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A Holiday at Sea – Sighting Killer Whales off Tarifa

From mid-July to mid-September, around 50 killer whales grouped into five families can be sighted in the Strait of Gibraltar off Tarifa. And, if you’re a lover of these giant mammals, what an adventure you can have watching whales, dolphins and killer whales in their natural environment, toying with vessels and swimming to-and-fro through this sheet of water that joins the Mediterranean to the Atlantic Ocean.

CIRCE (Conservation, Information and Research on Cetaceans) estimates that the striped, bottlenose, and common dolphin, and the short-finned pilot whale have their habitat in this Strait separating Europe and Africa. However, in mid-spring there are also sporadic sightings of sperm whales and such stunning mammals as the finback whale, measuring 20 metres long and weighing over 80 tons – one of the largest animals on the planet.

Killer whales are more on show in summer as they chase the tuna fish that head across the Strait of Gibraltar to the Atlantic at that time of year.

Tarifa is the Spot

But, the fun doesn’t stop there. Tarifa has a lot more to offer as it is one of Europe’s most attractive and cosmopolitan towns. It is a meeting point for young people from all over the world, drawn by the spectacular beaches and by the windsurfing and kitesurfing. If to that you add the entertainment provided by nature itself, the fun is guaranteed!

For those of you who prefer to be onterra firma,you can go for other activities you are sure to relish. In Tarifa, you can visit the beaches of Valdevaqueros and Bolonia, with their massive dunes which on clear days afford views of North Africa. Another essential enclave is Baelo Claudia, one of the major archaeological sites on the Peninsula. It is ideal for gauging what a typical Roman settlement would have been like, with its amphitheatre, roads, fish factories and walls. This was an important Roman settlement as it was here that the famous garum sauce was made and exported to Rome. The fish sauce was made of fermented entrails and regarded by Romans as an aphrodisiac.

Another of Tarifa’s emblematic monuments is the Castle of Guzmán El Bueno whose claim to fame is provided by the chilling tale of his preferring to hand over his son to the invaders than surrender the stronghold of Tarifa.

Make sure you don’t leave Tarifa without first trying their fresh fish, either in the bars or the beach stalls known as chiringuitos,or without tasting the delicious pastries with their long, Arab tradition in the town centre’s pastry shops.

Here you will be treated to a host of options, each with their own charm. So, take up your backpack, Vueling and fly to Jerez to enjoy one of southern Europe’s most powerful natural spots.

Text by Amparo Ortega and María del Águila Heras (Patronato Turismo de Cádiz)

Images by Patronato Turismo de Cádiz

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