We are finally leaving our province of Cadiz and off to Setenil de las Bodegas. Why, you ask? The name has “de las bodegas”! We assume that refers to the place where they store the wines–the cathedrals of wine, as they say in Jerez de la Frontera. Today, on the first real leg of our fourth family camping, road trip, we went from camping in the pine trees in Bolonia to camping under an “anciano” (ancient/old) olive tree. It was a proper farewell to the Atlantic ocean, climbing the sand dune of Bolonia and watching sunset and the children play at one of the most beautiful beaches of Andalucia.
Here’s our travel-day 3 of 23 days, in pictures. . . with ramblings from the road and a review of Camping el Nogalejo in Setenil for all you happy campers out there. Big Smile!
If you need more info, text follows at the end of the pictures below. Enjoy!
ROAD RAMBLINGS (notes from the road)
Arrived 197.9 miles. 1235–1552
23:47 Today, on the first real leg of our fourth family camping, road trip, we went from camping in the pine trees to camping under an “anciano” (ancient/old) olive tree.
But before all that, I planned on going back to Jerez for the simple reason that we ran out of sherry for the road. Does that mean I have some kind of dependency problem? Hhhhmmmmmm. Not really. We just do not have Fino or Oloroso or Amontillado and we have 23 days on the road. We ran out because we had a sort of wild party a couple nights before we were supposed to hit the road. It was supposed to be a small party for dear dear friends that, as most good parties do, turned into a bigger no-holds-barred reverie. No love lost but not a drop was left of the six liters of various Jerezano wines–our stash for the road–the next day. So we thought (I thought, rather) that we needed to stop by Jerez on the way to Setenil de las Bodegas. It’s a detour but we can only get good authentic sherry from the holy sherry trinity! Besides there’s a COOP–a wine Cooperative–that sells the stuff very inexpensively. The coop is pretty damn good and that’s where the locals go! We couldn’t find any alternative anywhere else in this region. There’s a lot of bodegas but they are the expensive type for the other kinds of wines.
In the end, I decided not to backtrack because it would have been just a waste of time. I couldn’t justify going through our Xere just to get wine. We’ll buy what we need on the road and try out local wines. So we decided to head straight to Setenil de las Bodegas. Why is it called that?
It seemed that in the 15th century the Romans founded the village and they wanted to have olives and almonds. Later, they decided to have vineyards and lots of it. So, they gotta have some kind of good local wines there, hopefully cheap too! This is the place famous for having houses in the rock, under the rock and over the rock. So we’ll check it out tomorrow.
The Lone Mountain Road from Tarifa to Setenil de las Bodegas
The route. Backtrack towards Algeciras. Instead of taking the mountain, winding route, direct from where we were in Tarifa, we’llcut through the mountain past Algeciras and head straight to Setenil. On the way to Algeciras, we’re able to stop by the the lone cafeteria/bar/reststop with viewpoint (El Mirador del Estrecho) since we’re now driving on the right, have some snack, and enjoy the scenery, overlooking the Strait of Gibraltar and Morocco.
You see, we are a slow-go family wen it comes to travelling. We prefer to seize the opportunity to see something cool without overloading our itinerary.
After circumventing Algeciras, instead of going through the kitschy stretch of coastal towns between Gibraltar and Marbella that we have been through a couple of times already, we’ll get on the A-405 through the sierras of Cadiz, heading towards Ronda.
The lonesome mountain road was only supposed to add 15 minutes to the trip. But we’re safe drivers. So, w e were on that road for about an hour and a half. With a curvy, narrow road with deep ditches on both sides, it’s a little bit of a hairy ride. Even made worse when somebody’s right on your tail and the loco ones just zooming through the mountain pass! Such lovely views and bucolic tranquility makes it all worthwhile. Especially the parts where the bends would open up and you could see little dots of white villages like idyllic Spanish serenades like in storybooks.
