The Guadiana River & Western Andalucia

8 Days from £779 | April, May, September 779

Your holiday base is the 4* Playamarina Hotel on Punta del Moral on Isla Canela in Spain, just over the Portuguese border. There are guided walks in the Natural Park area of the Donana, the Flecha del Rompido Nature Reserve and a walk and boat trip along the banks of the Rio Guadiana. In your free time you can relax and enjoy the surroundings of your hotel or take an optional excursion to the Rio Tinto mines.

Extend your holiday – extra week’s stay available in resort.

The Guadiana River & Western Andalucia

Past Customer Satisfaction Score for this holiday* - 89%
* as measured from holiday questionnaires - see FAQ for details

  • 7 nights hb in Isla Canela
  • Three varied walking excursions
  • Guadiana River boat trip

DAY ONE: Flight to Faro in Portugal and transfer to your hotel on Isla Canela in Spain for seven nights half board accommodation. The transfer takes around an hour, but you have to put your watches on an hour when you cross the Guadiana which is the border.

Coastal Western Andalucia is defined by its magnificent wetlands of marshes, shallow rivers and sand dunes. The largest is the Donana Natural Park formed in the delta of the Guadalquivir. Between here and the Portuguese border, smaller nature reserves surround the mouths of the Odiel and Piedras rivers near Huelva. On the border itself where your hotel is, the Rio Guadiana is the major influence on the ecosystem and feeds the marshes in both countries. Local flora and fauna is always a major attraction of any walk, and, given the abundance of birdlife in the area, one of the walks majors on the birdlife of the Rio Piedras.

DAYS TWO TO SEVEN: In resort with three included guided walks. There is plenty to do in your free time. The front of the hotel looks across to the thriving fishing village and marina of Punta del Moral. You can have a pleasant stroll around the harbour or take a little ferry ride across to Isla Cristina. There is also a short signed-posted walk near the hotel into the Isla Canela ‘Marismas’ (marshes). The rear of the hotel backs on to the promenade from where there are wooden boardwalks across the dunes to the beach and the sea which provide a heavenly environment for your morning constitutional. Walking past the inviting chiringuito (beach bar) might be difficult!

There is a frequent bus service which makes the 5-mile journey to Ayamonte on the Guadiana river. Ayamonte is a bustling ‘frontier’ town with a compact old centre, marina and port. The ‘frontier’ is the river and for under 3 euros you can get a return ferry across to the pretty town of Vila Real de San Antonio in Portugal. If you can find the time, a complimentary 1 ½ hour circuit of the hotel’s extensive spa facilities is included for you!

Walk 1: Alcoutim & the Guadiana River. We head across the river by coach to Portugal and north to Alcoutim (33 miles).The picturesque river town of Alcoutim has a Spanish twin right on the other side, Sanlucar de Guadiana. The circular walk goes along the river´s edge using the “Via Algarviana”, a trail that crosses the whole Algarve and then through reforested pine wood and Mediterranean oaks. 5.3 miles and ascent/ descent about 150m. You have time to visit the castle in Alcoutim and lunch before taking a lazy 3-hour boat cruise down the beautiful Guadiana river to Ayamonte.

Walk 2: The Rio Piedras and Flecha del Rompido Nature Reserve. 30-mile transfer to the beginning of your walk. You will need your binoculars today. You visit the marshes of El Rompido doing a level walk through the pinewood, the salt marsh and a fish farm. The area is full of birds and wildflowers and the headland where the lighthouse is located offers one of the most beautiful views of the estuary. This 5-mile walk ends in the attractive fishing village of El Rompido where there is plenty of free time for lunch. Or, bring a packed lunch and take a ferry trip on your own across to the 10-mile long sandspit and swim in the open sea. Several protected species live in the dunes of the singular sandspit in a special ecosystem: among others the Stone Curlew, Kentish Plover, Dartford Warbler and the European Chameleon. You return to the hotel by coach, arriving back at approx. 1630.

Walk 3: Donana & El Rocio. Travel east by coach past Huelva to the start of your walk in the Natural Park area of the Donana (67 miles). This walk is through pinewoods across the dunes to the sea – but dunes here aren’t quite what you think! They are ancient sand deposits rising to 100m offering great views of the sea and the pine forests behind. Just over 4 miles with ascent/descent of 75m. You then travel to the strange town of El Rocio (15 miles away), which seems like something out of the Tex-Mex West, with clapboard houses, sand covered squares and avenues and rails to tie your horse to! But this is no tourist movie set – in fact it is a major pilgrimage site. Your walking guide will take you on a short walk featuring the major sites of this fascinating town and there is free time for lunch here before returning to your hotel.

During your stay in Isla Canela there is also an optional excursion to the Rio Tinto Mines. There has been mining in the hills 80 miles north-east of Isla Canela for over 5000 years. In the museum in the town of Rio Tinto there is an excellent re-creation of the Roman mine. There is British influence in many parts of Spain but nowhere as pronounced than in this remote corner of Andalucia. The pinnacle of mining in the area began in 1873 with the arrival of the British Rio Tinto Mining Company Ltd who paid £3.68 million for the rights to exploit the disused copper mines. The company employed up to 20,000 men, laid 300km of rail track, built houses for employees and management, a Protestant church and a Social Club which had a cricket team and introduced football to Spain. The museum is housed in the company’s hospital and its offices are now the town hall. Highlight of the tour is the rail journey through the open cast mines where you’ll see an amazing ‘Martian’ landscape with the red (bright red!) Rio Tinto river running through it.

