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  Spain Travel Guide
Fuengirola - Popular Beach Resort on the Costa del Sol in Spain    by Anne Sewell

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You might have already visited Fuengirola in summer (July/August) - too many people, burning summer heat? Time to replan your Spanish holiday!

The ideal time to visit this vibrant coastal city is during autumn and spring. Mild and pleasant temperatures, glorious sunshine, and quieter streets and beaches make for a really enjoyable holiday! You will find people smile just that little bit easier, shopping and dining are an absolute pleasure, and you can enjoy all the attractions this city has to offer in comfort.  At the time of writing, it is almost mid December, and the sun is warm and pleasant outside!

Wonderful sandy beaches, relatively empty out of season, stretch along the coast with many restaurants, bars and chiringuitos (beach cafes) to choose from. Plenty of good shops including fashion, food, shoes, etc. and some excellent new shopping centres have opened up on the border of Fuengirola and Mijas.

Fuengirola is very convenient to Malaga airport - a short drive or train ride away, and is also close to Marbella and other attractions on the Costa del Sol (also known as the Costa del Golf for golfing fans!)

Other major attractions in Fuengirola include:

The Fuengirola Zoo:

Right in the middle of town is an oasis of calm, a world class zoo with wonderful animals in very natural enclosures. Appropriate regional sounds play as you walk around the various areas of the zoo. Of particular interest are the Sumatra Tigers, the gorillas, and also the Lemur enclosure, with many of these fascinating creatures from Magagascar. This enclosure is open with a tour guide at certain times of the day - ask when you arrive at the zoo for a close up experience with magical lemurs. Best time to visit is either early morning (zoo opens at 10 am) or late afternoon.

The Sohail Castle:

On a hilltop, close to the centre of town is the Sohail Castle. Makes a pleasant stroll (if a bit uphill), with wonderful sea views from the top.

Fuengirola Port:

The port of Fuengirola consists of two sections:

1. A working fishing port where it is fascinating to watch the fishermen offloading their catches from the boats - you can also take a pleasant stroll around the port from this point and look at the many boats moored in the port, and also magnificent mountain views.

2. A leisure boat marina, with many attractive yachts and other boats. In this area are several pubs and restaurants, and also enjoyable boat trips are on offer, including sailing and speed boats and glass bottomed boats for viewing the dolphins.

A point of interest ... Fuengirola was privileged to have the rumble of 10-15000 Harley-Davidson motor cycles in June 2007.  The 16th Annual European HOG Rally was held at the fairgrounds in Fuengirola with an amazing array of different motor cycles, plus Harley clothing and items for sale.  The Rally ran from 21 June  2007 to 24 June 2007 - with the finale being a parade on the Sunday, when all the thousands of Harleys left the fairgrounds simultaneously and toured the town.

Another interesting piece of information is that Fuengirola is probably the most multi-cultural town in Spain, with many nationalities represented.  Each year the Feria Internacional de los Pueblos (International Feria) is held, where you can sample the food and culture of these many nationalities in the fairgrounds, view traditional dancing and folk items, and enjoy a wonderful and colourful parade in the countries' traditional dress.

So come and visit Fuengirola and enjoy our city in the so called "off season"! You won't regret it, and will have a wonderful holiday!


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Fuengirola Zoo - An Oasis of Calm in the Centre of Town 

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When visiting the Costa del Sol in Andalucia, Southern Spain, a must-see destination is the Zoo in Fuengirola.

Located right in the centre of town, the zoo is a beautiful and calm place, beautifully designed to give its residents space and realistic natural habitats to live in, grow and produce their young.

History of the Zoo

The zoo originally opened in the 1970's, as a typical zoo, with awful cages and fenced enclosures for the animals.  Living conditions were unspeakable and left a lot to be desired.  In December 1998, Rain Forest took over the contract to operate the zoo and completely redesigned the property using the latest “full immersion zoo” concept.  The property is actually relatively small, so they chose to use a “tropical forest” ecosystem for the whole of the property - very suitable with the sub-tropical vegetation in the area.

They set out to create an environment embracing the tropical rainforests of Madagascar, Southeast Asia and Equatorial Africa, including rivers and waterfalls, caves, valleys, trees and rocks.  As the property is small, subterranean stables were built for the animals to sleep and also raised gardens were erected around the property to block off the nearby buildings - making the zoo a different world within the busy seaside city.

Breeding of endangered species

Once everything was in place, the animals were introduced to their wonderful new habitat.  Breeding of endangered species now successfully occurred - particularly with the chimpanzees..  Although the zoo had been breeding chimps from the outset, in the past there was a great deal of infanticide, as conditions were so unnatural.  For the first time they could walk on grass, touch plants, run, play hide-and-seek… for the first time they could behave like chimpanzees. 

With the introduction of the new zoo, many of the animals are now successfully breeding - not only the chimps, but also the Bornean Orang-utans, the Sumatran Tigers, the lemurs from Madagascar, Pygmy Hippopotamus and the Blue Duiker are all examples of animals that now successfully breed their young in this new environment.

It is truly wonderful to see the baby animals, and their parents so happy and proud.  Although I am normally against zoos as a whole, seeing endangered species flourishing is truly a heart warming experience.

A stroll around the zoo

As you enter the zoo, staff will take your photo, as a memento of your visit.  You will then calmly stroll around the shady environment, with tropical sounds appropriate to each section playing through the trees.  It is easy to imagine that you are actually in the tropical jungles of Africa or Asia! 

There are aviaries of beautiful birds, waterholes with various buck and birds including beautiful flamingos and their young, sharing the space, and of course the more famous animals in the zoo - the Gorilla, the Sumatran Tigers and leopards!  Also worth a visit are the Orang-utans  - they have recently produced a cute youngster, and the mother endlessly shows off her baby to visitors, and also delights in posing for you - she definitely has a great sense of humour, and I have managed to take some amazing shots of her!

The chimps are also enchanting to watch, and currently have youngsters too.  The golden cheeked gibbons are also beautiful - the male of the species being black and the female a beautiful golden colour.  Currently their baby is also golden, but as it is a male, it will eventually turn black like Dad.

Make sure you visit the Nile crocodiles - scary looking creatures, but luckily the viewing glass is very thick! 

The highlight of the visit, in my opinion, is the Madagascar enclosure - habitat of the lemurs, where every 30 minutes you can take a tour to visit these gorgeous and friendly creatures.  Entrance to the enclosure is through a very realistic baobab tree - created for the zoo - you can really imagine that you are in Africa when you step inside this hollow tree on the way to the lemurs!

Another highlight is the regular Forest Clearing Exhibitions, where you can enjoy a commentary on various animals in the zoo, and see exhibits.  In summer, during July and August, try and visit the zoo at night for an amazing experience  as the animals come to life after sleeping in the heat of the day - concluding with a dinner in the heart of the jungle!  Currently they are running a special African evening, with African dancing and a tasty meal.

In conclusion:

All in all, Fuengirola zoo is a zoo in continuous evolution and it is difficult to include everything about this wonderful place in one article.   However, it is important to know that the zoo is involved in 35 European endangered species breeding programmes and also collaborates on a variety of international projects to save, in situ, the planet's endangered forest zones.  Please give generously to the various projects as you visit the zoo and have a wonderful visit!  You will be back (I've visited 8 times and I LIVE in Fuengirola! 

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About the Author:  Anne Sewell  is involved in web based accommodation reservations and advertising in Fuengirola, Spain. Visit All Spain Rural Accommodation


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Latest update: May 11, 2012