Some years ago I worked in a big company and one of our brand´s marketing slogan was Keep Walking; later I remember proudly all the effort that our team kindly invested in this succesful campaign and I took the decission of launching my own Walk, my own Desert Walk… so I begun to be a lonely Desert Walker running here and there the Tabernas desert and badlands. I had everything I needed: time, enthusiasm, a big desert with highs of 2200 metres above sea level and inmense dry badlands areas for starting my activity.
Walking in a desert is an experience that need to be planned calmly; winter is cold there and summer is sometimes too warm. Wind, snow and intense rainfalls can ruin your trip and what is worst, risk of flash-floods is always on your rucksack.
But to live the experience of discovering ancient galleries, film locations, spot rare birds or understanding geology cycles it is much than more for going down the ramblas and start walking and discovering the secrets of the desert. People have been living here along times, and still they do it in some places although actually in a different way, more modern and comfortable; life here for a family was so cruel and hard that nearly all the population emigrated in the last decades down to the coast, looking for a better way of life for their children (ourselves) in the new business of plastic green-houses.
Deserts walker that have been travelling with me down in the badlands know perfectly of what am I talking about, and what is the real experience there, at Kingdom of Silence.
But the experience of the desert do not end down in the dry seasonal riverbeds (ramblas). Up the mountains there it is a unique experience walking in the snow of these arid lands, reinventing yourself and looking down to the world underneath your feet in a different way than usual.
That is the desert, that is the desert walker experience…. and much more.
Nowadays anyone talk here and there about green-tourism, eco-tourism, responsible tourism and more and more and more ridiculous concepts and ways of continuing doing the same unsustainable activities than in the past, but washed up with a green name. Under the name of responsible tourism destinations I have seen in recent times how so many natural habitats have been destroyed and how many local populations have been economically ruined. So when we are talking about Responsible tourism and Responsible tourism destinations, what are we really supposed to be talking about?.
In past times people travelled not as tourists but as travellers; this healthy concept changed in the last decades and indeed persons became objects to be profitably and easily commerced with. In this way, big resorts were built everywhere by big companies with the only purpose of doing quick money, selling sun and beach in the best case, but really always looking for profit, more profit and again more profit, and never looking for achieving good and unforgetable experiences for clients, that now they have been changed their status for bieng considered simply tourists. The local populations changed also their roles and they were promised lots of work and jobs with this new way of economical activity that changed forever their lives, their culture and their lands. Work was finally low quality employment and no more, and once the european economical recession begun, everything became worst and worst.
Big companies business grew up and up till finally it was collapsed by its own weight, and tourists begun to think by themselves again, and said NO to this situation; they were and are always the owners of their money and their time, and it was unlikable to be treated as a consum object. This was the real start of Responsible tourism, trying to change everything and understanding the concept under four points of view:
– I am not a tourist, I am a person travelling and looking for new experiencies and alive knowledge.
– I choose where I go and what I do at any moment. I am the owner of my money and my time.
– I want to collaborate with the local populations I am visiting, so they can see tourism not as an industry but as a way of life, as something positive also for them, as a real way of life that helps them to preserve their culture.
– I love local culture and wild Nature in the places I want to visit, and I will not allow none of them to be destroyed in my name.
So a responsible tourism destination must be really implicated in respect to Nature, sustainable growth of population, economical return to locals and full respect for people travelling in the territory, always considered as travellers and never as tourists. Nature and local culture in one hand, experience and knowledge in the other one; that is indeed responsible tourism, also known as ecotourism or green tourism.
The problem is that this new concept has also been discovered by the big monster of the macro-economical system and they are trying to put their claws on it, doing things finally again in the same way as in the past were done, but with different names and under different concepts; in spanish we have a proverb for that situation, and is that we have the same dogs but with different collars.
I will never understand responsible tourism destinations if they are not leadered and leaded by local persons living in visited lands; I know it is a very long way to achieve it, but really it is the only way for sustainable tourism in a responsible way.
Since our activity as Wildlife Guide Almeria started in 2010 we have been always looking for meeting points among travellers and locals, so both of them feel a part of the tours activity; since we started we have been spreading the word of conservation and sustainability although sometimes it could have had a bad effect in our profit; since we started enjoying really with what we liked so much, we have been allied with local schools and education for building a better world and helping to fix the young population to the lands where they were grown up.
Is all this stuff to create a Responsible tourism destination?. I don´t know really… it is perhaps your time to say if it is good or if it is not. Anyway we/I will continue walking by the same way and in the same direction.
If you want to organize a free talk about Almeria and/or responsible tourism destinations, please do not hesitate to mail us. Only transport and extra expenses would be required to be covered, mainly for other countries different of Spain. Thinking in a different way. Almeria: come and see.
Almeria is one of the most important destinations for wildlife and nature photographers from all Europe and some parts of North America, South Africa and Australia. Advanced travellers and professional photographers that do not want to lose their holiday-work time. So it is very important to know what are you looking for (birds, architecture, land formations, landscape, sunrises/sunsets, perhaps others??), so important as knowing well the language of the place your visiting and what places are allowed to visit or not; all these clues will improve your time for being used in the real thing that you are looking for when travelling: taking your pictures.