There’s this one valley, for example, that had three or four of these pueblos blancos that are looking at each other. But to get from one to another is a different matter. Picturesque views that would suck up a lot of your time if you were to stop at every single viewpoint or village. One of these villages, Guacin, is a bit more modernized and bigger than the rest with about 1500 inhabitants. “We could live here!”, my wife exclaims. Another one farther down the road gives you a great view of The Rock of Gibraltar and Morocco too on clearwater clear days. Then once you get past the sierras, it’s not much else. Not a lot of olive trees, just a bunch of trees and rocky outcrops. An hour and a half later, you go down the mountain and start to see the vineyards and the plains.
So we went from the province of God [note: direct AI-generated transcription for the province of Cadiz, love it!], through the province of Málaga, and then back to the province of Cadiz. We are on the northeastern part of the province of Cadiz, south of Alcala del Valle, that juts out and into Malaga.
Tomorrow we hit “set Anil, The libuse Killers bodegas” [note another brilliant AI-generated transcription for “Setenil de las Bodegas”]. Then, of course, more swimming pool. And there’s another one–the ruins of the Roman Ruins of Acinipo–about 15 minutes away, to keep in my back pocket. Okay. That’s it. See if I can copy this without a problem.
REVIEW of Camping el Nogalejo in Setenil
We finally arrived at our destination. It was so dang hot it must be 50 degrees or something. I almost gave up on this campsite because I thought there was not going to be any shade. Without shade under the Andalusian summer sun, the devil and his little minions might decide to camp out next to us. We had to wait a couple of minutes. We arrived about 1550, drove from about 12:30 to 1550 with a 20-minute stop at the Viewpoint of the Strait of Gibraltar.
As if waiting in the heat was not bad enough! The boys got excited naturally upon seeing the (what else) swimming pool that we could not get into until after we checked in. We had to go to the bar next door to the reception in the end to check in. I’m glad we did because this is perhaps one of the best campsites we’ve seen. Apparently, it’s only been here for a year and a half. The old olive tree however looked like they’ve been here for decades, if not hundreds of years. Maybe, the barkeep meant modernized a year and a half ago. It’s perfect, man. There’s no one here except just one other camper van and another one with a couple that just pulled in this afternoon. It’s a van conversion, you know, one whose roof converts into a bed.
This camping is next to a field, a field of orange and olive groves which looks like being converted into an extension of the camping because the olive trees are nicely spaced and there are bunch of broken trees or trees that were removed piled on the side. This camping is very quiet.
Apartments. There’s also what looks like an apartment complex that can have six people each unit. It’s an apartment for rent with six people and its place. There’s also A-frames and cabins for “glamping” or uppity-scale campers. There’s a couple of modernized A-frames with glass walls. They’re all empty. It would be hot in there in this heat.
NOTE: In case you’re wondering. . . NO, we have not received (nor expect to receive) any form of compensation or freebies or anything at all for reviewing or mentioning this or any others on our blog. We do because it may be helpful to you and others. And it’s fun too!
What we like about this campground?
This is a great camping site; likely one of our favorite camping places, if it weren’t for the heat which usually just hits us first thing in the morning right around. 8:30 or 9 o’clock. We did not position our tent efficiently. So, you know the morning sun can get us fried.
Super-clean modern WC/bathrrom with all the blings! That’s what we really love about Camping El Nogalejo in Setenil. You can stay in that bathroom for a long time because it was quite clean and cool-looking! It’s a completely modernized with prefabricated dividers. Really bright colors. The floors are like wood-looking tiles. And there’s toilet paper. It’s sparkling clean. It seems like every time a camper goes in there, somebody else goes in to clean after. It’s fantastic! There’s this, what I thought, was a shampoo, gel, hair dryer and lockers. Not a lot of lockers but if you need it, it’s good to have the option to store things while you do your bathroom business. I know, it’s geeking-it by raving about a bathroom. But a good clean bathroom with all the bling-blings is unusual for camping grounds and we have been to quite a few across Europe.
