An Andalusian Experience

Discovering the history and natural treasures of the Guadalquivir aboard a sailing ketch.

Sailing the Might Guadalquivir

Its name comes from the Arabic for "Great River". Flowing from its source in the mountains of Jaen to meet the Atlantic 350 miles later in Sanlúcar de Barrameda, the Guadalquivir is the living artery that binds together the people and the history of Andalusia.

Sailing the Guadalquivir riverNow travelers can learn the stories this river has to tell on sailboat cruises which regularly set out from the small port of Gelves in Seville, on a tour which combines history and nature. Gelves, 2 miles downriver from the city of Seville, is favourite a wintering port for yachtsmen and is also the base for the ketch Antipodes, which takes passengers on trips lasting between half a day to a long weekend. As the boat pulls out of the harbour, passengers lose sight of the modern Quinto Centenario bridge rising in the background to travel back in time under the watchful gaze of herons and cormorants. Passing historical ruins, rice fields and picturesque riverside villages, the boat reaches the Isleta de los Pajaros (Island of the Birds), an ornithological jewel next to the Doņana National Park. On the full-day trip, passengers disembark for a picnic of seafood paella on shore. On the longer trips, passengers sleep aboard in the port of Chipiona and off the Doņana park.

The boat’s skipper, Jose Renteria, worked as a government marine biologist until he decided to quit his job and start a new life afloat. As he deftly guides the Antipodes downriver, he entertains his guests with a boundless treasure of local anecdotes, snippets of history and fascinating facts about the local wildlife.

During the Easter holidays, the Antipodes sails out for a longer tour, heading from the mouth of the river along the Huelva coast to explore the Guadiana river, which forms a watery frontier between Spain and Portugal, and in summer, the boat takes passengers on week-long tours of the Atlantic coast.

Antipodes - E-mail: [email protected]   Website:

Nearest airport: Seville (6 miles, 10 km)


Copyright Š 2000 An Andalusian Experience. Text by Mark Little. Photography by J. D. Dallet  - A Freelance Spain production

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Copyright © 2000-2006 Mark and David Little & J.D. Dallet