Today we decided to put on our tourist hats and visit the Cabo de Gata.
Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park in the south-eastern corner of Spain, is Andalucia’s largest coastal protected area, a wild and isolated landscape with some of Europe’s most original geological features. It is the only region in Europe with a true hot desert climate. The eponymous mountain range of the Sierra del Cabo de Gata with its highest peak El Fraile is Spain’s largest volcanic rock formation with sharp peaks and crags in red/ochre-hues. It falls steeply to the Mediterranean Sea creating jagged 100-metre (330 ft) high cliffs, which are riven by gullies leading to hidden coves with white sandy beaches, some of the most beautiful in Andalucia. Source: Wikipedia
The photos below are taken in the north of the Park, the landscape is slightly greener than the south. It is a pretty barren landscape all in all and feels very desolate, everything here is the result of volcanic activity. The area is home to all kinds of rare plants and wildlife including butterflies, lizards, scorpions, eagles and flamingos. Many species found here are not found anywhere else.
Yet again the satnav took us down an interesting route. This one wound its way down around the mountain, I am glad we did not meet something coming the other way!
First of all we visited the small fishing village of Las Negras. It has lots of 1970s apartments behind the beach, they are all low-level but very unattractive. The beach area with the boats is pretty and the rocks around make a very stunning cove. Las Negras has a bohemian feel to it and people who come here really do want to get away from it all.
I was expecting this place to be just a single cafe and literally a couple of houses but there are a few streets of homes, which surprised me a bit.
This place has plenty of natural beauty, it is fairly built up but it has not been done badly. There are a large range of restaurants and shops in the town, which is just a tad commericalised – plenty of tapas bars and seafood restaurants! The marina is pretty and there are lots of villas perched on the hills, which must have fabulous views.
There are plenty of other villages in the park to visit, some of them starred in movies such as The Good the Bad and the Ugly and Raiders of the Lost Ark but we are just on a day trip! Next we went off to take a look at the most southerly tip of the Cabo de Gata.
Faro (lighthouse) de Cabo de Gata
The lighthouse was constructed 1863 on the ruins of the castle of San Francisco de Paula, which was destroyed by Napolean during the War of Independence. The cliff is 50 meters high plus the lighthouse height of 18 meters and the light is visible for 30 miles. It is the reef, Cape Laja, that is the danger and has caused many shipwrecks.
There is a viewpoint here and the views all around are stunning. It is very craggy and wild and they clearly have some storms and rough seas. It’s not too different from Lands End apart from the weather! It really feels like we are in the desert now, the heat is intense.
The white rocks are really beautiful at Cala Raja Cove. The large one is called Vela Blanca, the white sail. I thought originally these might be salt but they are volcanic formations called ignimbrite, a mixture of volcanic ash composed of glass shards and crystal fragments.
There was plenty of time for a swim and stick chasing at the beach. The volcanic rock at the beach had some interesting formations.
This area is not all natural beauty, the saltworks at Salinas are a blot on the landscape along with the run down property nearby. I suppose that is the price we have to pay if we want salt. I would also recommend giving San Miguel village and it’s avenue of beachside shacks a swerve!
The salt marshes themselves are beautiful though, attracting Flamingos and lots of other wading birds. You are not allowed to get too near, viewing huts are provided for you to take photographs but you can see how far away we were, the flamingos are the white dots on the water …
My camera tried but the zoom was not quite up to it …