The other thing that we love about this camping site are the olive trees. There is this, what my boys called “Shadow Man” olive tree that looked liked it has witnessed the land change from Spain to the Muslims and back to Spain again. It’s right at the center of the camp and it’s fat and very shadeful. It covers basically two medium-sized plots. The plots are big enough to fit a car are big new (4-person) pop-up tent and a lot more space for dining area, chilling and playing. As expected when camping in Spain, it’s a dirt pitch/ground. You can’t even put your peg in. Just pray or ponder what happens when it rains. But that’s camping in Spain, definitely in Andalusia.
Another thing to appreciate here is the access point to potable water right at your pitch. That’s convenient!
What we don’t like about this camping site?
Not much. The only little downside is that there’s not a lot of hot water and there’s not a lot of flow in the shower head. Also, there’s not an automatic water control system to save water, so that when you open the faucet, the water just goes on and on and on until you turn it off.
what to do near CAMPING El Nogalejo
So, what to see or do nearby? With the following recommendations, you can easily spend at least 4 days here, more if you wanna have some relaxing visit.
- Setenil de las Bodegas--this is the top place to see here with its whitewashed houses tucked under the cliffside rocks, on the rocks and even in the rocks, with a hilltop Arab fortress. There’s an impressive view over the town and the countryside from the Torreon tower. There’s also a museum that exhibits the cultural and natural history of the town.
- Acinipo–the remnants of a Roman town turned into an ongoing archaelogical site. The site was founded by retired soldiers who chose this location for its defensive features, located about 10 kilometers southwest of Setenil, accessible via a narrow but paved country road.
- About 11 kilometers is a village called Torre Alháquime with a Moorish castle and cemetery.
- Alcalá del Valle–7 kilometers north of Setenil is the last village, supposedly, along te Route of the White Villages and serving as a bridge between the provinces of Cadiz and Malaga and their respective Costa de la Luz and Costa del Sol.
- Algodonales–a sleepy little town with all the charm that a sleepy little city tucked in the sierras that’s well worth it a visit. For you FLAMENCO GUITARISTS/TOCAORES, there’s an artesan guitar maker here called Benny where you can get top of the line, one of a kind flamenco guitars. Located about half-an-hour (or 26 kilometers) drive west into the area for paragliding.
Dirt pitch plot with plenty of space. No problem with our big now-bigger tent, car, dining area.
Below-average price at €30 euros (tax included) for a family of 4 (2 kids–1 under 5) in a 4-person tent with electricity at the beginning of the summer season (first week of July). It was €46.50 at the last camping site.
Breakdown: €x.xx per night for a pitch that is big enough for a 4-person tent, a car, a table and cooking ware, and then some more! €x.xx for an adult, €x.xx for children between 3 and 12 years old.
The swimming pool is fantastic. Everything is modernized.
After visiting Setenil the following day, we needed to head home right away because the boys wanted (obviously) the swimming pool. This is especially needed in this land where it can get already quite hot at 10 o’clock even in the summer shade.
There’s no bar at the handicap-friendly swimming pool like in the camping in Tarifa but towards the closing time, there was a group of six, seven, young adults there, who ordered drinks cocktails from the restaurant bar. The waiter delivered it to them at the pool. It was eight o’clock closing time but they didn’t really close. Guess it depends on where there’s drinking and paying customers.
Playgrounds are always a nice family-friendly addition that our children appreciate . . . what child wouldn’t?!? Here, there was a small playground for young children in between the camping area and the apartments. A little climbing structure with a slide, a couple exercise machines, one two, three machines as all enclosed by a wooden fence–a log-barricade to separate it from the camp’s inner road that goes around. There are some benches here but hardly any shade.
The play area is in the center of the camp and it’s also has bocce sand box, picnic tables and a grill. If you bring your own wood.
You can easily spot the entrance to Camping Nogalejo from the straight road. The camp site has a white wall with a big sign that reads “camping”. There were also flags on poles that could make it easier for you to spot.
There’s a big clearing in front of the entrance that should make it easier for campervans and caravans to turn into. Once you pull into the entrance, the reception would be right ahead, next to the bar/restaurant on the left. There were several parking spaces in this area inside the property. There’s a controlled gate to access the camping grounds.
