The Despeñaperros Natural Park is a magnificent sheer-walled rocky river gorge that forms the backdrop of the most dramatic gateway into Andalucia. As the only natural break in the 500km-long Sierra Morena, it used to be one of the main routes into Andalucia from the north and Madrid. Today it is occupied by the A4 motorway and the Cadiz-Madrid railway line. Despenaperros literally means "cliff where dogs plunge".
Camping Despenaperros is usually used as an en route stop so we didn't have high expectations! The site was easy to find and in an attractive spot in the Despenaperros mountains north of Jaen, south of Madrid, in a small very Spanish village called Santa Elena.
Short dash cam of our arrival.
The entrance to the site was said to be difficult for larger units we are only 6.3 m so sailed in. The site was very quiet with a few permanent caravans and half a dozen cabins. We were given a spot under the trees with our own water tap.
The site is a two minute walk into the village and surrounded by olive groves on one side and the mountains on the other. We have found ourselves on our own most of the day with one or two overnight stoppers at around 5 to 6 pm. The site is very rural with loads of birds and amazingly silent at night.
View out across the olive groves.
Towards the mountains.
The toilet and showers have been really good with very hot water though somewhat chilly in the mornings. Washing up is out side but OK.
We did wonder how we would while away 7 nights here but we have been out walking most days. The paths surrounding the campsite go out into the national park.
A beautiful walk through the trees.
One day we found the local museum which explained so clearly the reasons for the Crusades. A huge and deciding battle was fought here between the Christian and Muslim troops in 1212.The museum explains the history.
We were the only people there and we had a great time looking around. The museum curator was very friendly. The museum had a tower that looked right out across the battlefields. Some of the soldiers were still lying there.
View out across the valley towards Santa Elena.
We have been so surprised at how fast 7 nights have flown. We have done all our shopping locally with fresh bread from the village shop and a few vinos in at a typically Spanish bar. All the locals have been very friendly although not much English spoken here.
Even Den now has a vocabulary of three Spanish words vino tinto & blanco. I actually understood how much the bread was this morning without looking at the till.
Across the road from the site is an hotel. We ate there on our first night and had a lovely meal. Tonight we will sample more food. Anyone for deer burgers??
As an en route stop Despenaperros is well worth it. Not sure if I would want to spend another whole week here but two nights would be perfect, or three if you really needed peace and tranquillity.
Tomorrow another hike to the coast and our third stop Castillo de Banus on the Costa Tropical. We have had some beautiful weather here in the mountains with some days hitting 20 C+ and no rain. Lets hope the coast lives up to expectations. 18 nights for the next stop, so sun ordered please.