MALAGA'S very own Lake District is reached through cactus stewn countryside just 10 minutes from El Chorro. The lakes of the GUADALHORCE reservoir when viewed from afar glitter like on fire and close up the artificial lakes boast a stunning diversity of wildlife. The three lakes were created in 1921 when a 200 m high dam was built across the Guadalhorce river gorge known as the GARGANTA DEL CHORRO. Eagles can be seen circle around the sheer limestone cliffs.
Chill out at EL CHORRO - it has it all, well almost. Bathwater warm turquoise water, tall pine trees and views to die for. The summer is baking hot but the shores are so vast it is easy to find a spot for sunbathing. EL CHORRO – The Spurt, is a firm favourite for campers and day-trippers. The lake is popular during the summer but there is enough shoreline to ensure you do not have to have a really close neighbour. You can pitch a tent for a few euros, there are concrete picnic tables by the dozen. There are modern toilet facilities and showers, a shop, a bar, restaurant and mains electricity for those with the luxury of a camper van. If you don't feel like roughing it hire a log cabin a few meters from the lake edge.
Hammocks are practically compulsory for a weekend visit as well as communal barbecues, hire a kayak, boats and paddle surfboards plus fishing. There is a plethora of adventure sports to sink your teeth into including abseiling, climbing, trekking, mountain biking and archery.
There is an excellent restaurant,EL KIOSKOL, which has a delightful terrace for the Summer and blazing log fire for the Winter. After a brisk walk along the lake shores the food goes down with a glass or two of wine in a very convivial setting.
Nestled on the side of a small mountain to the north of the Guadalhorce Valley in the foothills of the Sierra Blanquilla is the spa village of CARRATRACA. Situated on the road connecting the towns of ALORA and ARDALES and watched over by an impressive 1,200 meter high “El Grajo”(Rook) mountain, CARRATRACA has been renowned for its sulphur-water springs and their curative powers for hundreds of years and especially during the 19th century which was the golden age for the village.
One of CARRATRACA'S oldest buildings is its pretty little whitewashed church dedicated to the patroness of the village, Nuestra Senora de la Salud. Also sitting on top of Carratraca’s Host Mountains are the remains of another small church, known as the hermitage and reputedly destroyed by a lightening bolt on the day of completion.
At the heart of CARRATRACA is of course the SPA. It can be found near the main square and is constructed in Roman style out of sandstone and marble. The baths house various hydrotherapy rooms and very picturesque pools filled with spa water which is freezing cold as it rises out of the depths of the mountains. Still very much in use today with people coming from all over Spain and Europe to take the waters and enjoy some of the more up to date treatments available such as osteopathy, aromatherapy and shiatsu massage. Specially noted for their effectiveness in healing arthritis, skin disorders, and respiratory difficulties.
Heading back from the lakes stop at the Moorish ruins of BOBASTRO, built in the 10th century the once fortified village was the headquarters of Umar Ibn Hafsien, the man who lead the revolt against the Caliph of CORDOBA. Little remains of the ruined village except the church's, monumental arches, but an intangible atmosphere still hangs over the deserted village, whilst the views over the olive groves and countryside are simply stunning.
FUENTE DE PIEDRA - the town with a lake. The name of the town is closely related to the famous fountain of healing properties. People who had illness and drank the water were cured.
The origins of FUENTE DE PIEDRA go back to the 5th century B.C. Nevertheless the most ancient written belongs to the epoch of the Roman occupation. After Moslem domination the town disappeared in 1461 being reconstructed in 1547. After this time the town reached its zenith and the water from the fountain was exported to the King of Naples and even to America.
At the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century epidemics reduced the population and the spring lost its curative properties, as a result the fountain was moved. After this time began a new decline in the fountain fame which culminated in its burial in 1959. In 1990 it was dug and finally restored in 1994 and now you can see it in the Constitution Square in the town centre.
The history of the town has revolved around the salty LAGOON. Due to the saline content of the water it has been exploited for commercial purposes from Roman times up to the 1950’s. Its importance has resulted in its incorporation as a zone of special interest in the Ramsal Agreement.
The EEC has declared the area a special zone and a NATURE RESERVE in 1984 and nowadays it is considered to be one of the most important humid zones of the Western Mediterranean.
The lake is one of the most extensive in ANDALUSIA and includes not only flora and fauna but is also the fact that it is the most important nestling place for the common FLAMINGO in the Iberian Peninsula. As well as the PINK FLAMINGO another 30 species of aquatic birds nest here.
LOS BERMEJALES situated in the Province of GRANADA is an unspoilt beach with spectacular, pine clad hills and the Sierra beyond. Opened in 1958 this was the first concrete dam in the Province and was to store water for irrigation for the area. The River Cacin Canyon with its vertical sandstone walls is very near, and the beach is a good place to swim, row, canoe, sail or fish, and is never over crowded even in summer.
25 minutes from CASTRIL is LAKE NEGRATIN where the identifying feature of the region of BAZA is Mount Jabalcon at 1492 m, where hang gliders use the mountain as a launch, and the lake itself is popular with picnic areas with barbecues.
GRANADA Province has a number of Embalse and the San Clemunte just 15 minutes from CASTRIL is another seasonal lake with recreational facilities. The Embalse de Bolera again only 15 minutes from CASTRIL is the second largest nature reserve and lake in the region and has beautiful, crystal, clear blue water for Summer swimming, picnics and canoeing.
The thermal baths at ZUJAR are renowned for their healing qualities and the water comes directly from Lake Negratin and is a constant 38 degrees. You can also enjoy a meal at the excellent restaurant with stunning views of the lake and mountains.
CADIZ Province has a number of fresh water lagoons and the Laguna de Medina Natural Park close to Bahia de Cadiz sees overwintering of waterfowl and is a breeding ground for birds. Covering many hectares of protected area the lake may dry up in a drought.
SEVILLE Province has three saltwater lakes, Laguna de Zarractin, Laguna Arjona and Laguna Alcaparrosa covering 1161 ha and provides habitat for birds in the nearby Guadalquivir delta. The lakes are seasonal and best visited in the Winter or Spring.
ANDALUCIA has many lakes and lagoons, too many to mention, all with their own beauty, we have just given you a small example on your travels find out many more for yourself, you will never be disappointed.
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