DAY EIGHT: Transfer back to Faro Airport for your flight home. You can put your watch back an hour after crossing the river.

Extend your holiday – extra week’s stay available in resort.

If you have friends who are not walkers interested in this itinerary, we also offer it with a touring programme.


The Guadiana River & Western Andalucia

Past Customer Satisfaction Score for this holiday* - 89%
* as measured from holiday questionnaires - see FAQ for details

HOTEL PLAYAMARINA SPA ****, Punta del Moral, Isla Canela (seven nights)
An excellent hotel in a quiet position located between the beach and the marina on Punta del Moral. The hotel has a buffet restaurant with show cooking, indoor and outdoor pool. There is also a spa (a free 1 ½ circuit is included for you), bar and entertainment on most evenings. Rooms have bath with shower over and separate shower and wc, hairdryer, LCD tv, air-conditioning, ceiling fan and safe (chargeable), terrace or balcony. Free Wi-Fi in reception (30 mins) – chargeable in room. (
Past Customer Satisfaction Score for this hotel* - 87%
*as measured from holiday questionnaires - see FAQ for details
Walking Holiday - The Guadiana River & Western Andalucia
Holiday code: 7WGR
Supplements per person:
Single Room: £140
Sea View Twin/Double Room: £50
Sea View Single Room (single supp applies): £50
Extra week: £270
Supplements on some holidays vary by departure date - the applicable price will be shown when booking.

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Prices shown include carriage of one piece of hold luggage per person (maximum size and weights vary). Prices include return transfers between airport and hotel and are based on the shared occupancy of twin/double standard rooms. Please refer to 'Accommodation' for details of any room supplements (including single rooms) and extended stay costs that apply to this holiday. All flight details are provisional and subject to confirmation when known. All holidays are subject to minimum numbers and are subject to availability. Further details in our FAQ.

Data as at 19/10/2019 at 18:47:07

Great holiday! We were met at the airport and escorted efficiently to the resort. The meeting was ok and we knew what was what and what options we had. We were pleased with the hotel, it is a good Spanish hotel with good Spanish food, and the room was good and the staff lovely. It was great to visit a less ‘Britified’ part of Spain. The walks were the right length and difficulty for us and the tie in with the tourists worked well. The guides were great, clearly enthusiastic and knowledgeable. Tour Director was lovely she was most attentive and couldn’t do enough for us. We have both walking/non-walking friends that we will be recommending Preferred Travel Services too. Thanks for a great holiday. I am sure we will be travelling with you again,

Mr & Mrs W, Dumbartonshire

Thank you for another lovely walking holiday – our third with Preferred Travel Services. On each occasion we found the booking and travel arrangements including hotel transfers have been efficient and completely trouble free. The hotels have all been very satisfactory and in pleasant resorts, and the walks themselves have been ideal for us – just hard enough to give a sense of achievement without ever feeling we were struggling. The walking guides have all been superb – efficient, helpful and friendly. Last year we learned so much about the history, flora and fauna of Portugal, and this year our guide had such knowledge and enthusiasm for birds that we all became avid twitchers. We always try to fit in as many optional excursions as possible, and these too have been most informative and enjoyable. We would certainly recommend Preferred Travel Services to our friends, and hope we’ll be able to take more walking holidays before too long.

Mr & Mrs W, Perth

Thank you for another excellent holiday. (This time The Guadiana,) congratulations to all those who conceived, researched and implemented this holiday. As for marks, I would give 5 (Full marks) across the board – except Concha who deserves 5+ for conducting the whole thing so effectively and amicably. On paper the walks looked somewhat tame but my wife and I found them quite testing and were pleased that we managed them. This was because of the extreme heat and the underfoot conditions – especially in the dunes. In the light of experience the (superb) guide had tweaked and stretched the walks a little. The optional excursions were very interesting too. Our next dilemma is to decide where to go next. Keep up the good work.

Mr and Mrs J, Manchester

Very enjoyable holiday with quality hotels and excellent representation and guides. I would recommend your tours to anyone. Many Thanks!

Mr H, North Yorkshire

My Friend and I were fortunate to go on the Guadiana River & Western Andalucia holiday in May this year I simply wanted to say what a fabulous, fabulous, guide we had. His enthusiasm for all things fauna and flora was stupendous, he was an absolute joy and we felt very priviledged to share his zeal.

Mrs N, W Yorkshire

We recently enjoyed a group holiday at Isla Canela. This is the third time we have been on a Preferred Travel Services walking holiday and once again we were rewarded with a wonderful experience. Right from the start at the airport and the bus from Faro to the hotel, everything went smoothly. Our rooms at the hotel were of a very high standard, the variety and quality of food was good and the staff were friendly and efficient. A mark of all three holidays has been the quality of the walk leaders. Once again our group were impressed with the knowledge and sensitivity of the guides. We would have no hesitation in recommending Preferred Travel Services Walking holiday to other groups.

Mr B, Caerphilly

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Don't forget, we fly from 20 airports right across the UK.
Most of our holidays include half board as standard.
All of our holidays have included visits and tours.

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The Guadiana River & Western Andalucia