The Devesa and the Albufera Natural Park - Sunshine & Deserted Beaches

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Friday 12 December 2014

The Devesa and the Albufera Natural Park - Sunshine & Deserted Beaches

When we arrived at Camping Coll Vert 6 miles south of Valencia last Saturday we had no idea that we'd be staying here for the entire week and having such a marvelously relaxing time as well. It feels like only yesterday that we made our busy trip into Valencia on the day we arrived here and since then most of the rest of the week has passed by with gentle simplicity as we've taken the time to explore the wonderful Albufera Natural Park right on our doorstep. Stepping out of our motorhome we were just a few hundred metres gentle stroll away from a long sandy beach marking the seaward edge of the park, one of the most important wetland areas on the Iberian Peninsula and home to the largest lake in Spain. (click here to see our Albufera Album on Google Plus)

Although the Albufera Natural Park is relatively small (a little more than 10km long) it encompasses a wonderful lagoon separated from the sea by the Devesa, a system of sand dunes bursting with wildlife. Popular for fishing and settlements since prehistoric times the area survived relatively unchanged right up until the 1970s when developers moved in to exploit the Spanish tourist boom. However, as the damage to the Devesa became apparent so swiftly all development was then halted in 1980 and the Valencia City Council immediately began conservation and restoration work. 

The result today is a beautiful beach, dune system and inland lake that unlike much of the eastern coast of Spain contains just a small handful of apartments at various points and feels relatively unspoiled. Split into 5 different zones (beach, seaward dunes, dune slacks, inland dunes and lagoon shore), the Devesa is home to more than 400 different plant species plus hundreds of birds, insects and mammals. It is a stunningly beautiful place and we feel very lucky to have stopped so nearby. 

Our first exploration of the park was last Sunday when we set off on our bikes to meander southward through the dunes to see what we could find. As the quiet cycle paths alternated between the sandy shores and the CV500 road which cuts through the park, we paused in a busy layby by the lake shore along with dozens of Spanish sightseers to admire the wild birds entertaining the crowds (and giving Esther a great opportunity to try out her new camera). Riding on a little further we made our way back into the dunes and discovered a secluded access path to the beach, arriving on the sand to find a deserted beach stretching for around 5km in both directions. To the north we could make out the tiny silhouettes of people wandering closer to the few apartment buildings near El Saler with the bulk of Valencia beyond. To the south, nothing. Just endless sand, shells and seabirds as far as we could see. Needless to say we headed south.

Walking on the beach of the Devesa that day was almost a meditative experience. The near perfect seclusion with just the sound of the sea lapping at the shore was hypnotic and we walked in blissful relaxation. It was perfect. So perfect in fact that I decided to do something I had never done before and go for a skinny-dip in the bright blue Mediterranean sea. Very bracing! 

Once dressed again we continued to let our feet walk slowly south until we reached the very edge of the Natural Park and turned round to retrace our sandy footprints all the way back to our bikes. Although it was only our second day we decided right there that we would stay for the rest of the week (helped only partly by the 7 nights for the price of 6 offer at Camping Coll Vert).

Since that first beach walk we have made our way to the sandy shores of the Mediterranean every day except for Tuesday when we once again made our way into Valencia. We have returned to that same secluded spot on the beach on Monday and Friday and trying different parts of the beach on other days. We've watched the sun set over the western hills from the sand and ridden our bikes up and down the traffic free cycle paths of the Devesa. We've also had the opportunity to enjoy a huge variety of wildlife, photographing all manner of sea and freshwater birds, sharks eggs and bright flowers that fill this protected dune system. (Sadly we can't put all of these wonderful photos on one post, but you can click here to see our Albufera Album on Google Plus - We are still just learning how to use the camera so for anyone into photography please judge kindly). 

Every time we have entered the Natural Park we have found something new to appreciate and with bright blue skies and sunshine each day since we arrived it is certainly difficult to move on from this idyllic strip of nature. Although we will soon be heading south to seek out more secluded beaches and a quiet base for Christmas (as camping Coll Vert is closing) we both already feel sure that we will be making a return trip here when we make our way northwards in the New Year.

UPDATE: On our return journey we couldn't resist stopping off at this haven of peace and tranquility once more.  Click here for more pictures and details of our walks during our 4 day stay.....

1 comment

  1. love the photos and wish I was there


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