Tag Archives: almeria desert

Sierra Nevada Mountains

Sierra Nevada Mountains in Almeria - 10 months a year snowed.
Sierra Nevada Mountains in Almeria – 10 months a year snowed.

Sierra Nevada mountains

Ragua mountain-pass, where Almeria changes its name by Granada.

Few people visiting Spain know that Sierra Nevada mountains are in a big extension part of Almeria province, and not only in Granada, although this second one has traditionally used commercially the name, thanks to their high peaks Mulhacen and Veleta , worldwide famous because of their ski areas, and because also of the famous Alhambra palaces and gardens at its foothill.

Granada lose its name becoming Almeria just at the place of Puerto de la Ragua (Ragua mountain-pass) at a high of 2000 meters above sea level. The panoramic view so as the pure air are really astonishing, and also it is a small paradise for those in love with geography and geology; coming from Almeria side it is a short-way of visiting Nevada Complex geo-locations without going no more far away.

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Just at the top of Ragua peak we will find metamorphic rocks as micaschist and quartzites, the same ones than in Veleta-Granada peak; the symmetry of both slopes at north and south is nearly perfect at this point. Coming down a little bit we will find the next geo-level with more metamorphic rocks as schist and marble, and downhill in the valleys it begin to appear phyllites and dolomites. At the bottom of the mountains, where the highs evolve in hills, we find recent sediment formations coming from the dismantling of Sierra Nevada along millions of years while it was slowly lifted-up (geologically talking). Only can be missed in this area the glaciar landscape, and although it is really there, it is not so prominent as in Granada highs because of the lower altitude of this area, so glaciars where never not so active as in Mulhacen and other Nevada western peaks. As something curious we can say also that some hills built in carbonates, limestone and dolomites (Triasic period around 240 million years ago)  can be found in some places at the northern planes.

Water coming from ice-melting generate in Ragua valleys a precious resource of life for the lands underneath, including the so-called Plastic Sea, faraway in the coast; these mountain streams anyway cannot be considered as real rivers, although sometimes after winter snowfalls they can become very active, and the flow can be very intense as dangerous.

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Water from Sierra Nevada mountains is the main wealth of Almeria western coast; without it, the miracle of plastic greenhouses would be absolutely impossible. Both legal figures of National and Natural Parks protect this special almerian area, just with its continuation towards West in Granada.

On the other hand we must say that this region is amazing from a natural history and landscape point of view; a real cultural and human landscape absolutely anchored in time, linked to the amazigh (the free men) tribes living here along centuries, cultures that were very difficult to be conquered by the big empires of Rome, Arabs and Christians; although finally the moriscs (descendant people of these tribes) were expelled from Spain, they came back slowly and adapted themselves to a more modern way of life; they (we) feel proud of our history, linked to Sierra Nevada mountains.

  BOOK YOUR sierra nevada mountains TRIP NOW 

Our Gata Geopark partners:

Picachico | Casas Rurales en Almeria

Hostal Rural Restaurante Alba

Hotel MC San Jose. Parque Natural Cabo de Gata Nijar (Almeria)

Spanish Nature

Spanish Highs Mountain Guides, Sierra Nevada, Spain (Sierra Nevada trips in Granada)

Kisacar Rent A Car

Jesus Contreras

Geo landscapes

Geo landscapes in Gata Geopark - Volcanic domes.
Geo landscapes in Gata Geopark – Volcanic domes.

Geo landscapes in Gata cape

Geology in Gata Cape (Cabo de Gata) as a different way to understand landscape

Cabo de Gata mountains are built-up with very peculiar materials; mainly there can be found magmatic rocks coming from very ancient volcanic activity. It is something very different to that happened in the mountains bordering this are, that are named Baetic Ranges (sierras Béticas) and are mainly metamorphic; also these magmatic materials are very different to those others in the nearby coastal depressions, that are mainly compounds of seaside shores and shallow-water sedimentary rocks, where can be found fossil shells of Strombus bubonius… a big sea-snail that lived here 200.000 years ago (actually can be found in tropical areas as Senegal coast).

