Barranco de la Cerra de Guainos

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

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

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

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!

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Los Vélez

I’m always on the lookout for new places to take people with the ultimate goal of showing all the natural beauty of Parque Natural de Cabo de Gata and the surrounding areas and of course promoting utmost respect for the environment at all times.

Sierra María-Los Vélez

Sierra María-Los Vélez

Designated a natural park in 1987, the Sierra María-Los Vélez occupies the eastern end of the Cordillera Subbética in the north of Almeria province. A landscape of impressive contrasts, with its arid plains overlooked by the Sierra’s rocky summits, which are white with snow in winter. The park’s altitude ranges from 800m to the highest peak of María, a barren limestone outcrop of 2,045m.

Unusually for the otherwise arid and barren mountain ranges in Almeria, the Sierra is clothed in extensive pine forests and woodland, some of the best preserved in the province. It supports a varied flora with nearly half of all plant species in Almeria province found here, including some unique to the Sierra.

Iglesia de la Encarnación

Iglesia de la Encarnación

The small town of Vélez Rubio is in a picturesque setting, surrounded by sierras, olive groves and fields of wheat and graced by the nearby Fuente de Gato, a surprisingly busy area.

The main monument of note in the town is the magnificent Baroque Iglesia (Church) de la Encarnación which can be found on the plaza of the same name. Built in the 18th century, this has an imposing carved facade which includes the arms of the Marquises of Villafranca y Vélez, who built it. Inside, the main altar has a superbly detailed, 20-metre-high carved wood retablo. We had a drink and tapas opposite this magnificent building.

The prehistoric cave paintings of the Cueva de los Letreros, close to the town are supposed to be spectacular and contain the original “Indalo Man” painting which has become the symbol of Almería.

From the road into Vélez Blanco coming from Vélez Rubio

From the road into Vélez Blanco coming from Vélez Rubio

Nestling at the foot of a rocky outcrop about 6km north of Vélez Rubio is the small whitewashed village of Vélez Blanco, Personally, I liked this town better than Vélez Rubio because of it’s position and views over open country. That’s not to say that I didn’t also find Vélez Rubio beautiful!

On top of the hill is a stunning Renaissance castle, an extension of the original Moorish alcazaba built by the Marquises of Vélez Blanco in the 16th century. The town is surrounded by almond trees and what an amazing sight they were too, all in blossom.

Fuente del Gato (Vélez-Rubio)

Fuente del Gato (Vélez-Rubio)

Also worth a quick mention because it was so busy, is the picnic area of Fuente del Gato (Fountain of the Cat). The Fuente del Gato is located just outside the town of Vélez Rubio in La Rambla de Chivirel. It is a natural water source and the water is high in iron content and as you might expect (or not) is delivered through the head of a cat.

This particular visit to Los Vélez was purely spontaneous on our way back from Murcia. We will return later this week and look around in more detail, perhaps even combining the visit with another place we’ve been thinking of returning to… watch this space to learn more 🙂

If you would like to visit this beautiful area or any of the places I have written about in previous posts and take part in a guided photography experience, please do not hesitate to contact me – I would love to welcome you to my part of the world.

Contact details:

Martyn Thompson – Landscape Photography
http://martynthompson.net
https://martynthompsonphotography.wordpress.com
martyn@martynthompson.net
Facebook / Twitter / Etsy / Flickr


Sierra de Gádor

View of plastic greehouses (poniente region of Almería)

View of plastic greenhouses ("poniente" region of Almería)

Sierra de Gádor is a mountain range located in the southwestern tip of the province of Almeria. Its maximum height is 2,249m (Morron de la Launilla). Other heights are Pecho Cuchillo (1,968m.), Dos Hermanas (1,991m.), Nuevo Mundo ( 2,107m.) and Morron de los Franceses (2,236m.). It is 50 km long and 20 km at its widest, with a total area of 86,000 ha. It is a relatively small mountainous area with steeply rising tracks that my poor car struggled with.

I visited the Sierra Gádor yesterday with Jesus Contreras of Oz Nature and my saxophone – well why not?

View of Sierra Nevada & Almond blossom

View of Sierra Nevada & Almond blossom

The Sierra de Gádor lies between the Sierra Nevada to the north, the Mediterranean Sea to the south, Sierra Alhamilla to the east, and Sierra de La Contraviesa to the west . At its foot is the “Poniente” region of Almería, traditionally called the “Campo de Dalias”. The zone above 1,800m is known locally as “El Pelao” which can have very low temperatures in winter and early spring. There certainly was plenty of ice about (and a little snow) during our visit yesterday!

