With its year-round warmer climate and relatively low cost of living, Andalusia is a magnet for sun-seekers desperate for brilliant blue skies and sunshine during the UK’s colder months. Heidi Fuller-Love sets off for the Costa de la Luz to explore charming towns in both Spain and Morocco.
Doñana National Park
Exploring Conil de la Frontera
Moroccan excursion to Tangier
Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art
Discovering Jerez and sherry producers
Staying at Tarifa and visiting Medina- Sidonia.
Coastal and forest surroundings at Camping Roche
Observing wildlife in Doñana National Park
Beginning of the tour
Doñana, a Unesco World Heritage Site, is a vast area of marshes and sand dunes meeting where the Guadalquivir River flows into the Atlantic. Migratory birds seek winter warmth here and the park is also home to the critically-endangered Iberian lynx and to a herd of indigenous, rare Retuerta horses.
There is even a small herd of dromedaries, some of which were released here during the filming of Lawrence of Arabia in 1962.
Ideally located at Roche Caravan Site
Nearby beautiful beaches and towns
After an hour’s drive from Doñana (via Sanlúcar, a departure port for both Christopher Columbus and Ferdinand Magellan) you will arrive at Roche Caravan Site. Surrounded by pine forests and close to the glorious beaches of the Costa de la Luz (Coast of Light), this site is a superb base for exploring the region. Plus there’s an on-site restaurant and other fine facilities.
Nearby, Conil de la Frontera is a pretty port with a central labyrinth of whitewashed houses. The tiny municipal museum details the town’s fishing heritage and history of the 16th century Castilnovo Tower. Follow your visit with a cool beer and lunch at Freiduría Zapola, a tiny street café famed for its lightly battered seafood.
Exploring Jerez and sherry tasting
Cobbled streets, Baroque churches and flamenco music
Head along a costal road to the charming, sherry-producing town, Jerez. From here you can take a tour of Tio Pepe bodega where you’ll learn all about the production and storage of sherry in barrels. Finish the tour with sherry tasting and tapas.
Visit Jerez’s Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art, where you’ll see prancing purebred Spanish horses; according to the school’s little museum, even Greek philosopher Aristotle was impressed by them back in the 4th century BC, on a visit to the region.
In the evenings, La Carboná is a busy bodega-style gourmet restaurant where chef Javier Muñoz cooks with the local sherry. Clap along to flamenco in the cramped-but-lively Tabanco el Pasaje bar close by.
Driving back in time to Gibraltar
British culture with blue skies
As a British overseas territory, you will see red telephone boxes and old-fashioned pubs on your arrival to Gibraltar. This makes it feel like Britain thirty years ago.
Once you have seen the Rock of Gibraltar, park at Grand Parade and take a cable car to see the Barbary macaques, where the bluish mountains of Morocco loom in the distance.
Heading downhill again, pay a visit to Alameda (Gibraltar Botanic Gardens). It’s also worth exploring the Great Siege Tunnels, a spooky, 30-mile labyrinth of passageways that are said to be haunted.
End your day with some souvnir shopping on Main Street and you can enjoy very British fish and chips at the Lord Nelson pub.
A picturesque stay at Valdevaqueros site
Close to Tarifa on Andalusia’s southernmost tip, you’ll find Valdevaqueros, a pretty, rural site with a good-sized pool and a cosy little restaurant, surrounded by the white villages for which Andalusia is renowned.
From here, you can easily spend a few days watching windsurfers and soaking up the sun on Tarifa’s seemingly endless beaches. You can also drive through the winding mountain roads to the Alcornocales Natural Park, to the medieval city of Medina- Sidonia.
A two-night stay in Tangiers
From the Valdevaqueros site, you can head to Morocco itself to spend a couple of days near Tangier. The campsite does offer coach excursions or you can take a ferry.The crossing from Tarifa takes an hour.
Throughout your stay in Tangiers, you may come across many touts and carpet sellers; it’s best to firmly say ‘no’ in order to be left alone.
Enjoy visiting Les Grottes d’Hercule caves, sip tea at open-air Café Hafa and shop in the narrow streets around the Kasbah. Try the local speciality bourtaka muhallabieh (orange-caramel custard) at the iconic Gran Café de Paris.
About the author
Travel and food writer/photographer Heidi Fuller-Love tours for four or five months of the year in her motorcaravan and contributes features, and photos to 68+ publications around the globe - including the Caravan and Motorhome Club magazine.
She also produces and presents her award-winning Meet The Locals travel podcast for British Airways in flight radio, and she contributes to the BBC's iconic From Our Own Correspondent.
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