The volcanic condition of Gata Geopark rocks is due to its intense and active geological past, starting aproximately 15 millions of years ago, just when the magamatic flows started to arise up to the surface of the sea in the not faraway area of Alboran Sea (Alboran island is actually part of Almeria province, offshore). Indeed these Gata rocks are part of this huge magmatic area, just emerged from the sea at this point and in the named Alboran island. The last Gata Geopark active volcanoes were extinguished around 7,5 million years ago.

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Geo landscapes in Gata Geopark – emerged volcanic domes.

Just at Gata Cape there can be recognized unique massive emergent volcanic rocks, that have been identified by geologists as volcanic domes.  A volcanic dome is an elevation in the land (can be up to 500 metres altitude) shaped as a coliflower or dome, that is the solidification result of very dense lava; this density avoid that lava mass move away by gravity as a fluid, and become solid very nearby to the place where it came up to the surface. Sometimes pressure generate lava explosions, generating a new class of rocks called Piroclastics or Ignimbrites (literally fire-rocks).

Between two different geological moments, lava density can be changed and become less dense… and flow then as a lava river. These three different density moments can be perfectly spotted in some areas at Gata GeoPark.

The hexagonal structures that can be seen in some of the places are generated by lava retraction after have being cooled, generating one of the most amazing Geo landscapes in the world.

Geo landscapes in Gata Geopark -  and uses of the land.
Geo landscapes in Gata Geopark – and uses of the land.

  BOOK YOUR gata geopark trip NOW 

Our Gata Geopark partners:

Picachico | Casas Rurales en Almeria

Hostal Rural Restaurante Alba

Hotel MC San Jose. Parque Natural Cabo de Gata Nijar (Almeria)

Spanish Nature

Spanish Highs Mountain Guides, Sierra Nevada, Spain

Kisacar Rent A Car

Jesus Contreras

Desert walker

Desert walkers: one of the most amazing landscapes in Europe - walking all year except hot summer.
Desert walkers: one of the most amazing landscapes in Europe – walking all year except hot summer.

Desert walker.

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.

Desert walkers:  exploring history, human landscape and uses of the lands.
Desert walkers: exploring history, human landscape and uses of the lands.

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.

Desert walkers:  exploring the highs in closed winter - below zero.
Desert walkers: exploring the highs in closed winter – below zero.

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.

  BOOK YOUR DESERT WALK NOW 

Desert walker partners:

Picachico | Casas Rurales en Almeria

Hostal Rural Restaurante Alba

Hotel MC San Jose. Parque Natural Cabo de Gata Nijar (Almeria)

Spanish Nature

Spanish Highs Mountain Guides, Sierra Nevada, Spain

Kisacar Rent A Car

Jesus Contreras

Mountains beyond mountains

Mountains beyond mountains: that is the real Almeria.
Mountains beyond mountains: that is the real Almeria.

Mountains beyond mountains.

Always I describe Almeria say that it is the most mountainous region in Spain; indeed it is. The elevation of the mainland due to the tectonic plates crash has lifted up the territory in different areas, so that Almeria is run from East to West by different ranges of mountains (sierra = saw) in all its area: the main ranges are Gador, Alhamilla, Cabrera, Filabres, Nevada and Estancias, but there are also smaller ones with their own identity and beauty, their hidden villages and their own culture.

Mountains beyond mountains: up to 2000 metres above sea level.
Mountains beyond mountains: up to 2000 metres above sea level.

This is one of the main aspects to be considered while travelling to Almeria. It is a land where you will find always mountains beyond mountains, where it can be enjoyed the unique experience of travelling from sea level up to 2000 metres in less than 40 minutes; take breakfast at the sunny coast of Cabo de Gata and enjoying a bottle of spanish red wine one hour later in the highs, hidden in the middle of nowhere, at undiscovered high peaks that kiss the sky with their genuine pure air.

