Last October I went to a place in the south of Spain called El Rocío and it was mental. I tried to sell this article to several travel websites, but they ignored me, so here it is, just a bit less serious. It’s partly about wildlife, of course, with a bit of storytelling. I even had to do a bit of research.
In October 2017, my parents took me and my sister to the Costa del Sol (Estepona, sort of near Malaga) for two weeks. Going on holiday with your parents as an adult isn’t particularly cool, but it was a lot of fun, and to give my parents their dues, it was very kind of them to take us; they certainly didn’t have to.
I’d wanted to go to Andalucía/ Andalusia for a long time (I actually applied to spend my year abroad there, but ended in Galicia, which couldn’t be much more different). Apart from beaches and a climate that reaches highs of over 40° in the summer and remains in the 30s well into October, it also has a lot of Spain’s most impressive cities and cultural sites, especially Sevilla/ Seville and the Alhambra and Generalife (which to me always sounds like a brand of insurance that should sponsor a major Spanish football team) in Granada.
I’m as keen as anyone else on walking around a fancy Moorish castle and eating tapas (even though my vegetarian family limited this), but years ago someone told me about a far more important reason to visit Southern Spain: the Doñana National Park.
The Doñana is one of the Europe’s most renowned birdwatching sites, with iconic species including flamingoes. It’s also the best place to spot the endangered Iberian Lynx, a secretive big cat* with a wild population of approximately 400 in the world.** Fortunately, my family like birds and animals as well, so I was able to convince them to break up the holiday with a safari in the Doñana. This led to us staying in El Rocío.