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From El Rocio to Andújar and beyond, Wednesday to Friday. Taking a rest after our last morning drive at El Rocío, we set off at midday for the three-hour drive, broadly following but sadly not aware of the Guadalquivír river, to our second hotel, the Hotel los Piños, 14 kilometres above Andújar, in the eastern  Sierra Morena.  But first we went backwards a little into the National Park, to have a picnic lunch at a lovely visitor centre, El Acebuche (the ‘wild olive tree’ already noted in El Rocío).  The temperature was rising (from about 25°C in Seville to about 30°C at the end of the week), but as long as one was in the shade, the dry heat was very welcome.  The visitor centre was informative:

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National, Natural, Parks etc in Andalucia. Doñana is the orange patch to the west, on the Atlantic, and the Sierra Morena the central and smallest green patch at the north.  The very tip at the south, on the Straits of Gibraltar, is Tarifa, near where our migration-geek Naturetrek guides, Simon and Niki live. Gibraltar itself is the little southward-pointing spur just to the east.

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El Rocío is where the dark and light green parts meet up with the yellow, and Acebuche is nearly at the coast to the south south-west of the town.

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“Travelling without frontiers”


An unusual sundial.  It works both sides, depending on where the sun is.

The scenery changed as we drove: P1280099P1280108 Our all-day outing the following day showed the dry landscape of the Sierra scattered with boulders (Pictures also snatched from moving vehicle).P1280151P1280154P1280160P1280170


Taken from a picnic spot as we had lunch, overlooking the…


reservoir of the Jándula, a tributary of the Guadalquivír


Arty-farty picture taken that day. (Ever since becoming aware of Dürer’s wonderful painting, ‘Great piece of turf (1503)’ I have been very sensible of the beauty of clumps of grass, etc.)


Sitting around looking for wildlife, no 23


Returning to barracks in the late afternoon, a view of distant mountains, not nearly as pretty, sadly, as when we had seen it in the cool mists of the morning


Another a-f picture. I loved the sun coming through the seed-heads.

The following morning, Friday, we got up very early indeed, before breakfast, in quest of our ‘prey’.  It was SOOOO COLD!  But beautiful.  P1280327P1280328P1280329P1280332P1280338We were very glad to get back to a good breakfast.


Clockwise round the table: Simon (guide-naturalist), Trish, David, Hugh, Stephen, Niki (guide-naturalist, and here waitress), Judy, Penny, Sharon, Margaret (hidden), Jason, and Henry.

Again we took a picnic lunch (Simon and Niki, our Naturetrek guides, did us proud each time!) and our stopping place made me nostalgic for my previous life in France. Where we ate so reminded me of lazy picnics on the banks of the Charente river – though perhaps there were no mountains in the French setting.


Sitting around looking for wildlife, no 34.

P1280393Interested in geology, I had been fascinated in these two days to see many extraordinary granite formations as we drove along, but I was able to get a photo of none of them.  This, right by our picnic spot, is a poor representative.  P1280402We ended the day where we had watched the dawn arrive hours earlier.  P1280499The final three posts will be about the wildlife we saw during those five days in the National and Natural Parks…