In a world where Covid-19 is the biggest threat to travel and tourism, it is refreshing to discover places which provide some form of security against the virus. The region of Andalusia in Spain is such a place, offering travel assistance insurance to all non-resident international travellers throughout 2021.
The insurance covers the basics such as medical, surgical and hospital costs along with repatriation, transportation and extended stay costs. There are excesses involved of course, but as the insurance is free, that doesn’t feel like too much to ask. Best of all is the peace of mind of knowing that if Covid-19 should strike, everything is in hand financially for treatment, recovery and returning home.
With this in mind, it’s worth considering Andalusia as a destination for those who are active, adventurous and open to education.
In recent years, Andalusia has become an outstanding place for engaging in a huge variety of sport. The region is well-known for its golf courses – over a hundred of them, including several that have played host to international competitions. Equestrian sports are also commonly found in the region – Andalusian horses have a rich heritage and are well-regarded in equestrian circles for their calm temperament, agility and intelligence.
It will come as no surprise that water sports feature heavily along the almost 1000km of coastline with its famous beaches bordering two seas separated by the Straits of Gibraltar. The balmy Mediterranean to East and the tempestuous Atlantic to the West provide endless possibilities at all levels for yachting or water skiing, scuba diving or kite- or wind-surfing and more.
What may not be as well-known is that Andalusia has several mountainous regions which offer many adrenaline sports from skiing to mountaineering and spelunking to zip lines – including the only cross-border zip line, a full 720m long into Portugal.
The mountains contain just one of the many natural parks throughout Andalusia, all of them with hidden tracks and trails winding through glorious landscapes with vastly differing micro climates. Mountain and beach sit alongside warm wetlands, dry desert, rainy woodland and sub-tropical paradise with all of the diverse flora and fauna these areas support.
Often-overlooked, Andalusia has rich cultural significance with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designating seven sites in the region as World Heritage sites.
Most of the cultural sites are located in the three great Muslim centres of power: Granada, Seville and Cordoba; as well as Ubeda and Baeza.
These are Alhambra, Generalife and Albayzín (Granada); Cathedral, Alcázar and Archivo de Indias (Seville); the Historic City Centre of Cordoba (including the Mezquita); the Renaissance Monumental Ensembles of Úbeda and Baeza; 68 items of cave art in Almeria, Granada and Jaen provinces, which is included in Rock Art of the Mediterranean Basin on the Iberian Peninsula; and Madinat al-Zahra.
There is a natural World Heritage Site, the Doñana National Park in Huelva province, while the most recently listed site (2016) is the combined cultural and natural site of the Antequera Dolmens in Malaga. Close to Andalucia, on the Rock of Gibraltar, is the Gorham’s Cave Complex, added at the same time.
The creativity that contributes towards this World Heritage status can be experienced through events such as The Baeza International Festival of Young Performers, the Córdoba Guitar Festival, the Granada International Music and Dance Festival, the Seville Flamenco Biennial or the Úbeda City International Music and Dance Festival to name just a few.
As diverse as the sports, landscapes and cultures are in Andalusia, so is the produce and there are dedicated tours focussing on regional specialties such as Almadraba tuna, Iberian ham, rice and olive oil.
But it is the people of Andalusia who make the place so special. Their cultural heritage and regional differences combined with ancient knowledge of the lands they cultivate make the area special. The people work with nature, treating the land with respect and giving back to it in a perfect example of symbiosis. To observe such a place at a time when working with the environment instead of exploiting it is so important, is where the real education lies.
For more information on travel assistance insurance in Andalusia, visit www.andalucia.org/en/travel-assistance-insurance.