Cabo de Gata

This itinerary begins by taking the N.2340 road in the direction of Murcia. The town of Rioja is located 14km from Almeria, close to the Valley of the river Andarax and surrounded by orange groves. As we travel further away from Rioja, the vegetation gives way to the desert areas of Campo de Tabernas. At the crossroads with the road that leads to Granada, the traveller is recommended to stop for a while to take in the contrast in scenery of the Sierra Alhamilla. There are holm oaks on the summits, desert areas on the sides, and oasis-like areas at the foot of the mountains. The desert areas have helped to foment a thriving film industry here, and several towns in the style of the old American West have been built. One of the most important can be visited quite close to the aforementioned crossroads, following a turn-off to the right of the main road. As a matter of fact, there is a road that starts from this town and leads to El Colativi, right at the top of the Sierra Almahilla. The difficulties encountered on this route are more than compensated for since once can enjoy the beautiful panoramic views to be had of the Campo de Tabernas, the Campo de Nijar, and the entire coastline, all from a height of 1,387m above sea level.

After passing the "American" town, the itinerary continues along the N.340 for a further 7km until the small town of Tabernas is reached. It stands on the slopes of a hill, crowned with the ruins of an Arab fortress. The parish church was built in the middle of the 16th century and several interesting archaeological sites have been found nearby. Due to the high level of sunlight in this province, a solar energy plant has been built at Los Retamares, aimed at improving the techniques for the production of electricity from the steam produced through the heat of the sun's radiation.

Sorbas les 26km from Tabernas on the meseta of a mountain that is completely cut-off and surrounded by the river Aguas. Its slopes form a natural moat and are dotted with houses. The people of this town are great potters and make objects of an extremely high quality. One kilometre outside Sorbas, we leave the N.340 and take a turn-off to the right along a local road leading to Cortijada de los Molinos del Rio Aguas. The road, although very winding in certain stretches, is wide and has a solid surface. From Molinos it is possible to get down to the river in order to see freshwater tortoise and the unusual Moorish tortoise, as well as the gypseous areas. Nearby there exists a network of caves in crystallised gypsum which have inner lagoons running beneath the desert areas. Our itinerary continues to La Venta del Pobre, where we come across the Natural Park of Cabo de Gata-Nijar. The Sierra de Cabo de Gata spreads along the coast, forming a steep and rugged coastline. It is one of the most important volcanic formations on the Iberian Peninsula. There are several towns and villages within the Natural Park that are well worth a visit. Agua Amarga, near Carboneras, San Pedro and Las Negras are fishermen's districts with fine beaches. Nine kilometres away from Las Negras stands Rodalquilar, which has a delightful beach as well as San Ramon Castle.

La Isleta del Moro, Los Escullos and El Pozo de los Frailes are all passed on the way to San Jose, and their whitewashed houses and coastal fortifications serve as a reminder of a bygone age. San Jose is 14km from Rodalquivir and has grown from being a small fishing village into having a 200 berth marina for both private and temporary use, as well as a camp-site that is open during Holy Week. The crystal-clear waters and the great variety of marine life make the entire coastline a perfect setting for underwater photographic expeditions.

From San Jose, those visitors who enjoy excursions can continue along the coastline, passing the beaches of Los Genoveses and Monsul, and come to Vela Blanca, near the Cabo de Gata lighthouse. Here the beautiful scenery of cliffs and coves can be enjoyed to the full. Those interested in walking may like to cover the 21km of asphalted road between San Jose and the lighthouse on foot. This road passes through the district of Cabo de Gata and its beaches, as well as the salt pans which are one of the few examples of harmony achieved between industrial processes and maintaining the ecological balance. Rasa lagoon is a nesting site for migratory birds on the wing form Europe to Africa. Leaving behind the district of Cabo de Gata, the road continues through El Alquian, the airport and La Cañada before finally leading back to Almeria, some 25km away.

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