Things to do on Costa del Sol: Selwo Aventura, Selwo Marina and the Benalmadena Cable Car will open their seasons with a completely new programme
Selwo Aventura, the nature, adventure and wildlife park in Estepona in the heart of the Costa del Sol, has drawn up a full programme with assorted novelties and surprises that will play out over the season. Ever since its opening in 1999 Selwo Aventura has been a remarkably dynamic park that has incorporated numerous new features, not just new species but also facilities and outstanding conservation and breeding programmes for endangered species. In Selwo Aventura births have occurred that are significant milestones in the conservation of wildlife species around the world such as the Bengal tiger, northern bald ibis, Angolan giraffe, red panda, emperor titi monkey, European bison, etc. And in 2008 the only birth of an Asian elephant in Spain occurred here.
Selwo Aventura, in Estepona on the the Costa del Sol, covers nearly one million square meters. Within this huge wild territory more than 2,000 animals from around the planet live in a state of semi-freedom and in conditions similar to their natural habitats. Visitors can observe, from very close quarters, the park’s fauna that lives in surroundings that have been perfectly designed for and adapted to the needs of each species.
Tours of this fascinating territory are by foot or perfectly conditioned off-road trucks over exclusive and comfortable routes that transport the visitor to different landscapes from Africa and other continents without leaving the Costa del Sol. Selwo Aventura also has various areas for rest and relaxation. The Portico of Nature, the first of Selwo Aventura’s routes, boasts leafy and well-tended tropical and sub-tropical vegetation. On this route is to be found the Tropical Forest (Bosque Tropical), a novel facility expressly designed to allow the visitor go inside it and take part in an educational discussion about different species that have their origins in this great tropical jungle and to see from close at hand, and without any kind of barrier, such representative Amazonian species as the pygmy marmoset, the smallest primate on the planet; the toucan, the iguana and the seriema. Different species of primates, exotic birds, Nile crocodiles, meercats, etc. also live in the Portico of Nature. In addition, it is the site of the Selwo Aventura nursery, where the visitor can see the young of various species, and the new gazelle and cheetah breeding facilities.
In the Central Village (Poblado Central) are to be the found the Bengal tiger facilities and the Night Cave (Gruta de la Noche), with nocturnal species such as the eagle owl, fruit bat and porcupine. Very close by, in the large territory known as the Lakes Reserve (Reserva de los Lagos), live the large land mammals such as the family of elephants made up of three adult specimens and the baby Kanvar—the only Asian 45 elephant to be born up until now in Spain—giraffes, white rhinoceros and other species representative of African and Asian wildlife. The Valleys Route (Ruta de los Valles) takes the visitor into a territory inhabited by such species as American and European bison, camels, elands, brown bears and lions. Bird Canyon (Cañón de las Aves, the largest natural aviary in Europe), with various species of birds, completes the Selwo Aventura routes.
Selwo Aventura stages various exhibitions, such as of serpents and birds of prey, and spectacular adventure activities: swinging bridges, dromedary rides, archery and Ziwa, the longest fixed Tyrolean traverse in Europe. If you wish you can extend your stay at Selwo Lodge, Selwo Aventura’s exclusive hotel that is made up of the Watu and Masai villages, with huts that replicate construction characteristic of the African continent. Each, however, has all the conveniences of a comfortable lodging accommodation, with double bedrooms, television, bathroom and air conditioning.
The Nature Classroom (Aula de la Naturaleza) and the Selwo Aventura campgrounds offer innovative environmental education activities for the younger set that are designed to foster respect for nature and wildlife. The Classroom and the campgrounds have the Kenya and Zulu villages, two options for spending a few days at Selwo Aventura.
