When we first came to Spain we intended to chill out in a rented villa for a couple of months.
As it was a total disaster we packed up and cleared off and went camping up the Andalucian coast, east of Malaga. We planned to follow the old N340 coast road all the way up as far as Murcia, as it was the only part of the Spanish Mediterranean coast that we had never properly explored.
The first stop was Valle Niza, a slightly scruffy site about five miles before the resort of Torre del Mar.
Apart from the weekends – when the Spanish descended with all their extended family to stay in their caravans or chalets, and made an absolute disaster of the toilets – the place was peaceful and tranquil.
There were a few northern Europeans with campervans. Some would stay a few days, the odd one or two stayed a few weeks.
Across the road from the campsite was the beach. We would wander up the bay with the dogs at sunrise, and wander up and down again in the evening at sunset.
We got sucked into the place and stayed for four or five weeks, but the weather looked as though it was about to change – it was late February and the rains were due – so we packed up and travelled on up the coast to the province of Almeria.
We found a clean and well-organised site at Almerimar. The site was right at the far end of the town on the beach. It was quite a hike into town though so we ended up just staying around the site. It was full of Germans. We would walk round in the mornings saying “Morgen” to everyone and hope they didn’t launch into a conversation. But lots of them did come to our pitch and spoke to us in English. We were a quaint novelty act with our 30-year-old Land Rover, and our small well-used back-packing tent. I don’t think they could believe the reality as they went back to their BMWs/Mercedes plus matching expensive caravans. Our tents match the Land Rover of course. Same colour.
Almeria has Europe’s only desert. It is very dry. But not in winter. When it rains it rains just as heavily as it does anywhere else in Spain. Not only did it rain on this camp site we had a full-on Mediterranean storm. In the middle of the night, the camp site maintenance staff were driving round clearing the roadways which were absolutely flooded.
Drying out after the rain
There is not a lot you can do on a campsite away from the town when it keeps raining all the time so we left. As did loads of others in their amazing campervan rigs who were all complaining at the management because their part of the site was flooded. Can’t say we had much sympathy for the whingers. It was hardly management’s fault that it rained.
We continued our trip up the coast and then decided to move inland to dry out at an excellent cheap hotel in a pretty seedy-looking area in Lorca. Great food in Lorca – highly recommended.
Two days of comparative luxury and we were off camping again. We did an about turn, and decided to head for Portugal via Gibraltar.
While we were checking out a camp site at Torrox Costa – the alternator bracket went. Again. The first time it had gone on the trip had been back in November when we just outside Cartama, a few miles short of our destination. Fortunately we had a few spares with us that we’d made earlier out of angle iron. Didn’t seem a good omen for the camp site though so we pressed on to Valle Niza.
After a couple of nights there, we headed down the coast. We stopped at Camping Tropical, which is just north of Estepona. It has atrociously small pitches – so much so that we had to commandeer some help from other campers to try and manoeuvre the heavily-loaded trailer uphill into the poxy space. Strictly a one-night job. So we moved a few kms further on the next day and found a great site – Camping Chullera (just south of Duquesa). It has now closed which is a shame or I would highly recommend it.
We decided we would head onto Tarifa to one of the sites that we had stayed at before when we were backpacking. I think it is the Rio Jara one, the first one on the left as you leave Tarifa. Given Tarifa’s windy reputation we figured that at least the tent would dry out and we would have a few nights away from the rain. Wrong.
Setting up camp in Tarifa
Mileage for trip – no toll motorways taken.
First day from Alhaurin via Torremolinos to Valle Niza – 80kms
Valle Niza to Almerimar – 150kms
Almerimar to Lorca via Mojacar – 214kms
Lorca to Valle Niza via the desert and mini-Hollywood – 350kms
Valle Niza to Camping Tropical (one night only) – 110kms
Camping Tropical to Camping Chullera (Duquesa) – 25 kms
Camping Chullera to Tarifa via La Linea/Gib – 75kms
1 Broken alternator bracket. Time taken to replace 1-2 hours.