Namibian desert off road driving
Cala Salada Beach
Surrounded by pine-forested hills, the sandy bed and turquoise waters of Cala Salada are among the most enticing on the island.
Surrounded by pine forested hills, the small, protected sandy cove of Cala Salada is a favourite for residents and private boat owners as no tourist ferries ever get here. The water is beautifully clear, shallow and perfect for swimming, and the sea bed mostly soft sand. This small beach gets very busy on summer weekends, with people often spread across the rocks (perfect for jumping from) which separate Cala Salada and neighbouring Cala Saladita.
On the rocky promontory to the right is a picturesque stone tower with paths leading over the top to the little fringe of sandy beach beyond (popular with naturists). To the left are boathouses built into the rock. Well trodden paths leading into the hills are popular for walks in this unspoiled area.
The Caves at Ses Fontanelles
These are famous for cave paintings dating back to the Bronze age. For the explorers amongst you, just before you reach the entrance to the bay, turn off to the right and drive up the camino (dirt track). You will have to park the car and continue on foot up the cliffs to the caves at Ses Fontanelles.
The walk is long, but the views from the cliffs are incredible. The caves are actually more of an overhang and are protected by iron bars, which means you unfortunately won’t see much of the cave paintings which date back to the Bronze age. However if you still have the energy, you can climb down the enormous stone steps to the sea, where you can bathe in complete privacy.
Soller, Mallorca Attractive rural town in the west of Majorca
Set in a lush valley of orange groves between the mountains and the sea, Soller is popular with day trippers who arrive on the vintage train from Palma and seem to do little but sit outside the cafes in Placa Constitucid soaking up the atmosphere and the sun. With several tapas bars, a fine selection of pastry-shops, local ice-cream and freshly squeezed orange juice, there is little temptation to move on.
Soller lies a couple of miles inland from its port, Port de Soller. There is a vintage tram that runs from the town to the port for those who don’t have a car. Soller hosts many fairs and festivals throughout the year – ones of note include the Apropa’t A L’Art (art weekend) and the Moros y Cristianos Fira & Firo in May.
A word of advice: if you are planning a day trip, come here by train from Palma, rather than car. There is a road tunnel on the Palma road (with a pretty steep toll, €4.70 each way April 2012) through the mountain if you do drive. The alternative is to drive up the Coll de Soller, with its 57 hairpin bends, one of the most twisty drives in Mallorca (although views from the top are pretty good!). It’s also very popular with cyclists who are not allowed through the tunnel and who seem to enjoiy the thigh-busting climb! The train journey is a delight, and passes through wonderfully scenic countryside. The train has real character and is an attraction in itself, so sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.
Things to Do in Soller
Many people come to Soller to enjoy “The Great Outdoors”. The surrounding countryside is so beautiful, it’s almost a crime not to be outside to enjoy it! Hiking is a major draw for visitors who are spoiled for choice when it comes to hiking trails. You can choose from coastal walks to heading deep into the Tramuntana mountain range.
The trails are well maintained and sign-posted. The famous ‘dry stone wall’ trail runs from Andratx in the south to Pollenca in the north of Mallorca, and is over 50km in length. Mountain refuges dot the trail so hikers have place places to stay en-route. Alternatively, use a local hiking guide such as Tramuntana Tours or Mallorca Hiking who can arrange all sorts of ways to discover the area.
Both road cycling and mountain biking are extremely popular ways of exploring the mountains around Soller. A guide for mountain biking is particularly recommended as much of the land in the area is privately owned. The roads from Soller up into the Tramuntana range provide great challenges for the road cycling enthusiast, with plenty of bends, ascents & descents. you can hire bikes and get information on cycling routes from Tramuntana Tours.
Tennis is a popular activity in Soller and there are public tennis courts at the Paddle & Tennis Club in the Argeles area of Soller (no website!). Shopping is not a major deal in Soller – there are a few gift shops and some lovely delicatessens.
Of course, being so close to the coast there are a heap of nautical activities to enjoy too. Boat trips up and down the coast start in Port de Soller and are a wonderful way to view the coastline with it’s majestic and dramatic scenery. If you are feeling more adventurous, you can charter a boat with or without a captain. It is also possible to SCUBA dive in the waters up and down the coast.
Port de Soller also has a couple of beaches if you prefer to take it easy, and the promenade is lined with cafes for refreshments. The beaches are quite small and narrow and do tend to be busy during the summer months. The sand is a little bit gravelly, but the sea is calm and shallow and fun to play in. Sun loungers and canoes are available for hire.
Soller has a number of satellite villages which are worth having a look at. Fornalutx has been voted the prettiest village in Spain and lies a couple of kilometres up the valley from Soller. En-route, you also have the chance to pass through Biniaraix, a tiny and sleepy hamlet.
Port Ginesta is located in Castelldefels, Catalonia, Spain. Just 10 minutes from Barcelona International Airport and 75 minutes from the French border, this modern marina offers 1442 moorings for boats up to 30 meters in length. This marina has the necessary infrastructure to meet the technical needs of the boats who moor there as it has covered dock, paint booth, 75Tn travelift and 8 tons crane. It also provides cleaning, antifouling, repair, winter storage, maintenance and repair of any type of boat, between others. Notably, other services such as 24 hour security, seamanship, gas station, laundry and WiFi. This marina has international certificates according to ISO 9001 and ISO 14001, which supports good environmental practices related to the sea and the environment.
Celles,Lac du Salagou
Celles is a commune in the Hérault department in southern France.The original village sits on the bank of Lac du Salagou. The French authorities are allowing this village to decay and all buildings except the town hall and the church are in ruins. It is a popular place for fishing and picnics.
