November 22, 2011

Day trip, walking and swimming: La Alcaicería, Los Ventorros and El Pato Loco

<!--:en-->Day trip, walking and swimming: La Alcaicería, Los Ventorros and El Pato Loco<!--:--><!--:en-->Day trip, walking and swimming: La Alcaicería, Los Ventorros and El Pato Loco<!--:-->

If you wish to combine nature and a leisurely walk through beautiful countryside in the shade of a canopy of poplar trees along a river bank, followed by lunch, and a cool splash and a sun bathe, this is a great day trip to make from Escuela La CrujiaFrom the Escuela, drive to the Bar El Cruce and turn left, heading due North up the A356 and just before reaching Lake Viñuela, taking the sign on the right towards Alcaucin.  Keep going along this road, straight on, past the Periana crossroads where there are several shops, bars and restaurants, and keep going, up the scenic mountain road, in the direction of Alhama de Granada, to the U shaped Zafarraya mountain pass.  Here you will cross into Granada province and through a rather non descript little town called Ventas de Zafarraya.  At the end of the village, where the road bends to the right, follow the right hand bend, signposted Alhama de Granada.

Sheep on road, Zafarraya

Keep going along a very straight road, for a number of Kms, until you come to the Bar Restaurante San Marcos and a big Hotel right in front.  Park here.  (For Winter explorers the Bar San Marcos has a wonderful old fireplace with a welcoming fire always burning in the hearth.  The fireplace is so large, there are even tables and chairs inside it, for a snug, warm Winter lunchtime or a drink).

After a refreshing drink at San Marcos, take the track to the right of the hotel.  This is a most beautiful road which takes you deep into the natural park of the Sierra de Tejeda within an area known as El Robledal.  You can stop at any point and take a walk, and if you listen carefully you will hear all sorts of birds and animals in the trees and countryside all around!  If you go far enough you will reach the start of the least strenuous walk up to the peak of the Maroma mountain (visible from Escuela La Crujia gardens, and the highest mountain peak in Malaga province) but for the purposes of this specific daytrip, this is not advisable, as you need  a whole day for that, and a lot of energy!  On this road you might also see some wonderful old crumbling ‘corijos’ or farmhouses, monuments to a lost, past way of life.

Back in the car, drive back to the hotel, and continue along the road in the direction of Alhama de Granada.  Before reaching the town, look out for the sign to the right to Jatar/Arenas del Rey.  Take this (spot the cave house on your right as you drive along).  A few minutes along this road, you will c

El Ventorro

ome to the magnificent Presa de Alhama (Alhama dam), a beautiful spot with calm waters and a couple of bird watching centres to view the many waterfoul that breed here in the Spring and stop here at various times of the year.  Park in the tree-shaded car parking area to the right of the Bar El Ventorro.

From here, you can follow footpaths down to the edge of the lake by walking back, past the dam waterfall, and looking for the paths on your left.  Or, continue on past El Ventorro, and past the next door establishment, El Pato Loco, and a little way after that, on the right hand side, follow a country lane through poplar trees along the river Alhama.  A lovely place to walk, especially in the Autumn!

El Pato Loco pool

Hungry now?  Here you have a choice – try both bars with a pre-lunch drink! El Ventorro, an old-world, rustic style bar and restaurant, is full of atmosphere and very pleasant.  To the rear, it boasts rooms to stay, within a series of caves dug out of the rock, and a lovely private spa, in Arabic style splendour!

El Pato Loco (The Mad Duck), next door, is a huge restaurant seating 500+ people with a large feature fireplace to the far end.  But what’s special about this place is that here, there is a huge open air pool, for use of its clientele.  So this is the ideal place, after a meal, to while away the remainder of the afternoon splashing in the pool or louning in the sun, surrounded by the local inhabitants of Alhama.  Great, too, if you just wish to relax with a coffee after lunch and send the kids off to play in the pool and practice their Spanish with the local children!

Head back the way you came,  for the shortest route back, but if you have time a quick trip into Alhama itself is worth while, or, from Pato Loco, continue on, turning towards Arenas del Rey, then on to Fornes, discovering the wonders of beautiful Lake Bermejales.

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