Anthony & Nina, England
March 2012, 5 days
We decided to take a few days in Andalucía at the end of March to get away from cold wet London. I own a VW campervan myself, so you might think it sounds a bit crazy to fly to Spain and hire one? But the truth is nothing else can match the campervan experience for adventure. We tend to get itchy feet in a place after 1 or 2 days, so a campervan is the perfect holiday for us. Having been to Andalucía several times over the years, we knew there were places we wanted to see again, and new places to explore.
We arrived at Malaga Airport and were greeted bang on time by smiley friendly Gonzalo, who whisked us to his spotless garage about 10 minutes away.
We’d chosen Lola – the long wheel base high top – and there she stood, gleaming red. Gonzalo showed us around the van and how everything worked. He also talked to us about where to go, and what campsites to stay at. The actual admin bits were all quick and easy – a nice change from the queues at the airport when you’re picking up a hire car!
Before we knew it, we were already driving Lola out the garage and hitting the open road. If you’ve ever driven an old VW bus, then you know there’s a real art to it – they don’t really go, stop or take corners in any kind of hurry. Lola couldn’t be more different! The cab is very much like sitting behind the wheel of a car, and there’s loads of power from the 2.5 turbo diesel engine. The only difference is the size – Lola (being the high top long wheel base model) is a fair bit bigger than an old ‘bay window’ or ‘type 25’ I’m used to. The other difference is that Lola has no rear window. This took a bit of getting used to, but I soon realised the door mirrors are excellent and give you a good view behind.
Our first stop was a site in Torre del Mar. A nice enough place very near the beach, and a nice easy drive from Malaga for our first night – close to the autovia too so it’s easy to find. I wouldn’t really recommend it though as there are nicer campsites in the area.
What we noticed straight away was how well equipped Lola is. All the kitchen stuff you could want (including that oh so important cork screw and bottle opener!) were included and looked new. There were also maps, campsite guides and so on. Gonzalo had thought of pretty much everything!
All the fixtures and fitting in the van were great too. Lola is a Westfalia which is the best kind of conversion – all German quality and efficiency. There’s everything you need, and everything works well. What really surprised me though, is that at 6’4” (195cm) I could stand up straight! Most fixed roof vans are a bit low for me. At night the seats convert into one small double, and there’s another ‘upstairs’ in the roof the slides out with no fuss. I slept up there, and again was really impressed that it was long enough for me.
We soon noticed too, that the fridge is excellent – even when you’re not at a site and plugged into the mains it stays super cold (a huge improvement on my old T25!). And at the other end of the scale, Lola is equipped with a diesel heater that warms up the van in no time – even in southern Spain it can get cold at night in March.
I won’t bore you with all the details of everywhere we went, but here are a few highlights that I’d recommend. If you look at a map, you’ll be able to see that we covered a fair amount of miles in just five days!
Cabo de Gata – the very south east tip of Spain. Essentially a dessert and quite wild. We stayed at La Garrofa campsite and had a pitch literally on the private beach. Falling asleep to the sound of waves crashing on the pebbles is what camping should be all about – but it’s rare to find this.
Sierra Nevada – the mountains near Granada. We stayed at Camping Las Lomas. This is a really nice site with amazing views. It’s also a nice walk to the village/small town of Guejar Sierra. You could also visit Granada easily from here – but I recommend you stay at Camping Sierra Nevada near the bus station and walk/get the bus rather than trying to drive right into the city and park a campervan!
Nerja – this is a nice resort town between Malaga and Motril. The beach just west of La Herradura is beaitiful if you fancy the hairpin bends drive down to it! (look for La Barraca on Google maps to find it). There are two nice (albeit a bit pricey) restaurants right on the beach, and in fact you could freecamp there out of season as long as you spend a bit of money in the restaurant. Nerja is also near Frigilliana which is a beautiful ‘white town’ just inland. We stayed at Nerja Camping which is very small and nice just to the east of Nerja.
We had a great holiday, and would definitely recommend Flamenco Campers to anyone who wants to explore beautiful Andalucía.
Anthony & Nina