Selwo Marina, in Benalmadena, boasts the only dolphinarium and penguinarium in Andalusia. This exclusive park transports the visitor to different South American scenes, ranging from the balmy Caribbean to the frigid Anctartic, enabling him to learn at first hand about its fauna and most charismatic exotic birds. In 2009 the park will offer new dolphin and sea lion exhibitions in the great “Las Antillas” (Antilles) Dolphinarium, as well as a totally updated bird show at “La Hondonada” (the Ravine) that will enable visitors to learn about the behaviour and natural flight of different exotic species such as toucans, cockatoos, macaws, African gray parrots, etc. Notable new features include various programmes for interacting with Selwo Marina species, such as the new option of swimming with sea lions to allow closer contact and greater knowledge about this large sea mammal.
Las Antillas, the Selwo Marina dolphinarium, is the only facility of this type in Andalusia, and allows visitors to study the life and behaviour of bottlenose dolphins and Patagonian sea lions. The large Selwo Marina dolphinarium complex is made up of five pools, and spacious bleachers for watching these sea mammal exhibitions in comfort. The exhibitions pool, the largest of them all, is a spectacular circular salt water tank with transparent front panels that allow closeup underwater observation of the intelligent bottlenose dolphins, natives of the warm Caribbean waters.
The starring role in “Amazonia” is the most legendary and charismatic of South American jungles, a habitat that is well represented with specimens of flora and fauna from the mighty River Amazon. A total of more than 800 animals, from nearly fifty different species, and forty plant species make up this habitat that transports us to the greatest of all tropical jungles, home to half the animal and plant species on the planet. This season this habitat includes the “Hormiguero de Amazonía” (Amazon Ant Den), an installation that is especially designed to show how leaf-cutting and pruning ants (Atta and Acromyrmex, other species that are native to this vast tropical jungle) live and behave both above and below the surface of the earth.
“Isla de Hielo” (Ice Island) boasts the first penguinarium in Andalusia, a frigid landscape populated by king, gentoo, Magellanic and rockhopper penguins. This is the most complete and representative penguin collection in any European zoo. The penguinarium facility has seen especially significant births, such as the first hatches of king and gentoo penguins on the Iberian Peninsula. This was a resounding success of the ESB (European Stud Book) programme that handles demographic information on these species.
The penguinarium faithfully recreates the natural habitat of these rare birds with temperatures that never rise above zero degrees centigrade in order to achieve environmental conditions similar to the frozen shores of the southernmost lands on the planet. This frigid home consists of a rocky peninsula covered by natural snow and encircled by a large pool of salt water. The facility is completely glassed in so that visitors can see from every angle how the penguins live, behave and move about, both in and out of the water.
The Benalmadena Cable Car (Teleférico Benalmadena) provides a spectacular ride in modern and comfortable cabins, each with room for six people, over a route that links Benalmadena Costa and the peak of Mount Calamorro. This is one of the highest points on the Costa del Sol at almost 800 meters above sea level, and besides viewing the exceptional scenery you can enjoy a full range of attractions for visitors of all ages.
The cable car route begins in Benalmadena, the site of the modern departure station where you can board one of the cabins and set out on a remarkable 15-minute, three kilometre journey to discover breathtaking views of the Costa del Sol. Along the way you will be afforded an incomparable panorama of Benalmadena and a unique perspective of the coast of Malaga. In addition, the slopes of Mount Calamorro offer an extensive display of the botanic wealth of this typically Mediterranean setting, with species of great ecological interest such as hemp agrimony, crimson rock rose, thyme, lilies, mint, Spanish lavendar and marjoram.
The journey ends at the Benalmadena Cable Car arrival station, 769 meters above sea level, but the adventure will not have ended yet as there is a full array of leisure activities on offer at the crest of Mount Calamorro. At Valle de las Águilas (Valley of the Eagles) there are daily exhibitions of the most iconic birds of prey, including falcons, eagles, owls, vultures, etc., that soar freely over a singularly beautiful natural landscape, with the Málaga sky and the Mediterranean as the backdrop. A number of perfectly marked trails on the mountain’s crest each lead to scenic overlooks that afford views of the Costa del Sol and the Sierra Nevada Mountains and, on clear days, Gibraltar and the coast of Africa.