There are many hidden places in the province of Almería and one of my new favourite “secret” places is Barranco de la Cerra de Guainos. Of course it’s not really secret but it IS tricky to find and it IS a tricky walk and it IS narrow.
Photograph by Jesus Contreras
Barranco de la Cerra de Guainos is a gorge that runs from the rambla just outside Adra up into the mountains behind and is very narrow in some places so if you suffer claustrophobia, this isn’t the place for you! It’s a beautiful gorge with a stream (arroyo) running through, actually the Río Adra and I can imagine it’s not a safe place to be when there is a downpour of rain. The only way to access certain parts of this gorge is by using the staples drilled into the rocks so if you suffer vertigo, this isn’t the place for you! There are also a number of places where the only way onwards is by climbing over slippery rocks so if you’re nervous about “scrambling” over difficult terrain, this isn’t the place for you! In fact, if you prefer your walking / hiking to be in flat, open and easy-to-access places, I’d stay well away from here unless you just want to see the opening, which IS worth seeing. Having said this and probably scared you away, it is a stunning place and those inclined to be a bit more adventurous, are well rewarded.
Photograph of Jesus Contreras
The wild-life along Barranco de la Cerra de Guainos is fantastic; frogs, Natterjack Toad, lizard and boar all coexist with numerous birds singing their sweet songs. There is plenty of lush vegetation dotted along the edge of the river such as willows, Oleander, Tamarisk and white poplars.
The Río Adra has also provided water and fertile land to many different civilisations, e.g. Phoenicians, Romans and Moors, which have all settled here over the centuries. You can still see evidence of their irrigation systems (ponds, ditches & overhead aqueducts) and their flour mills, also powered by (columns of) water. When you consider how difficult it is to simply walk along the gorge, you can appreciate that these irrigation systems and structures are quite amazing engineering achievements for the time they were constructed.
Further downstream at the delta of the Río Adra are the coastal lagoons known as La Albufera de Adra, classified as a Nature Reserve and created over the years in the coastal bays area closed off to the sea by sediment deposits.
These lagoons house a rich variety of flora and fauna and are internationally considered to be a wetland of high ecological importance. You can identify more than 140 species of birds including the white-headed duck, the bastard nightingale, the great reed warbler, the great crested grebe, the coot, the mallard and the pochard.
Egret taking flight
Shortly after our walk back to the car from the Barranco de la Cerra de Guainos, we met an 82 year old man whom we stopped and chatted to for a bit. After our chat, this 82 year old man climbed up the side of a mountain quicker than I’ve seen most goats climb – amazing!