Lake Viñuela is set in the stunning landscape of the Axarquia in Malaga province. Less than an hour’s drive from Malaga International Airport, La Viñuela is a very popular destination for those who hope to enjoy the unspoiled beauty of Andalusia. It has also been chosen by many Spanish and foreigners alike to become their home, enjoying life in its beautiful surroundings. This idyllic spot attracts writers, artists, photographers and those who just take pleasure in the countryside in one of the best year-round climates in Europe.
Lake Viñuela is a man-made reservoir that not only provides much-needed water for the surrounding area but has also been instrumental in creating a picturesque landscape within an already glorious rural locale. Prior to the creation of the reservoir, extensive archaeological excavations were carried out, producing evidence of Neolithic and Roman settlements, demonstrating the longevity of this area’s historic legacy.
The lake was formed by a dam being built across the Guaro River, one of the two tributaries of the Vélez River that run through the area. The other tributary is aptly named RíoSeco (Dry River), because there are many months here without rainfall. At full capacity the reservoir can hold up to 170 million cubic metres of water and the surrounding lush pastures allow for thriving agriculture based on its olive groves, its vineyards and its cereal crops.
There are a number of small pretty beaches around the lake, that make this the ideal place for a family outing. Pine trees add to the sense of tranquillity and give you a feeling of being at one with nature, while they provide the perfect habitat for many different species of birds.
Picnic areas have been set out, complete with barbeque facilities strategically facing south, giving the visitor the best views across the placid waters. There is also a campsite near the lake.
Swimming and non motorised watersports are permitted. There is a watersports activity center where, in the summer, you can rent or recieve sailing tuition on colourful topper dingies, kayaks, water pedalo, small sailing dingies. It is located of A-402 on the lake shore just north of Hotel Vinuela.
Named after the white village of the same name, the lake has become a focal point of the area. La Viñuela Pueblo (Village) was named after the vines that still produce the excellent local sweet wine. The village was a favourite stopping place for travellers on horseback when journeying between the coast and Granada during the 18 th century, the famous wine being its main attraction.
Gastronomy in La Viñuela area
The local olive oil is famed for its quality and is used in the preparation of most local dishes. Cold soups are incredibly refreshing as well as nourishing. Try the tomato-based gazpacho or the ajoblanco, (garlic soup). Meat is often cooked in savoury stews with potatoes and vegetables. At many local inns (ventas) around the area, there is often local game on the menu such as rabbit (conejo), kid (choto) or wild boar (jabalí). Tripe (callos) is a popular dish in Periana, as well as excellent sweets. Look out for the salads and other dishes using the local avocado (aguacate) in Benamargosa, where the gazpacho is also particularly good. In Riogordo you might want to sample the snails (caracoles) often cooked in a piquant sauce.
The famous sweet wine of the region is excellent and somehow tastes even better when accompanied by the local food and in a traditional country inn. However, it is also highly recommended to buy some to take home to revive the memories of this lovely part of the Andalusian countryside.
Art and Crafts
Hand made items crafted from esparto grass is a specialty of La Viñuela and the whole Axarquia area. Baskets, mats and many other imaginative objects are traditionally fashioned as they have been for centuries. Saddles, bridles and other leather items are also made in many of the villages, especially in Riogordo. For cane furniture, there is a workshop in Alcaucín where it has been made for many years.
The famously healthy Mediterranean diet is based on fresh healthy produce and the traditionally produced olive oil. When you do have to leave this lovely area, take some of the local olive oil home with you. A litre or two of the best from La Viñuela’s best virgin olive oil may last until you are able to return.
Recently declared as best rural hotel in the province of Málaga, it is located right in the heart of la Axarquia, beside the reservoir of La Viñuela and at the foot of the Sierra Tejeda mountain range. The air-conditioned rooms at the hotel feature elegant décor and include satellite TV, phone, minibar and safe.