In these heights I feel myself free, totally human… with the World at my feet, only missing a couple of wings; and this is what I share with visitors travelling with me. Although Almeria is also the driest area of the Iberian peninsula, with its unique desert of Tabernas (Desierto de Tabernas) it is not something rare to be in the middle of the snow at any moment, either in a snow-storm or under a snowed brilliant blue sky. Because of this we locals like to say that… everything is possible in Almeria; also travelling by excellent secondary roads of mountains and more mountains beyond mountains.

Mountains beyond mountains: the desert seen from the roof.
Mountains beyond mountains: the desert seen from the roof.

  BOOK YOUR TRIP AT ALMERIA HIGHS NOW 

Our partners:

Picachico | Casas Rurales en Almeria

Hostal Rural Restaurante Alba

Hotel MC San Jose. Parque Natural Cabo de Gata Nijar (Almeria)

Spanish Nature

Spanish Highs Mountain Guides, Sierra Nevada, Spain

Kisacar Rent A Car

Jesus Contreras

Responsible tourism destinations

Responsible tourism destinations: Almeria in Spain - Responsibility  with Nature.
Responsible tourism destinations: Almeria in Spain – Responsibility with Nature.

Responsible tourism destinations

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.

Responsible tourism destinations: Almeria in Spain.
Responsible tourism destinations: Almeria in Spain – Responsibility with travellers and with local society.

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.

Responsible tourism destinations: Almeria in Spain - Responsibility  with youngs in schools and education.
Responsible tourism destinations: Almeria in Spain – Responsibility with youngs in schools and education.

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.

   ASK FOR A FREE TALK ABOUT ALMERIA NATURE NOW 

Our partners:

Picachico | Casas Rurales en Almeria

Hostal Rural Restaurante Alba

Hotel MC San Jose. Parque Natural Cabo de Gata Nijar (Almeria)

Spanish Nature

Spanish Highs Mountain Guides, Sierra Nevada, Spain

Kisacar Rent A Car

Jesus Contreras

Agave bloom

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Agave bloom landscape linked to movie sets and literature locations: Cortijo del Fraile in Cabo de Gata; the inspiration of Federico Garcia Lorca Blood Weddings.

Agave bloom

Almeria landscape generally, and mainly Cabo de Gata National Park… are highly linked to botany; dwarf fan palm tree, fig tree, pome granate, almonds and olive trees, sparto grass, prickly pear or agave plant are common shrubs and trees found everywhere in this nice south-iberian region.

The agave plant, also known as Century plant in North America or pita and pitaco in Spain, is really not originary from Europe, although it is so present in our arid landscape that it would be very different without them. Century plant´s name is given to the Blue agave (Agave americana) because it spends a lot of time before finally blossoming (after blooming, the plant dies). It is just the time that the plant needs to store all the required energy nutrients for when favorable weather allows it to develop the long sticks that will bring up with blooming.

For this Agave plant a dry and hot hot hot summer as this one we are suffering in 2015 is the greatest moment for blooming. It is just time for doing that: agave blossom time.

Agave bloom landscape: a unique experience only happening in Almeria mediterranean unusual deserts.
Agave bloom landscape: a unique experience only happening in Almeria mediterranean unusual deserts.

In Almeria lands there can be mainly found three species of Agave plants: Agave furcroydes and agave sisalana, planted in past times for taking the so-called sisal fiber, and Agave americana that is a bigger shrub than others and has been used for different purposes, as building corrals or ladders with its sticks, fences with the plants by themselves or agave sirope with blossoms´ honey.

The problem with sisal was that at the same time that first entrepeneurs begun to manage big plantations for obteining the fiber, just then plastic fiber was discovered and comercialized under a cheaper price; so the pita growths (pitares) were abandoned just at the beggining, before they could show if were profitable or not.

