For a change away from the hustle and bustle of the Costa del Sol, why not look inland? The interior of Andalucia presents an ever changing picture of fascinating landscapes that greet the traveller at every bend in the road. One of the recommended trips for a day away from the coast is a visit to an area of outstanding natural beauty with mountains and water in profusion. For there is nothing quite as exhilarating as a trip to the Lakes of Malaga. Located only some 50 km north of the city of Malaga, with the superb road infrastructure it is possible to reach them within an hour.

By visiting the Lakes, you will see scenery and green forests and dramatic landscapes that literally take your breath away. Travelling through parts of Spain that are so often missed by visitors; with almond trees and olive groves in profusion set against gentle rolling hills.

Lake Malaga

But there is a surprise before you actually reach the Lakes. You will come to the incredible Garganta del Chorro, near the small pueblo of El Chorro. This spectacular gorge carries the river from the Lakes through the mountains on its way to Malaga. Along one side of the gorge is a walkway that is literally pinned into the cliffs. It is known as the King’s walkway or the Caminito del Rey. It is literally a narrow ledge, with some of it with no handrail or safety facilities. It is only possible for those with nerves of steel and the ability of mountain goats to traverse it. The gorge is some 4 km long with the box on each side of the river reaching over 200 m high.
One of the interesting sites to be seen is the railway bridge connecting both sides of the rock faces and where the train runs through from Malaga to Cordoba and Madrid.

Once you reach the Lakes themselves, there are many scenic walks to take along the shores and in the surrounding countryside. There are also a number of restaurants and cafes located in the small pueblos dotted around.
The whole area is a natural park with its wildlife protected and the walking routes marked for easy access. Alcazar de Bobastro near El Chorro is the remains of an old Moorish fortress and Iglesia Rupestre de Bobastro, the ruins of the first church in Spain.

Malaga Lake is over 100 acres in size. It is well known for good bass fishing and is a popular destination among locals for swimming and picnicking. In addition to abundant fish, the lake hosts a variety of wildlife including multiple species of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and dragonflies that can be viewed from the water’s edge and woodland trails.

The best way to see this wonderful hinterland is to rent a car from CarGest. The company has a reputation for not only superb cars but also offering excellent advice for your day in the Lakes of Malaga. Indicating the best sites such as picnic tables, charcoal grills, beach, and playground. All designed to make this an easy place to have a great time with the whole family.

So take yourself and family and friends to this most remarkable and outstanding area of incredible beauty, the Lakes of Malaga. Once you have been there you will want to visit time and time again. Be sure to visit very soon.

 

The famous fiestas of San Fermin are celebrated in Pamplona, in the region of Navarra, every year from the 6th to the 14th of July. They have become internationally known because of the running of the bulls through the streets of the old quarter until finishing at the bull ring.

Pamplona running of the bulls

The fiestas are celebrated in honour of San Fermin, patron saint of Navarra and they attract a mass gathering of people from all corners of the world. Where the partying, the fun and the joy of it all last from beginning to end. The tradition is born from need: getting the bulls from outside the city into the bullring. Starting at the corral in Calle Santo Domingo at the stroke of eight o’clock and after the launching of two rockets, the bulls charge behind the runners for 825 metres, the distance between the corral and the bullring. The run usually lasts between three to four minutes although it can last for over ten minutes, especially if some of the bulls have been isolated from the main pack. The fun begins when the runners, just a few metres up the slope from the corral and the bulls, raise their rolled newspapers and chant to an image of San Fermin placed in a small recess in the wall in the Cuesta de Santo Domingo. Against a wall of silence, the following words can be heard: “A San Fermin pedimos, por ser nuestro patron, nos guie en el encierro dandonos su bendicion.” (We ask San Fermin, being our patron saint, to guide us in the bull run and give us his blessing). When they finish they shout “Viva San Fermin!, Gora San Fermin.” This chant is sung three times before 8am and then when there are five minutes to go before 8am. Rockets are launched at three minutes and one minute before the gate of the corral is opened. At the end, a third rocket, fired from the bullring, signals that all the bulls have entered the bullring. A fourth and final rocket indicates that all the bulls are safely in the corral located inside the bullring, and that the bull run has ended.