Weather in Almeria is unpredictable for anyone that is not a local, and sometimes it can really ruin your day. You need to learn how to move yourself in a windy day or with flash-floods risk, so that you finally reach your goals succesfully, and although almost times visitors coming to Almeria they enjoy a nice weather with clear and intense blue skies, you will never be exempt of storms and gales… also so usual here, and as said before… unpredictable.
Wind: When wind is blowing, you must know that Almeria lands are abundantly mountainous, so you can shelter yourself always at one or other side of the hills (poniente versus levante), and do your work at the other slope of the valley in which wind is blowing from.
Sea storms: Sea is always nice for painting and art, so as for photogaphy and photographers; but always take care of the shore level when you are in the middle of a gale; shore level can change in a moment and ruin all your work; on the other hand tides are not relevant in this side of Mediterranean Sea.
Flash floods: keep always far away of ramblas (temporary seasonal riverbeds); they never will warn you that they come-down with tons of water and bolders in only some seconds/minutes; keep always a security distance from these floodable places.
Snow:Almeria mountains usually enjoy snow-storms in winter and spring times; be always careful with dirt-tracks and take at any moment notice of how you can leave the place in an alert situation.
Summer:never never never forget to take some litres of drinkable cool water in your car, mainly while travelling in the desert and up the lost mountains.
Winter: Don´t forget to place your warm cloths always inside the car-boot; you don´t know in which moment they will be much more useful than your camera or your own car.
Luggage: Although Almeria is a highly safe destination, never forget to leave nothing inside the car when you park it in lonely places; it is the only way to avoid anywhere uncomfortable situations.
Of course, the best option will be always trust your local guide, because he/she will know what to do at any moment and will ensure that your photography trips or art tours become totally successful and enjoyable along your stay in our lands.
At any case Almeria will make a difference in your photography and art trip. These were only some desert photography ideas for those travelling by themselves, with no external assistance or nature guiding.
Do you want any more desert photography ideas or perhaps do you want to book a trip with me?.
Almeria is a movie set by itself; its natural landscape, blue sky, mild winter weather and being the only desert in Europe have placed these lands in the spot of the cinema industry´s main directors.
The story started in the sixties, with the well-known movie of Cleopatra; although in those times there were filmed different short movies in the area, indeed the boom arrived after filming Lawrence of Arabia, being Akaba town built in Almeria ramblas (Ouads = Temporary seasonal riverbeds). Came also afterwards important movies as Conan the Barbarian or Indiana Jones Temple of doom and Indiana Jones and the last cruisade.
But really the takeoff of Almeria movie sets happened when an italian director named Sergio Leone fixed his eye on this dry land that understood to be the unique desert in Europe; so it was ideal for filming western movies, and also he had in Cabo de Gata area the perfect mexican locations for being fixed in what afterwards was called spaghetti western, because of the italian origin of this man. Indeed Leone chose Almeria movie sets because it was so cheap filming western here, instead of travelling far away to american Mojave or Arizona deserts. With him came to Almeria and Tabernas desert movies as The good, the bad and the ugly or For a fistful dollars… and after him came dozens of movies with the most reputated directors, actors and actresses; as an example can say Once upon in the West with Henry Fonda and Claudia Cardinale.
Time passed by and Almeria movie sets fell asleep and forgotten by the industry, except some low-cost movies that ocasionally chose the destination for filming. It was in 2013 that the cameras came back by the hand of well-known director Ridley Scott that chose Almeria movie sets for filming the macro-production Exodus Gods and Kings.
Actually Almeria continues being an important film location with new projects being developed along all the province.
Do you want to discover the landscape and abandoned Almeria movie sets with a local guy fully-knowledged about the film-locations?. Not only movies and western in this trip; also landscape, geography and nature.
Almeria is the southernmost province of the spanish region named Andalucia, just with 7 other provinces: Cordoba, Granada, Sevilla, Huelva, Cadiz, Jaen and Malaga. Because of the tectonic plates movement, Africa plates are literally pushing up the land in this side of the iberian peninsula… and so Almeria is the most mountainous province of Spain.
Also Almeria is the driest one, and it is because of Sierra Nevada mountains that run just between Almeria and Granada. Rain-clouds usually come from the Atlantic side, and this huge range of mountains (Sierra nevada) stop them just here; because of this reason Granada is a rainy region and Almeria is so dry. Something different happens at the end of summer, when the Mediterranean sea-currents bring clouds from outside the sea. Then is the moment for the well-known phenomenon called flash floods (riadas), that although they can happen along every season, it is something usual to happen at the end of summer, for different reasons.
This aridity, just with the diverse geomorphology of the territory, make Almeria one of the most deared places for running Geography Field Trips; volcanic materials at Cabo de Gata, metamorfic rocks in Nevada and Filabres mountains, limestone and silex in Los Velez lands, evaporitic and marine sedimentary rocks in the desert and the Saint Andrea big fault... are an excellent scene for running a Geography Field Trip to understand the story of Earth, at the same time that we can see all kind of animals and plants living in the most extreme and stressed possible conditions.