From these abandoned plantations come the actual agave landscape that can be found in the area of Nijar and Cabo de Gata National Park. It is something that must be mentioned that this plant, after blooming, develop small plants on the top of the sticks, that afterwards are blown by the wind, generating new plants. So Almeria province is actually a wild agave forest, deared by many people and not so much by others, that see in the agave-plant an invasive species in competition with local vegetation.

Agave bloom in Almeria cultural and human landscape.
Agave bloom in Almeria cultural and human landscape.

In any case the agave plant or century plant is highly linked to Almeria´s landscape; so much that we can say that agave bloom is a part of Almeria´s cultural and human landscape so as part of its natural history, although it is happening in the area only since few centuries ago.

When it is hot hot hot in Almeria it is time to look for the agave bloom; ideal moments for photographers so as naturalists and for every person in love with natural mediterranean landscape.  Almeria, come and see.

Do you want to visit the agave bloom??…

  BOOK YOUR AGAVE BLOOM TRIP NOW 

Our partners:

Picachico | Casas Rurales en Almeria

Hostal Rural Restaurante Alba

Hotel MC San Jose. Parque Natural Cabo de Gata Nijar (Almeria)

Spanish Nature

Spanish Highs Mountain Guides, Sierra Nevada, Spain

Kisacar Rent A Car

Jesus Contreras

Almeria movie sets

Almeria movie sets and cinema trips: Tabernas desert.
Almeria movie sets and cinema trips: Tabernas desert.

Almeria movie sets

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.

Almeria movie sets and cinema trips: Exodus Gods and Kings.
Almeria movie sets and cinema trips: Exodus Gods and Kings.

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.

Almeria movie sets and cinema trips: the main actor are always you.
Almeria movie sets and cinema trips: the main actor are always you.

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.

  BOOK YOUR ALMERIA MOVIE SETS TRIP NOW 

Our partners:

Picachico | Casas Rurales en Almeria

Hostal Rural Restaurante Alba

Hotel MC San Jose. Parque Natural Cabo de Gata Nijar (Almeria)

Spanish Nature

Spanish Highs Mountain Guides, Sierra Nevada, Spain

Kisacar Rent A Car

Jesus Contreras

Geography Field Trips

Geography Field Trips. Looking for birds in Los Velez lands at Almeria northern territory.
Geography Field Trips. Looking for birds in Los Velez lands at Almeria northern territory.

Geography Field Trips

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.

Geography Field Trips. Studying gypsum supercones at ancient seabed in Almeria desert.
Geography Field Trips. Studying gypsum supercones at ancient seabed in Almeria desert.

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.

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Geography Field Trips. Studying volcanic andesite and ignimbrite landforms at the sea level in Cabo de Gata National Park.

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.

  BOOK YOUR geography field TRIP NOW 

Our partners:

Picachico | Casas Rurales en Almeria

Hostal Rural Restaurante Alba

Hotel MC San Jose. Parque Natural Cabo de Gata Nijar (Almeria)

Spanish Nature

Spanish Highs Mountain Guides, Sierra Nevada, Spain

Kisacar Rent A Car

Jesus Contreras

Bird watching guide

Bird watching guide: individual or group trips and tours. Advanced birdwatching and amateur birding.
Bird watching guide: individual or group trips and tours. Advanced birdwatching and amateur birding.

Bird watching guide in Almeria

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.

Bird watching guide: individual or group trips and tours. Advanced birdwatching and amateur birding.
Bird watching guide: individual or group trips and tours. Advanced birdwatching and amateur birding.

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 experience to 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.

  BOOK YOUR BIRDWATCHING TRIP NOW 

Bird watching guide: individual or group trips and tours. Advanced birdwatching and amateur birding.
Bird watching guide: individual or group trips and tours. Advanced birdwatching and amateur birding.


