Historic Andalucia tour, Spain

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08 Oct 2016
£ 1069
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22 Oct 2016
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29 Dec 2018
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Holiday type

Small group holiday

Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modelled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, travelling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. If you’re heading off on a gap year your, perhaps – but for those with a two-week holiday, a small group tour will save valuable planning time.

The leaders are not guides – they’re not there to shepherd you around. Instead, they’ll let you know which local restaurant serves great value food – without running the risk of travellers’ tummy. They’ll allow you to avoid hour-long queues at train stations and attractions.

We like to think of small group travel as the Goldilocks option. It is independent travel without the fuss, worry and bunk beds – and organised travel without the coaches. And it’s cheaper than a tailor made tour. It’s sits somewhere in the middle – and we think it’s just about right.

What are the main benefits?
Big experiences
Have big, life-enriching experiences that would be impossible to organise without lots of time and insider knowledge.

Simplicity
Make the most of your holiday time by letting someone else do the hard work and boring logistics!

Peace of mind
Small group tours take care of the security aspects – and provide a safety net should anything unexpected happen.
Who is it ideal for?
Travellers who are short of time
If you don’t have three months to spend exploring, small groups trips let you cover more ground in less time. Your days are not spent queuing for tickets or finding hotels – so you can squeeze more into your holiday.

Solo travellers who’d like company
Likeminded travel companions plus peace of mind for those travelling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.

Less confident travellers
Stray from the tourist trail without worrying about getting lost, and meet local people without dealing with the language barrier.
Mythbuster
“I won’t get any privacy!”
Couples and friends have private rooms, and you can choose to eat alone or not. Single supplements give solo travellers their own room.

“There won’t be any free time”
Free mornings or afternoons let you explore on your own, or just relax.

“The accommodation will be basic”
Trips are as high or low end as you like. Though off the beaten track destinations won’t have luxury hotels, this is all part of the adventure.

“I won’t like the other travellers!”
Tour operators try to create groups with a similar demographic – age, families, activity levels... Chances are, you’ll even make new friends.

“Will we be following an umbrella?”
No.
Valerie Parkinson
Meet a group Leader
Name: Valerie Parkinson

Story: The first British woman to climb Manaslu, Valerie climbed Everest for her 50th birthday. She’s spent fourteen Christmas Days trekking to Everest Base Camp, and is involved insetting up Responsible Tourism initiatives in the Himalayas.
Roshan Fernando
Meet a local guide
Name: Roshan Fernando

Story: Roshan has led over 130 trips – he adores showing travellers around Sri Lanka. He won the company Leader Award in 2010, but his career highlight was working on their Tsunami Project – which earned him a responsible tourism award.

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Historic Andalucia tour, Spain

Accommodation and meals:
Although just an hour or two from the Costas, the tiny village of Algamitas is virtually untouched by tourism and the ‘Cortijo Rosario’ is the only tourism venture in the village. This family-run farmhouse employs several people from the village and all food provided is homemade using locally produced and sourced goods wherever possible. The house is situated in 30 acres of woodland, open farm space and olive, fruit and almond trees so sometimes ingredients may even be sourced from the garden. Maria, who runs the kitchen, will also offer a paella cooking lesson so that clients are really able to immerse themselves in the culinary culture of Spain and to take some of what they learned home with them.

Local Craft and Culture:
The surrounding village cafes and bars all benefit from our visits. Set amongst the olive groves and hills of central Andalucia, Spain's poorest region, we get a real taste of the local lifestyle, as different from the ‘popular image’ of the South of Spain as could be. Clients are encouraged to explore local markets and small businesses where meals are not provided as in this area, a lot of olives, cereal and sunflowers are produced. This is a good way to support agriculture but there are also areas which are good for handicraft shopping e.g. Setenil is also a good place to buy ceramics and other local crafts.

Activity:
Many of our days on this tour are spent walking around at a leisurely pace, sightseeing and getting to know the grounds of Cortijo Rosario and Algamitas, all environmentally friendly activities. By using local transfers on the trip, we can support local people and increase demand for employment in the area. We also make a positive impression by visiting a number of cultural and historical sites. Here, our entry fees contribute to the maintenance and restoration going on e.g. Alhambra, Giralda and the Palacio Nazaríe.

UK Office:
It all starts at home so we have first worked at reducing our carbon footprint in our UK Offices. Through energy conservation measures and recycling policies, we are proud to be actively reducing the waste produced and our impact on the environment. We support various projects all over the world to try and give something back to the places we visit.

Group Size:
This small group tour has a maximum of 16 participants, meaning that we have a low impact on the environments and communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. The small number also allows us to stay in unique, family-run hotels that cannot benefit from coach tours and other mass tourism due to their limited sizes.

Reviews of Historic Andalucia tour, Spain

You can trust Responsible Travel reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the holidays.