Warm and sunny weather in winter help us to be one of most favourite places for running these Geography Field Trips for universities of all around the world, mainly Europe and North America. Just in winter when it is raining and snowing hard in other places, Almeria keeps its well known winter-sunny-days.
A lost paradise in the Mediterranean, a geme for geologists, in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea and just at south Europe; Almeria is the ideal place for running your Geography Field Trip. Look for your quote; we can attend individuals so as groups, always building tailored and flexible trips, attending to your targets.
Almeria is a paradise for birdwatchers, advanced or amateurs… it is a place where we can spot easily african species as the trumpeter finch or the black-bellied sandgrouse. Because of its geography, there are different areas where we can look for different birds: cliffs, shores, marshes, steppes, mountains and much more…
A birdwatching day can give us many surprises here at south Spain, if we travel to locations where some species can be found in its appropriate season; for example look for (and find) the white-headed duck colonies at the western marshes in winter time is not difficult, or spotting the crake in Cabo de Gata marshes at spring time it is simple if you know where to find them.
Some other birds can be easily spotted as the greater flamingo, and other ones are a bit more rare, as the wryneck or the blue rock-thrush.
My experience as an Almeria birdwatching guide comes back from early times; in 2007 I worked proffesionaly for the Spanish Bird Society inventoring winter birds in Almeria and Granada provinces and afterwards I worked along one more winter, inventoring forest-breeding raptors. So what I offer is not only to enjoy a unique birding trip in Almeria (and Granada) but also my own experienceto make easy a birdwatching day… so you can improve your time… and why not??… you can visit the places afterwards by yourself also, with your rental car. Anyway do not forget that in many places you can be required permits by private wardens or environmental public controls.
A birdwatching day with a Bird watching guide is more than looking for birds. My experience with people travelling from different countries along years, some of them very far away, has been amazing till this moment. It looks as if watching birds was only the excuse for going out to the country side with a knowledgable guide to look for plants, butterflies, culture, geology, landscape, snakes, lizards, mammals and everything happening in the trip, just in front of us while travelling… and of course looking for birds.
One day not far ago, a gentle lady travelling with me said: Never tell people that your name is Jesus and that you are a guide, because it could generate some confusion among certain kind of persons. I smiled her slightly and answered that mummy always had said to me since I was a child that the only thing good in me was really my name… but it was a little bit late for changing it , so I continued with the same name (and job) till today.
Mum is actually an elder person and still says to me that those persons that love danger, finally die in it. I have heard this sentence put on her mouth since I was a child, and although I have loved always risky situations… I still keep alive; perhaps Jesus protect me.
The real thing is that I was baptized as Jesus (Isa in arab); it happened long time ago in the 60´s of past century, and after spending half of my life looking for what to do, I discovered that my goal in this life was to guide people; do not understand please, an spiritual guidance (although sometimes also happens) but guiding travellers (persons) in these fantastic lands were I was born and grown, and in which I took the decission of living in them forever, till my last days. It is not difficult to fall in love with Almeria… and more yet if it is the land were you were born, grown up, educated and happily married.
After leaving the Company in which I had been managing as a thriving salesman for more than one decade, I begun to prepare anything for starting a new future, my small business as self-employed, being the first two things to be done learning intensely about wildlife and about the territory. I read any books that had been written about Almeria flora and fauna and begun to organize up to 10 private flights for taking photographs of my lands from the air, to have my own maps and documents.
Slowly I became an expert in this corner of the Iberian map at south Spain… by land, sea and air, till finally I faced the moment of just starting to work as a nature guide; Jesus the guide/Jesus Guide sounded great for me… but who was paying me for discovering the land?. Local people were starting an important economical recession, that still happens nowadays… so money was not abundant and local people indeed were/are not nature lovers as in other countries.
Time for analysis again; the only profitable option was to improve my second language (english) and looking to develop the touristic market, but thinking in a very different way of the traditional concept of tourism. I didn´t want to show churchs or museums, I really wished to show my lands, the true life of people living hard every day in a very arid country; and this was definitely the start of my company based in ecotourism and responsible tourism.
It is important to say that when I started, nearly all gates were closed for me; nobody believed in this new concept of Green Tourism… but I never gave up. There were very hard moments, and still there are some difficult ones, but when you believe firmly in what you do and you keep yourself constant and doing everything responsibly, finally the miracle to happen, and then it is time of following your star.
Actually I have agreements with some rural houses of local people and alliances with other small businesses working in the same way, and I feel very proud to be helping a little bit to the rural development growth in a sustainable way, focused on fixing the population to the land, based in ecotourism, respect to nature and sustainability… and I feel so happy that other younger ones followed the same steps in different ways.
To be a guide is really one of the most amazing experiences that can happen to a human being; it is a job (not an employment) that makes you feel good and require full passion. And why not?? …. using always as a joke this old and deared nickname of Jesus Guide.