Our partners:

Picachico | Casas Rurales en Almeria

Hostal Rural Restaurante Alba

Hotel MC San Jose. Parque Natural Cabo de Gata Nijar (Almeria)

Spanish Nature

Spanish Highs Mountain Guides, Sierra Nevada, Spain

Kisacar Rent A Car

Jesus Contreras

Cabo de Gata coastline

Cabo de Gata coastline: littoral steppes estuaries.
Cabo de Gata coastline: littoral steppes estuaries.

Cabo de Gata coastline

Cabo de Gata coastline in Almeria´s eastern bay, is basically formed by a beach line; to understand this long shore we can say that in some places what we see is really the active sand generated by erosion and movement of particles broken by the sea water, under an intense and continuous activity; in other places we will find fossil beaches and in only a couple of places there happen some marshes with permanent water, called estuaries (ramblas).

The littoral steppe of Almeria bay (Cabo de Gata = Gata cape) has been invaded by the sea along the last 5 millions of years. The continuous raising up of Alhamilla mountains (at the north) has generated from these geological times its ongoing retreat till 900.000 years ago aproximately… that placed the coast line in a similar position than actually.

Along all this time lots of sediments of the newly emerged mountains were collected here at the seabed; these sediments were afterwards exposed after the retreat of the water; so the fossil coastline of old ages has been perfectly preserved and can be seen with lots (also perfectly preserved) of creatures living here in this past coastline. Some of these fossil records have been dated in between 250.000-95.000 years ago. Among these records there it is a creature whose latin name is Strombus bubonius, that actually live in tropical coasts at the african Atlantic coast, reporting us valuable information about what was the weather in Almeria coast 200.000 years ago.

Cabo de Gata coastline fossil beach, partially emerged.
Cabo de Gata coastline fossil beach, partially emerged.

The estuaries of some ramblas (ouads = temporary seasonal riverbeds) are also conditioned by geological processes as erosion-sedimentation or the presence of faults. These places store natural water with different compositions, but mainly it is highly brackish, and they are very important places for sedentary and migratory birdlife (resting and feeding areas); the dynamic acivity of these estuaries change along seasons, attending to dryness or flashfloods activity.

Around the estuaries there can be found natural habitats formed by sand dunes and specific vegetation capable to fix this sand to the ground (by the roots) and avoiding so that it is transported by the wind, generating loss of soil and problems in neighbour usable lands; in past decades this sand was taken away for building greenhouses in the new and prosperous business of intensive agriculture; actually all the ecosystem is protected.

Cabo de Gata coastline: saltmarashes and saltpans.
Cabo de Gata coastline: saltmarashes and saltpans.

The saltmarshes of Cabo de Gata in Almeria are by themselves one of the environmental most valued ecosystems in Andalucia (southernmost Spain´s region with 8 provinces, including Almeria), and also one of the most important in the Mediterranean coast. One of the few places in the iberian coast where it can be found a healthy population of greater flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus), using the territory along all the seasons, also in summer… although they don´t breed here.

3.000 years ago the littoral coastline was nearly in the same position than actually. Sediments transported to the bay and coming from the nearby Andarax river (delta is in Almeria town) and the dominant wind of West… generated the formation of a permanent sandbar, that was slowly growing till it enclosed totally a small portion of the ancient bay, building so a small enclosed sea or gulf: the actual marshes and pans.

Once the gulf was totally enclosed, people of cultures living here from very old times ago (romans/phoenicians/amazighs), learnt to use the deposits of salt for their own interest; these deposits were generated naturally after the sea storms, and so on it has been done till actually, when salt is still worked/mined here, but in a different way, adapted to profitability in modern times… transporting directly the water from the sea at the actual Cabo de Gata coastline and taking technical control of all the process and timing used in it.

Our partners:

Picachico | Casas Rurales en Almeria

Hostal Rural Restaurante Alba

Hotel MC San Jose. Parque Natural Cabo de Gata Nijar (Almeria)

Spanish Nature

Spanish Highs Mountain Guides, Sierra Nevada, Spain

Kisacar Rent A Car

Jesus Contreras

almerianature@mailbox.org