Nibali was following him closely, but the beauty of the climb was afterwards obscured by doping issues... :(
External LinksParque Regional de la Cuenca Alta del Manzanares
(spanish language info on the bus connections to Navacerrada)
Mountain Hostel-Hut "Puerto de Navacerrada"
(spanish language info and contact data)
Albergue de Cotos(Puerto de Cotos)
(short spanish info and contact phone)
Weather predictions for the area of Guadarrama and Somosierra (spanish language)- Contributed by Diego Sahagún