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Only a few miles east of Grenada, the Canales Reservoir is a relatively new lake in the Andalusia Region of Spain. The new reservoir is a refreshing treat in this arid region and has alleviated the seasonal flooding that so often threatened the towns along the Genil River. The new reservoir, called Embalse de Canales, provides a reliable supply of drinking water to the region. Much-needed hydroelectric generation adds to electric capacity for development purposes. As with most such progress, there were some losses, such as the old town of Canales and a popular railroad trail being covered by the rising water. But the area is adapting well to its new-found water wealth; the area surrounding the reservoir is becoming increasingly popular with hikers and cyclists enjoying the many paths around the lake.
Canales Reservoir lies at the foot of the northwest slopes of the Sierra Nevada, at the edge of the Sierra Nevada National Park. Already popular with hikers and winter skiers, the reservoir adds yet another dimension of outdoor enjoyment for holiday-makers to the Grenada region. The southern slopes of the Sierra Nevada end at the Mediterranean Coastal Plain - already a popular vacation destination. The small towns near the reservoir maintain a generations-old Spanish flavor and are developing into holiday destinations. Here visitors will experience a delightful mix of ethnic markets and eateries, holiday villas, and arrangements for hiking and cycling tours amid lush gardens of flowers and herbs. The sunshine is nearly continuous, the weather bordering on hot. Only a few miles away, among the high peaks of the Sierra Nevada, the climate is alpine, and the ski areas are some of the finest in Europe.
Little development has occurred along the actual shoreline of Canales Reservoir to date. The artificial lake fills a rugged mountainous valley, thus the shoreline is very steep. As a new reservoir, the development of a fishery is progressing. Chub and barbel are caught, along with a species referred to as boga, usually referring to an ocean fish but likely a local name for something more familiar. Both the Canales Reservoir and the Genil River are popular with canoeists and kayakers as they wind their way between picturesque rock formations and towering cliffs. An amazing amount of wildlife is learning to call Canales home. Some lakeside villas have launching facilities and advertise sailing opportunities. There are no organized public swimming facilities, but opportunities for shallow bathing waters can be found among the small coves. One favorite hiking/cycling path follows an old tramway route along the reservoir for a considerable distance and includes old tunnels and bridges remaining from the tram route. There are a variety of ruins of former villas and farmsteads near the reservoir, which are a delight to photographers and students of history.
Guejar-Sierra is the only town of any size along the Canales Reservoir. Guejar has been catering to holiday-makers since long before the reservoir was constructed. A main route into the Sierra Nevada leaves from Guejar, making it a main stop for visitors to the national park. Many of the houses in Guejar are made from the abandoned sleeper cars of the former tramway, with flower boxes on the windows filled with a glorious profusion of blossoms. Buses run from Granada to Guejar several times daily, making it easily accessible to visitors. Housing in the area has increased rapidly in the past few years, with many newer villas, townhouses and holiday apartments offering lodging for visitors. The views are terrific, the locals friendly and helpful. During the skiing season, Guejar is filled with ski visitors who often make the town their home-base for a week or two of skiing.
At the western end of Canales Reservoir, the massive dam presents an imposing sight. Unfortunately the Government of Spain does not make reservoir, dam and hydroelectric statistics publicly available. A paved path across the dam provides views of the lake and the surrounding mountains and is a favorite of cyclists. The city of Grenada is only eight miles farther west and provides examples of some of southern Spain's most elaborate Moorish architecture. The Alcazaba de la Alhambra is an excellent example of a Moorish Castle, actually a small city in itself. The Museo Arqueologico y Etnologico holds spectacular exhibits of cultures that inhabited Spain prior to 1492. The city of 500,000 also offers art museums, beautiful churches, a variety of excellent eating establishments and many venues to watch various flamenco performances. Grenada still has a large gypsy population from which many of Spain's best flamenco guitarists, dancers and singers have emerged. Traditionally the gypsies inhabit cave homes on the Sacromonte hill. Bullfights are held from March to November. Grenada also has a variety of holiday lodging choices from which to choose, including hotels, inns, villas, holiday lets and guest houses.
An ideal Andalusian holiday would be to spend a few days touring Grenada then move on to Guejar and Canales Reservoir. Spend some time canoeing the lake and exploring the Genil River. Take a trip into the Sierra Nevada for hiking, spectacular views, and perhaps some skiing. Make sure to take plenty of photographs as you will be leaving a piece of your heart on the shores of the Embalse de Canales.
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