Kite and Windsurfing in Frontignan
Frontignan Beach Languedoc-Roussillon
Frontignan Beach Languedoc-RoussillonThe small town of Frontignan is built along the western edge of the Ingril lagoon at the foot of the massif de la Gardiole north of Sète and the surrounding area offers pretty Mediterranean scenery, including roughly 800 hectares of vineyards where the famous Muscat de Frontignan wine has been made for over 2000 years. Numerous biking and walking trails allow visitors to discover the massif de la Gardiole and enjoy the views of the coastline from its summit, and a pleasant morning can be spent visiting the nearby village of la Peyrade. The 7km beach itself is quite urbanised and a mix of pebbles and sand which is regularly awarded for its cleanliness, and the lagoon is very popular with kite surfing enthusiasts. Close by, the marina is the starting point for cruises for fishing or scuba diving parties.
Grand Site De France. Saint -Guilhem de -Desert
In the South of France, in the heart of Languedoc and the Hérault gorges, the ‘Grand Site de FranceSaint-Guilhem-le-Désert – Gorges de l’Hérault’ main tourist attraction is one of Languedoc’s gems. It is thus no surprise that it has been awarded the ‘most beautiful villages of France’ label.
Set between vertiginous cliffs and stretching out along winding streets, Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert originally developed around Gellone Abbey, just a few kilometres from the Pont du Diable (Devil’s Bridge). Both are UNESCO World Heritage sites by virtue of their being on the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela. The Saint-Guilhem mountains and the Pont du Diable, are much appreciated by hikers and are perfect for discovering fantastic views and rare botanical species.
UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE
Abbaye de Gellone – Hérault, le Languedoc Photothèque Hérault Tourisme – Julie Noclercq The ‘Grand Site de France Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert – Gorges de l’Hérault’ (Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert – Hérault Gorges Major Tourist Attraction) is best-known for Gellone Abbey, founded by Charlemagne’s cousin, Guilhem. Extolled by troubadours during the Middle Ages, Guilhem became famous for his military campaigns against the Saracens. The hero of the siege of Barcelona in 803, he eventually decided to lay down his arms to become a monk. In 804, guided by Saint-Benoît d’Aniane, he founded a monastery in the isolated Gellone valley.
From the 10th century onwards, Guilhem was known as Saint-Guilhem and the spiritual importance of Gellone was further strengthened. The monastery became a privileged stopping place
along the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela.
At the beginning of the 11th century, reconstruction of the Abbey began. It is a symbol
of early Romanesque art in Languedoc.
The Abbey is also classed as a UNESCO World Heritage site by virtue of its position on the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela, as is the nearby Pont du Diable bridge, considered to be one of the oldest medieval bridges in France. It is situated at the extreme southern end of the Hérault gorges, at the point where they suddenly open out onto the plains of Languedoc.
The gorges offer a spectacular, steep and plunging rocky landscape. Reaching a depth of between 200 and 300 metres in places, they are home to a wealth of uniquely Mediterranean flora and fauna. When the weather turns warmer, kayaking down them is great fun, and the St-Guilhem mountains above make an equally great day out for hikers. From the village square, you can head off to discover some of these exceptional panoramas, as well as some rare botanical species, such as the Salzman pine.
For all these reasons and more, the ‘Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert – Gorges de l’Hérault’ site has been awarded the ‘Grand Site de France (Main Tourist Attraction) label. In 2012 the French people voted it their second favourite village.
Lac du Salagou
The Lac du Salagou is a large lake near to Clermont l’Herault in the Herault department of Languedoc Roussillon. Well known in the area for the vivid colours of the lake and its surroundings it is very popular for various water sports, walking and cycling.
The Salagou lake was created in 1968 when a barrage was erected across the river Salagou in order to allow a diversification of local agriculture and regulate the river Salagou which was very prone to flooding in autumn. The lake covers 750 hectares and has become a popular tourist spot.
The earth surrounding the lake is extremely rich in iron giving it its distinctive orange-red colour. This combined with the deep blue of the lake and the greens of the surrounding trees and fields forms a wonderful patchwork of colour which takes on different forms and combinations around each different curve of the lake.
It is possible to drive round the lake to see the many different views but if you have the chance use the ‘route forestiere’ to walk or cycle round the lake and really have the time to admire it. Unfortunately my trip in November didn’t allow me to capture on photo the wonderful colours that shine out in the sunshine usual to this part of France.
SalascIf you are driving to the lake pass first by Moureze to see the very different scenery of the Cirque de Moureze. Even if you haven’t time for one of the walks amongst the dolomites the drive from Moureze to Salasc on the southern side of Lake Salagou takes you through part of the dolomite-filled landscape.
Salasc like the other villages around the lake offers a pretty stopping point for lunch or a coffee if you have forgotten to bring a picnic to eat on the edge of the lake.
Continue around to the unusual village of Celles. Thought to be in the zone to be flooded the village of Celles was evacuated but the lake stopped short of the village.
Celles became a ‘ghost town’ though now its church and marie appear to have been renovated and contrast bizarrely with the surrounding abandoned houses whose roofs have collapsed and whose walls are gradually falling. Perhaps the village is in the process of being re-populated.
The views from the patio area in front of the renovated church and marie are very nice.
Cirque de Navacelles
The Navacelles cirque is located between the limestone plateaus of Le Larzac and Blandas, between the departments of Gard and Hérault, and is a listed Grand National Site, forming an impressive natural amphitheatre with its tall limestone cliffs. The beauty of the place can be fully appreciated from the panoramic viewpoints of La Baume Auriol and Blandas. At the centre of the cirque, the picturesque village of Navacelles is particularly photogenic, with its waterfall and spectacular environment.
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