4 Out-of-the-Ordinary Things To Do in Andalucia
If you like to go a little off the beaten track, discover new places and have fun in a way that that you will surely remember, here are four activities to get you started.
These are all available in the Andalucian hills and mountains just inland from Málaga. Although you'll be just a short distance from the hedonistic pleasures of the Costa del Sol, this is a world apart where life moves at a more leisurely pace. The roads are quieter (and narrower), there are eagles overhead (sometimes) and the bars and restaurants are truly, authentically Spanish.
Visit the Bat Cave (no, not "that" one!)
The Cueva de Los Murciélagos (Bat Cave) is the best gym in the region according to Antonio. He is a guide who brings more than 25 years experience of treading the more than 700 steps that make up this cave located in the town of Villajoyosa. Exactly the same number that you will have to go up and down on your visit.
The origin of the name is obvious, and once upon a time the cave was filled with bats. These days the numbers are somewhat less but you may be lucky enough to see them roosting.
Another of the notable features is that this cave is famous throughout Europe for being one of the most important Neolithic sites in Andalucia and contains the best examples of Upper Paleolithic cave art. For this reason, The Cueva de Los Murciélagos has been declared a Site of Special Cultural Interest.
Right nearby the Cave is the Ecomuseum where you will be able to learn more about the mysteries of the cave, its fauna and the archaeological discoveries made there.
Go White Water Rafting on the Rio Genil
Scary? No. It doesn't matter if you're a little nervous, if you don't feel good in the water, if sport is not your strong point… with the guides at Alua all these little insecurities will disappear as soon as you join them at Benamejí. Fear not, it's not the art of rafting that is the complication, but just the task of getting yourself into the neoprene wet-suits that they provide!
Before entering the water you are given a thorough briefing on safety and how to paddle and control your raft. Then you join some others in your raft (each one takes between 6 and 8 people). As you make your way down the river there are several rapids you go through, but nothing that will be beyond you. You'll be left with a sense of exhilaration and the sound of laughter, and a little feeling of wetness.
The Patio of Anselmo in Rute
If you haven't visited the Patio of Anselmo, you really haven't seen Rute. This is where you find the true essence of the region.
Walk through the gate, and even before you reach the patio, you come face to face with a brandy bodega packed with interest. The casks where the brandy is stored and matured are covered with signatures of famous people such as Baroness Thyssen, posters of epic bullfights, antique lamps and other unique and unusual artefacts. But all that is just for starters and the main dish arrives when you have passed through the bodega and set foot in the patio. A patio that has been in the Anselmo family for more than 30 years and the winner of various awards. The photos speak for themselves: plants and flowers abound.
The brandy cellar and the Patio of Anselmo are part of the Museum of Anise, the traditional tipple in Rute. Obviously, a visit to the cellar and the patio also include the opportunity to taste the Anise and other local liqueurs.
Inland Water Sports at Iznájar
Visit the little town of Iznájar, where there is the largest reservoir in Andalucia and enjoy a day at the beach in fresh water. Who doesn't like to go for a refreshing swim, enjoy a good lunch, or simply put a towel on the sand and soak up the sun?
Just along from the Reservoir Interpretation Centre, about 2 km from the village of Iznájar, you'll find the swimming area area, beach bars and all kinds of water sports. Kayaking, sailing, motor boats, windsurfing, paddle surf… are all among the sports you can try out here.
However, if the water is not your thing, don't worry. You have many other options available: there are a huge number of hiking or cycling routes to suit all levels of fitness and ability.
Where to Stay
The nearest little hotel to Izanájar and the other places we've mentioned is the wonderful Finca Las Encinas. Also nearby is Almohalla 51.
If you prefer to stay in a city and travel out into the hills, pick the Palacio Marqués de La Gomera in Osuna or the Balcón de Córdoba in Córdoba.
Just a little further south, so also closer to the coast for alternative days out, there are La Fuente del Sol, Cortijo Valverde and Cortijo El Guarda.