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.
One of the most impressive landscape in Almeria is the so-called Almeria geographical depressions.
Almeria, Tabernas and Sorbas basins, just with Nijar, Vera, Almanzora and Pulpi were indeed in past ages marine basins, refilled by sediments provided by the erosion of the surrounding just-emerged lands while the Mediterranean Sea advanced slowly from the Cabo de Gata archipelago and the young mountains nearby. These basins are understood to be aproximately between 15 and 8 million years old and they were covered by sea water till recently (around 2 million years or perhaps less time).
Anyway the land-raising that bordered the entrances of this ancient sea didn´t happen all at the same time. The first places to be raised were Sierra Nevada and Filabres Range of Mountains (15 million years ago), while Cabo de Gata volcanic activity was just happening not far away. On these times the coastline of the actual Almeria was placed on the line that is today occupied by the villages of Sorbas and Tabernas.
8 millions of years later there were arised the Mountains of Gador and Alhamilla, nearby to the actual coastline.
Did you know that nearly all the words that begin with al in spanish come from the arab language, meaning the english article the ???. For example Al-hamilla (the hammams, the baths) or Alcazaba (the kasba, the fortress)… and so on in a very long list.
The last mountains to be raised up were the so-called Sierra de Cabrera (Cabrera range of mountains), that is by the way the youngest mountains chain on the iberian peninsula; this happened approximately 5,5 millions of years ago.
As we can see, Almeria is an exceptional place for studying the history of our Planet in which we live, and where can be found sedimentary,volcanic and metamorphic rocks altogether, nude and with no vegatation, and under a dry and sunny weather along nearly 12 months in the year. Becase of this Almeria has been called, among other names, the open laboratory of Europe.
Almeria, this incredible arid area at south Europe is not anyway a desert, and water is abundant in its territory, but water is a sensitive case here… because it flows underneath the ground, at the water table (aquifer), and many times it is fossil water that has been stored along thousands of years, and is not charged back so quickly as it is used for agricultural and tourist purposes.
Because of this, the natural geography of these areas offers us some unique places where water come up to the surface building by itself amazing natural oasis … genuine ecosystems that are the true responsible of life happening here. The mountains of Alhamilla and Gador are being raised up so fast as 2 cm every 100 years, attending to scientific research.
Filabres and Sierra Nevada are called the Iberian peninsula roof, beause they are the highest peaks in it, with exception of those in the north border at the Pyrenees.
More resons for visiting Almeriaand its geographical depressions??
A unique place in Almeria landscape and totally different of others is the Cabo de Gata Sierra (Range of mountains of Gata Cape). Its geological origin is mainly volvanic, and much more younger than other territories in the actual almerian geography. Its age has been estimated by scientists in approximately 14 to 7 millions of years ago.
Indeed the area of Gata Cape (Cabo de Gata) is only a small emerged portion of a wide submerged (under the sea) area underneath the so-named Mar de Alboran (Alboran Sea), between Africa and Europe continents.
Did you know that the tiny Alboran Island is a part of Almeria province?. Actually it is used only for science research and as a spanish advanced military position overseas.
This volcanic activity happened, at least partially, below the Sea level. It has been supposed that what happened was that the volcanoes finally emerged as islands, creating an authentic volcanic archipelago. Around these small volcanic islands, in the middle of warm subtropical sea waters, grew abundantly the corals (Anthozoa – Cnidaria), building coastal atolls and reefs, that still can be seen very clearly in some locations at the National/Natural Park.
Hydrothermal fluids would change later the volcanic rocks composition, so as sometimes happened in the nearby Baetic Mountains, mineralizing them and generating so unique and abundant metallic deposits.
To understand the actual Cabo de Gata landscape we need to understand two different concepts: one is the Plates Tectonic movement, that is responsible of the slow raising of the rocks, so that submerged lands are now totally offshore; the second concept is the dryness of the area in whichit rains very scarcely… but when it does happen, usually water come down from the sky generously in only a moment (some minutes or hours), generating the so usual flash-floods that are the responsible of a high level of erosion, also so important to read and understand the actual configuration of Cabo de Gata volcanic landscape.
The main rocks that can be found in the area are basalts/andesites , ignimbrites/bentonites and lots of conglomerates everywhere. Some metamorphic rocks (micaschist/quartz) also can be found in the ramblas (temporary bed of seasonal rivers) but these materials really have been not generated in this area… but moved along time from the faraway Filabres and Alhamilla mountains, dragged with the water of the mentioned flash-floods.
Gold, silver and lead among other minerals, have been mined in the area along times since the ancient Roman Empire era, so as basalt cobbles were quarried for being used in the past 20th Century for paving roads in Almeria town and other main villages nearby or faraway.
Do you want to discover this amazing place and understand its geological landscape?. Join us in an unforgettable trip to the southernmost place of Europe.
Did you know that in Cabo de Gata National Park there is a place baptized (by me) as The Dwarf Causeway?? Can you imagin the reason for that???
Come and see our Almeria landscape volcanism in Cabo de Gata National Park.