I am reborn! Simply the best holiday I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
Very enjoyable
It was OK
A bit disappointing really

Reviewed on 24 Apr 2013 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The most memorable part was the visit to the Cordoba Mezquita. I would like to mention that a few of us returned to Cordoba on our free day as the Mezquita was closed on the Tuesday that was scheduled as part of the itinerary. This was the week of Semana Santa and the general feeling in the group was that the dates and times of the closures should have been obtained and the days outings changed accordingly. We were unable to enter the Seville cathedral for the same reason. This was a huge negative for me.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Encourage the guide to start the days outings earlier - there is a distance to travel each day and if the departure is late there is not enough time to explore the cities or villages.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


It did benefit the small village of Algamitas as the Cortigo Rosario staff live there. We also spent time in the village at restaurants etc.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


The attitude of the hosts at the Cortigo Rosario was disappointing. We were welcomed by them on arrival, but never interacted with them again. We would arrive back from a long day away and would then have to light the fire - it would have been so welcoming to return to a roaring fire! There were problems (leaking roof etc) experienced at the Cortigo and their reaction was not the best. The Cortigo obviously needs maintenance to be done and if this is not done to an acceptable standard, the guests will not be satisfied. This will be a pity as this place has so much potential.

Reviewed on 03 Jan 2007 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Some of the views of lovely Spanish countryside. Swimming in 4 degrees swimming pool on Xmas Day.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Take warm clothes as both weather and accommodation were cold.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


No: most of the food was from international supermarkets (e.g. Lidl) and vegs were frozen. There was no general ethos to recycle apart from token notices from the tour company. I don't think this holiday deserves to be publicized by Responsible Travel.

Read the operator's response here:

Cortijo Rosario use as much local produce as possible in their meals, which I saw on my last visit in March this year. Most is bought from local markets rather than any large supermarkets but there are always going to be certain items that cannot be found in the markets. Also we must appreciate that most produce is seasonal so certain seasons, (especially winter time), will not have as large a selection.

They have employed local staff for many years and they are installing solar panels to save on energy. I sincerely believe our local operator is doing all he can to ensure our tours are run responsibly. Thank you for your comments and we will continue to monitor how things are run locally.

Reviewed on 17 Jun 2006 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The food, the accommodation and the wonderful company. Those beautifully warm evenings sitting together eating al fresco will stay with us forever.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


You need to be physically fit and used to walking in high temperatures. It was very hot during our week and we struggled on some of the walks but due mostly to the heat. However, we are not young so younger travellers may find this not a problem!!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Without a doubt. The location of the Cortijo is quite rural with only a few villages nearby. Therefore we needed to use the facilities in the village, the shops, café’s bars and banks. However, there was also a need to respect the local culture that is very different to ours (England) The locals live very traditional Spanish lifestyles and whilst they welcomed us into their village, there was a need for us to blend into their environment rather than intrude.

Reviewed on 26 Nov 2005 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The whole experience was excellent, but the friendly welcome at the Cortijo along with the chance to eat typical Spanish food and experience the true culture of Andalucia. Our guide spoke fluent Spanish and really understood the local area and the culture which made the holiday that extra bit special

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


You don't need very dressy clothes and perhaps to read upon the Moors and their time in Andalusia would help to understand the complex history of Cordoba, Sevilla and Ronda. Even though this isn't the full walking tour you need to be reasonably fit as there is still a fair amount of walking up and down hills and steps!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


The Cortijo employs all its staff from the local village and wherever possible purchases everything from the local village and surrounding area. The mid day meals on the first three days are take in local restaurants. Care is taken to recycle where ever possible.

4. Any other comments?


We would both star it at 4* and we are getting fit to enable us to do the full walking tour of Andalucia.

Reviewed on 22 Oct 2005 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Visiting the Mezquita in Cordoba is something I've been dreaming of for 12 years, so was a very special moment for me. Was a lot of fun walking through Ronda in the pouring rain! Actually, most memorable part would have to be the warmth of the hospitality at the Cortijo Rosario - such a beautiful place in the peace of the countryside.

What better way to start the day than to wake up and look out my window of the villa to the surrounding hills and olive groves. Wonderful people, wonderful meals and hospitality. Tour Leader, Andy, was fantastic and as a first time traveller, and my first tour it has given me the confidence to continue travelling and am very happy to book again through this tour company in the future. This tour was exactly what I hoped it would be, if not more...the Cortijo was so lovely I didn't want to leave! Lovely memories, had a wonderful time! (I think thats enough gushing for now...)

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Take a rain jacket, you just never know what the weather might do... You definitely won't go hungry at the Cortijo.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Definitely, and I benefited from being around the local people who worked at the Cortijo and being able to enjoy traditional, home style spanish cooking, all made from scratch.

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