Moving further north-east along the Spanish mediterranean coast we finally made it to visit Cabo de Gata, an ancient volcanic area which is the driest area in Europe.
We had been looking forward to visiting this area for some time, so were a little disappointed to find that the dreaded plastic came right up to the edge of this protected natural park. Not only that, but it was worse than anywhere else we had been so far – shanty huts and towns (complete with garages and satellite dishes) were in evidence everywhere. The saddest sight was massive sheets of plastic discarded amongst the landscape..
This did all stop, of course, as soon as you entered the park proper, but only right at the edge.
We found a camper stop in Albaricoques; Camper Park Olivades, which was absolutely perfect for us (at 13Euros per night we had toilets, showers, laundry and electric). There are many film locations (particularly spaghetti Westerns) in this area, and Albaricoques is no exception hosting the stars of For a Few Dollars More (film name of the town – Agua Caliente), amongst other films. The streets pay homage to this history, bearing names such as Calle Clint Eastwood, Lee van Cleef and Ennio Morricone.
On the edge of the park (near the main N344 road) there are 3 big theme parks based on Westerns – I would love to have visited one of these, but they were prohibitively expensive (in that we weren’t prepared to part with that sort of money!)
You need to either be a serious cyclist or have a car to explore the area properly. In our few days there we drove around the whole area, but perhaps missed out on some of the internal villages. We enjoyed Las Negras on the coast not too far from Los Albaricoques (there were many, many campers wild camping in this area), Isleta del Moro (a small village with many sailing and surf schools – and again, many wild campers) and San Jose, which is perhaps a little more commercialised. It has a lovely beach, though fully overlooked by the restaurants in the harbour.
On the other side of San Jose you can access some wild, windswept beaches down a rough track. The one we stopped at Monsul beach which is back by a huge dune; the walk down to the beach from the car park shows evidence of outdoor showers – I don’t know why that stuck with me; I guess you’d probably be more interested in the couple sunbathing nude on top of the dune….. (no pictures, sorry!)
Of course, we also visited the Cabo de Gata itself (which is a little like visiting Lands End or The Lizard in Cornwall). We continued on for a while and then went back to get the car and take the narrow, really rather scary road (pot-holed track), up to the lighthouse. I’m glad Calv was driving…. (Don’t attempt it if you care about your car..!)
There were some spectacular views from up there (plus lots of tracks off the main track taking you down to hidden beaches and coves). We could also see that it was possible to walk (or even drive if you had the keys to get through the gates) along the edge of the cliffs to get to the beaches at San Jose. I wouldn’t have fancied driving that track at all, but Calv would have liked to have a go!!
Probably our favourite day (well, mine anyway) was when we went for a walk into the caldera of an ancient extinct volcano, Caldera de Majada Redonda. Not a particularly long walk (but long enough) but lots to see along the way, including the site of a house high up in the hills and an abandoned (?) car filled with rocks! (Calv insists that this car shell must have been carried up the mountain..)
I would definitely recommend taking a couple of hours to do this walk 🙂
Before heading back to the van we quickly visited the coast again at Las Escullos, where there was a trio of men taking photos of jeans laid out on the rocks! Some more unusual landscapes to appreciate here.
A definite recommendation for a visit when in Spain – certainly different to what you normally see in the Costas 🙂
We stayed: Camper Park Olivades
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