For security reasons, a double fence marks out the route of the bull run through the streets. It is made of over 3,000 parts sections that are assembled and disassembled every day by a special brigade of workers. A large number of pastores or shepherds cover the entire bull run. They place themselves behind the bulls, with their only protection being a long stick, to stop the bulls turning round and running backwards, and to help any that have stopped or have been separated. Other key people in the bull run are the dobladores, with their good bullfighting knowledge, they take up position in the bullring with capes to help the runners fan out to the sides after they enter the bullring and entice the bulls towards the corral as quickly as possible.

After the daytime running there is another in the evening. Just six fighting bulls that take part in the evening programme of bullfighting, start the run accompanied by an initial group of mansos, who guide the bulls along the route. Two minutes after they leave the corral in Santo Domingo, a second group of bullocks which are slower and smaller than the first, are let out to help lead any bulls that might have stopped on their way. Taking part is an incredible experience for spectators and runners alike. Defined by the level of risk and the physical ability of the runners, it requires cool nerves, quick reflexes and a good level of physical fitness and have that Spanish verve to call upon.

 

There is no shortage of places to play tennis on the Costa del Sol. There is a myriad of clubs and facilities to choose from. Amongst these are the two most famous clubs, the Manolo Santana Raquets Club in Marbella and Lew Hoads Campo De Tennis in Mijas.

Founded by two icons of the international tennis world, these two clubs epitomise the meaning of tennis for all.
Manolo was a player of incredible talent and still has that magic touch today. He could hit the ball to the most incredible angles and would confuse his opponents with topspin lobs and drop shots. He was able to master his game, specially his service and his volleying, becoming a master in all surfaces.

His club is renowned for its mix of relaxation and tennis coaching at all levels. Manolo is still to be found there and it is the location where the Marbella Open is held each summer. His pedigree is outstanding, being Wimbledon champion in 1966 and in fact until 2008, Manolo was the only Spanish player to have won Wimbledon, in addition to another 5 Grand Slams. He was also the world’s number one in 1966 and was three times Roland Garros champion in 1961 and 1964 plus 1963 doubles champion when he teamed up with his good friend and sometime opponent Roy Emerson. He added the US Open to his haul in 1965.
Manolo played in the Spanish Davis Cup team a total of 119 games. In the singles he won 69 out of 85 games, and in doubles he won 24 out of 34. He was also the Davis team captain for 8 years. From 1980 to 1984 and from 1995 to 1999.

Tennis Costa del Sol

Manolo has received many accolades for his dedicated professional work in the world of sports and especially tennis. Being awarded the Gold Medal Sport merit, Great Cross Isabel la Católica, Gold medal Villa de Madrid, Great Cross Real Orden Del Mérito Deportivo and Gold Medal Comunidad de Madrid. Over the last 10 years, Manolo has worked as commentator for Tele Madrid, Canal Plus and Radio Televisión Española, as well as collaborating with other national media. For the last nine years, Manolo has been the Director of Masters Series Madrid (Mutua Madrileña), one of the most prestigious tennis events in the world.

Australian Lew Hoad was also a former number one tennis player with a huge charisma to match his game. With his movie-star good looks, powerful physique, and outgoing personality, Hoad became a tennis icon in the 1950s. He won four majors as an amateur and the Tournament of Champions as a professional. In retirement, Hoad moved to Mijas where he and his tennis-playing wife, Jenny Staley, operated the tennis resort for more than thirty years entertaining personal friends such as actors Sean Connery, Kirk Douglas, and Charlton Heston.

The Lew Hoads facilities at the club bearing his name include eight tennis courts, beautiful landscaped gardens, bar, restaurant, pool and boutique. Lew’s passion for the game was particularly reflected in his enthusiasm for recognising and bringing on young talent. The excellence of tuition lives on and there are ongoing tournaments for all standards, plus five major tournaments throughout the year.

If it tennis you want then the Costa del Sol has the answer. If you require a car hire to visit the resorts, then CarGest, the leading company in Malaga, can advise you on all the clubs available. Details can be found on their website.