Soul of Andalusia

 

Another Amazing View

Another Amazing View

All the reviews related to this tour review can be found here.  This was the first Andalusia Detours tour of the Soul of Andalusia run by Ray Monteith-Smith and his wife Debbie.  So, did it live up to expectations?  This is the third ‘Detour’ tour we have been on having been twice to Morocco with Ray.  Having limited holiday as we are still working and Southern Spain being a fair old drive away, when we first saw this advertised we said to each other “looks great, let’s do it when we are retired and have more time”.  Almost at that very instant, we received an email from friends we had been to Morocco with last asking if we were interested.  Before we knew it we had agreed to go, got a third friend to join (and thus a small discount on the price) and I was planning how I would fit it in to my annual holiday.  The answer to that was simple (and stupid) – I would just ‘drive it in one’ or as close to it as I could.  Also, we wouldn’t drive back, we would leave the motorhome in secure storage (Perpignan as it happens in the end) and go back and get it later.

So it was that we set out on what I would have to say was a very pleasant 15 day tour of Andalusia.  The tour avoided the obvious sites, like the Alhambra or the coastal resorts, and instead focused on the Andalusian hills and mountains.  Andalusia Detours don’t operate any kind of conventional convoy style tour.  Short briefings, mud maps and directions provided on the morning of each travelling day plus advice where you might like to stop for lunch after which it was ‘see you when you arrive’.  That suits us, no timetable, no fuss.  yes, we got lost a couple of times but who cares?  It’s a holiday.  We didn’t travel each day and the travelling we did do didn’t involve long distances.  Leaving between 9am and 10am you could probably be where you were going easily within a couple of hours.  It’s the inevitable stops along the way that make you arrive at 4pm to 5pm following perhaps a relaxing tapas lunch.

High spots, definitely El Torcal and the drive on the last day through the most spectacular pass I have ever seen topped off with an amazing lunch in the sunshine at Zahara de la Sierra with the sound of a church choir clearly audible in the background.

Breakfast in the Shade

Breakfast in the Shade

Andalusia Detours provided quite a few meals including breakfast and dinner during the tour.  I have lost count of how many.  There was one optional paid trip (to the Olive Farm, wildlife lake and vineyard) and one optional evening meal with Spanish dancing and singing.  Spanish food and drink was cheap – not always great I would have to say although Benamahoma is definitely worth a special mention for the trout and pijamas.  All in all, having paid for the trip at the beginning, costs during the trip were low and if you don’t eat out at all then VERY low (although it might be a bit boring).

The map below gives you an idea of the area we covered during the 15 days.

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You can see that we didn’t cover a huge area but they picked some amazing spots for us to stay and kept us out of trouble from towns with the narrowest streets – picking a route ourselves would have been so much more troublesome and likely to end up backing out of a difficult situation.  This is one of the things people don’t realise when they book a tour and then complain that the costs of campsites etc would have been so much cheaper had they done it on their own.  What you are paying for is the Intellectual property – the knowledge and the planning that has gone into making the tour what it is and I understand it has taken a couple of years to get this together.

When we go away I spend a great deal of time planning, where to go, how far to travel, where to stay.  It is a delight to hand this entire responsibility over to someone else for 15 days.  There was plemty of relaxing Gin and Tonic time in the evening and I would have to say, a great time was had by all.  If you want a real feel for Andalusia off the beaten track with no pressure then all i can say is that this is  highly recommended.

Now that's what i call a Gin and Tonic

Now that’s what i call a Gin and Tonic

 

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2 Responses to Soul of Andalusia

  1. Eddie Strong July 13, 2013 at 11:26 am #

    Hi Chris and Annie. Thanks for your company on yet another tour, the third. This is a true record of our truly amazing tour with Ray, Debbie and Steve. We have just arrived home after a super trip and hopefully we will meet up for a forth one of Ray”s tours. With best wishes EdLyn

  2. ceejayt July 13, 2013 at 2:25 pm #

    We can only say how lovely it was to be with you and Lynda and ken and Mary – thoroughly enjoyed it. Will try and make it to a fourth for sure 🙂

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