In summer there are very rare times in which I go down to the gorges and death-valleys down at the bottom of the desert; but sometimes I like to take a break and switch-on the air conditioned devices in my 4×4 car …. and there I went.
Temperature beginning to warm up to 36ºC and life seeming to be stopped (11h00). That´s just the moment to run-off the car´s engine and wait, listen and prepare the camera. A rabbit comes out of its den, two rollers do appear from behind the top of the cliff, a big spider looks to me while she weaves its cobweb, some jackdows flying faraway… and so on, life goes forward as if I were not there. That´s the mistery, that´s the real experience of the desert summer ecology.
Time to remember the flash floods that do happen here in the badlands so frequently. How do these bigger or smaller creatures survive to the disaster happening in the Ouads (ramblas = dry beds of seasonal rivers) ???…
Travellers cannot imagine what is a flash-flood (rambla or avenida in spanish) till they do not see it with their own eyes. You don´t spot the water coming till it is just on your nose; you only can hear the terrible sound of bolders transported in front of the huge wave generated by the current; there it can be seen only foam, peaces of wood and other solid materials (pitifully plastics and scrap nowadays). That´s the experience although the adventure also happens for wildlife and any small creature and plants living on the place. Some of them will be washed down to the sea, and only the best adapted creatures will be the winners (Dr. Darwin´s evolution/adaption theory). That is the mistery of the desert, the pure desert ecology in summer time.
I really enjoyed my morning trip today in the badlands of Almeria at up to 34ºC… seeing that while I was suffering so much under the sun heat, my trip neighbours the rabbits and hares, felt so happy in their just built dens. Just pure ecology… It makes a sense.
I ended my morning trip designing new moments to be experienced by all of you coming soon… as for example walking inside this ancient qanaat of moor times. What is a qanaat?? … Book for your trip to the desert and sure that you will learn about it more than you can think. Come and see…
It has been in my mind since long time ago to discover the origin of my own culture, as a spaniard living in a border land, as it is Almeria. I was sure, absolutely sure…. after analyzing elements in our culture and our building and life style, that the link with amazigh people in Africa was obvious and very clear, because these tribes were living in our mountains for hundreds (perhaps thousands) of years… and they still have not disspeared, because we are a part of them.
Wrongly called berbers, they really don´t like this name that was given to them by the romans in ancient times, and does mean barbars. No… they really like to be called amazigh that does mean the free people. They live in the most simple way, far away of modernity and other wrong concepts, and with a huge smile in their faces… because they are and feel themselves absolutely and really free. Wisdom and freedom are common components of this civilization.
One morning I left home by plain, at the iberian peninsula, and flied down to north Africa… looking for the Rif Mountains; with a group of good collegues we passed through the strange place of Melilla border and came in a moment inside a wonderful and lost world for us, south-western europeans. My challenge was to discover my cultural roots so as to design new projects for travelling in the future on the wild with my clients.
Once there in Alhoceima (Morocco) we were gently attended by wise and kind persons that showed us the best of this corner of the northern Africa. Old villages in the mountains that reminded me exactly the ancient abandoned ones here in Almeria, places that talk about this old culture existing also at south Spain only some centuries ago. I couldn´t believe it, I thought it was a dream… but it was absolutely real: they do exist, and very proud of being as they are.
Biodiversity, genuine culture, traditional uses of the land, respect for human kind and much more values unable to be explained in only some lines… are the general cutlural landscapes that I perceived just from the first moment I stepped on the area. I smelled here the past times of my childhood, this nice Almeria that has been lost forever on the hands of “modernity”. I couldn´t believe what I was experiencing. Ladies transporting water in pottery jars, children playing with prickly-pear leaves, donkies as the only way of transport, traditional systems for storing water, simple but cleverly built houses… Everything, absolutely everything was in my mind: I was living again my childhood at my village of Gergal (Almeria) 45 years ago.
This is the real sustainability and not what we have built in other places of the world, so far from here but so nearby really. After this trip I breath now in a different way, more relaxed and with a smile in my face understanding that a different world is still possible. I felt also surprised when I discovered that my spanish christian name (Jesus) is also present in their language (Isa) and proud to see that their faces and eyes are the same ones than those of my people living here in the mountains and most hidden places. The same origin and the same identity, so as our deared indalo man (symbol of protection in Almeria lands) is exactly the same identity and protective figure than there, with only short variations in the way of placing the arms of the human figure: closed up upon the head in the indalo and open as a bow in the amazigh figure. Central Rif travelling across time and Filabres mountains linked to them in the same way.
The project was great and finally I am prepared and with proper contacts on the place for showing the osprey locations, rare reptiles and nice other birds to my regular clients. Dreaming with coming back to central Rif and meet my good friends there Joaquin of Hotel Casa Paca, Hakim Messaoudi and Anouar our local guide.
Life is different for me after visiting Central Rif. Now I think in a different way and I understand much better our cultural heritage, our history and how time passes by.
Central Rif travelling across time… why not to visit it?