NEW YORK -- Although the Andalucia region of Spain is best known for its big cities --such as Granada, Cordoba and Seville -- the rural areas also offer a wide range of attractions, particularly for outdoor enthusiasts.

Areas suitable for cycling, trekking, horseback riding and fishing abound, and many are located surprisingly near the popular tourist spots.

In Cordoba, for example, cyclists can ride near Hornachuelos along the shores of the Bembezar River. Sharp-eyed travelers can spot several species of unusual flora and fauna along the route, which encompasses a nature park.

Several cycling trails in the Granada area incorporate routes through the Sierra Nevada Nature park.

Other cycling suggestions include the western Sierra Morena region, which features mountainous terrain and sharp grades, as well as the pilgrimage routes along the Huelva Plain.

Hiking trails are plentiful in the Cabo de Gata-Nigar Nature Park in the province of Almeria as well as in the Sierra de Maria-Los Velez Nature Park.

Wetlands enthusiasts might want to try a hiking route along the Adra Lagoons in the Almeria region, where waterfowl live among the reeds.

Donana National Park, a protected area of Arroyo de la Rocina, also abounds in wildlife. This itinerary is especially suited to bird-watchers, who can catch glimpses of a number of aquatic species.

For a more strenuous climb, the Pico de la Sagra, or Sacred Peak, can be reached in about six hours from Puebla de Don Fadrique in the Granada area.

For a change of pace, forest walks are available near Malaga, in the Sierra de las Nieves Nature Park. The area boasts Spanish fir trees and other high-elevation vegetation.

Horseback riding also is popular in the Andalucia region. Near Seville, riders can see the sights in the Donana National Park, the Aljaraque Hills and the El Rocio area, for example.

Equestrians also can ride what is known as the Bull Route in the Cadiz area, where wild bulls roam in large number.

Riding enthusiasts can visit the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art in Jerez de la Frontera, also in Cadiz. There visitors can observe the performing horses in training.

Beach lovers can ride along the coast in the Malaga region or take part in the annual international equestrian fair in Fuengirola, set for early October.

Tourist Office of Spain
Telephone: (212) 265-8822 in New York
(213) 658-7188 in California
(312) 642-1992 in Chicago
(305) 358-1992 in Miami
(888) OK-SPAIN
Web: www.okspain.org

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