Have you ever wondered where the amazing writer Cervantes got inspired to write his masterpiece Don Quixote? Spain is a very large country with many different landscapes all over, and one of the largest regions is called Castilla y la Mancha, next to Valencia, the region where I currently live. It's full of beauty and has played an important role in literature. Well, let me tell you that Castilla y la Mancha is the main Don Quijote set, from the 17th Century novel written by Miguel de Cervantes, who made the most of the Castilla's mountain ranges, plains, vineyards, castles and windmills. The awesome city of Toledo is Castilla y la Mancha's capital and if you are in my country, you can't miss a visit to Toledo to explore the city of the three cultures!
Castilla y la Mancha is the perfect destination for those who want to escape large cities and want to do rural tourism. And in this story, I am going to tell about a very unique place in Spain where you can forget about all your problems and where it will make sense for you why Cervantes chose Castilla y la Mancha as the setting for Don Quixote.
Lagunas de Ruidera is a natural park in Spain, containing 16 small lakes, the Lagunas de Ruidera, that are located in the La Mancha plain. The lakes are connected by falls, small rivers as well as subterranean flow and the area is considered the source of Guadiana River, one of the main rivers of Spain. This place was once nicknamed "The Mirrors of La Mancha", they stretch for 20 km through a valley. Miguel de Cervantes, in Don Quixote, mentions seven of these small lakes, but there are actually sixteen lakes. You somehow feel their presence even before you finally see them, after driving through some of the driest countryside in Spain. This, indeed, is Don Quixote country and I had the chance to enjoy these unique lakes in one of my many family trips.
The Natural Park of Las Lagunas de Ruidera, divided between the provinces of Albacete and Ciudad Real, constitutes the most exceptional and extensive wetland of Castilla-La Mancha. It is an ideal environment for activities of active tourism and ecotourism: nature, diving, sailing sports, adventure, hiking, kayaking, paddle surfing and snorkeling. There are also swimming areas during the summer and good places for sport fishing, as well as many rocks from which you can jump in and hidden caves to discover and explore.
Check out some of the fantastic cottages below, rent one of them in one of the many villages nearby (as we did when we visited), and spend a few days discovering some more Don Quixote places for yourself, and become part of this natural and unique landscape!
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