There is some shade here from matured olive and other trees, all over the camping site and in between pitches. Over the years the younger trees that were carefully planted around the pitches would provide the ample shade needed in this area, This is especially helpful when camping in the summer in Andalucia. You’re in Spain after all!
How’s the pitch? It’s a rectangular-ish pitch, sufficiently big enough to fit a car and a 4-person tent (bigger than last year’s) and two eating tables–small and a large and then some more. But it really does not matter because there was hardly anyone here during our visit in the first week of July! The boys could play in all 4 pitches in our area and we could actually move our tables to follow the shade.
And you know you’re in Spain when the pitches are straight dirt/ground; grassy pitches are a luxury here in Spain. We had a bit tougher time sinking our tent pegs here, but we did not break the pegs.
The campground also offers “GLAMPING” (or glamourous camping) with about eight jazzed-up cabins, bungalows and a couple of A-frames. You can see through the glass walls of the A-frames. There was ample space for caravans too.
Camping El Nogalejo site has only about 20 places for camping, campervans, caravans or, like us, car-and-tent people. The camp could accommodate three or four more tents for campers on foot or bicycles towards the entrance.
On the other side of the tents were little bungalows, about six of them.
One side of about 1.5-meter tall of well-maintained privacy hedges, on one side (if you’re lucky), along the main gravel road in the camp. It marks the outer border of the campsite and the inner border where the roads paths, where the cars passed would pass. None between pitches. Taller bushes (over 2 meters) in the outer edges of the camping site to separate the property from the rest pf the fields and road.
VERY CLEAN place to do your business and it comes with plenty and FREE toilet paper. Believe you me, there are plenty of camping sites out there that do NOT provide this most essential service! There are shower and bathroom stalls for 3 to 4 people, maybe five.
Modernized bathroom and showers. NO PROBLEM with hot showers and nor water drainage.
There are benches to put your things on, gels, sanitizers and paper towels. . . and lockers!
NO separate FAMILY or KIDS’ WC/bathroom which, admittedly, is a novelty for camping sites, but NOT unusual for family-friendly camping sites in Spain.
Dishwashing and clothes-washing area are sufficiently clean located on the outside walls of the bathroom. There were three sinks for washing dishes and four places for washing clothes with a laundry/dryer in the middle.
DINE or DRINKS
Camping El Nogalejo has bar/restaurant that looks like a very modern Italian restaurant with plenty of shaded outdoor seating area and several tables inside. You might NOT like shade, but it could be a life-saver in the summer. YOU’RE in SPAIN after all!
It’s not that so expensive. The local wine is called 250 guajillo or something like that, and it’s great place to watch football matches. It’s right along the main road with plenty of parking that gets local traffic.
WIFI works great everywhere, fast and FREE (or at least no additional costs)!
One set of laundry and dryer machines are some additional amenities, for additional pay of course.
We did not see any fridge, freezer or microwave or a camper-accessible kitchen. It is not usual anyway for camping sites to have these extra benefits for campers’ use, but it is still good to have and to note once we come across one. Maybe we just missed it because we did not ask. If it did have it, it was NOT obvious.
TIP for Camping el Nogalejo, Setenil
To be able to use the swimming pools, make sure to bring swimming caps/headgear (you know, those little things you put over your head to make sure your hair does NOT get into the pool, and if you have it on too tight, your eyes start to squint like you’re a drunken runaway monkey. . .) Yup, that one! You need it here.
In fact, it would do you good to bring them with you when camping in Spain (maybe even France) to save you money, just in case the camping site that you ended up in has a pool.
Next Stop: Setenil de las Bodegas
Onwards, upwards. . . . to Andorra! Here’s the first half of our family camping road trip. . . number FOUR! 1,617-something kilometers from Jerez de la Frontera, detour to Bolonia, then Setenil de las Bodegas, the white villages of the Alpujarras, the caves of Guadix, Baeza, Ubeda, Ossa de Montiel, the hanging houses of Cuenca, Lake Caspe and finally the little country of Andorra. . . at least for the first half of this trip!
Thanks for checking us out!