Parasitic plant - Cistanche phelypaea

Parasitic plant - Cistanche phelypaea

Sierra de Gádor hosts a range of very interesting flora and fauna, so the fact that it does not have any kind of protection status is not understandable. Its main woodlands are made up of reafforestation carried out over the last third of the 20th century, though it is still possible to find wide areas of Holm Oak, and in the wettest areas, small forests of Acers and Portuguese Oak. On the summits, brooms are predominant. Of the rich and varied flora, plants endemic to this range, Coronopus navasii and Astragalus tremolsianus stand out.

Invertebrates are the most numerous group, butterflies standing out for their importance, this Sierra being listed as an area of special lepidopterological interest. The presence of more than 130 species of birds make it one of the best areas for ornithology in the province too. Among the mammals, the most significant presence is the mountain goat, coming from the nearby Sierra Nevada. Much more numerous is the wild boar that is found all over the territory.

To the north west of the Sierra de Gádor lies a series of small villages (pueblos), we had lunch in a beautiful venta in one such village and made our way then to Las Canales de Padules. Padules a beautiful town belonging to the Alto Andarax, located west of the province of Almería in a mainly agricultural area whose main wealth is in the cultivation of vineyards and olive. Still retains its urban harmony and traditional features, which gives an air of calm and tranquility, enhanced by the Church of Moorish style.

Las Canales de Padules

Las Canales de Padules

A little outside the pueblo of Padules is a network of waterways known as Las Canales de Padules. Water flows into this network through a natural gorge and is then re-directed by a series of man-made channels to where it is used for irrigation, etc. During the town’s many fiestas, it is common to see people bathing in the water and picnicking by the waterside. There is even an area adjacent to the water specifically assigned for setting up a make-shift bar!

In summary, it was an amazing day out full of learning and visiting the hidden gems of Almería i.e., the “real” Spain. The day was interspersed with playing the saxophone in various locations which at one point, attracted a pair of Golden Eagles! Unfortunately though it took too long to pack away may equipment and get the camera out to get some good photographs.

Watch this space for Oz Nature & Music!

Contact details:

Martyn Thompson – Landscape Photography
http://martynthompson.net
https://martynthompsonphotography.wordpress.com
martyn@martynthompson.net
Facebook / Twitter / Etsy / Flickr

Oz nature
http://www.indalodeoz.com/
http://www.andalucia.org/turismo-y-deporte/almeria/oz-nature-wildlife
indalodeoz@indalodeoz.com
Facebook / YouTube / DepositPhoto

Andalucía es de cine – Cabo de Gata

Two truly fantastic movies showing the beauty of the area I live in, the area that I would love to show YOU around!!

Contact me to learn more (details below).

Contact details:

Martyn Thompson – Landscape Photography
http://martynthompson.net
https://martynthompsonphotography.wordpress.com
martyn@martynthompson.net
Facebook / Twitter / Etsy / Flickr

Andalucía’s spaghetti western province

Here’s a great article by the Telegraph website that supports everything I’ve been saying 🙂 So, come on over and let’s visit these areas together and you can take a wonderful photography experience at the same time!

Moorish marvel: the Alcazaba dominates the city of Almería

Moorish marvel: the Alcazaba dominates the city of Almería

Photograph used taken from http://www.telegraph.co.uk website.

Here is the article: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sponsored/travel/spain/andalucia/9083721/Almeria-Andalucia.html

This is also good but is more generally Andalucia: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sponsored/travel/spain/andalucia/

Contact details:

Martyn Thompson – Landscape Photography
http://martynthompson.net
https://martynthompsonphotography.wordpress.com
martyn@martynthompson.net
Facebook / Twitter / Etsy / Flickr

Birdwatching Field Trip in Los Velez

BIRDWATCHING FIELD TRIP IN LOS VELEZ   / ENCUENTRO ORNITOLOGICO EN LOS VELEZ
ALMERIA  25
. 02 . 2012

A friend of mine is organising this excellent good value event. Details as follows:

BIRDWATCHING FIELD TRIP IN LOS VELEZ / ENCUENTRO ORNITOLOGICO EN LOS VELEZ

BIRDWATCHING FIELD TRIP IN LOS VELEZ / ENCUENTRO ORNITOLOGICO EN LOS VELEZ

On Saturday 25 February, we will finally hold our birdwatching meeting in the Comaraca de los Vélez (Almería).

We will meet at the Cafetería del Hotel Velad al Abyadh (Vélez Blanco) at 09.00h.

To register, contact Jesus Contreras – indalodeoz@indalodeoz.com For administrative reasons, registration is open until Thursday 23, at 20:00.

To view the field trip programme in English, please click here

================

El sábado día 25 de Febrero, celebraremos finalmente nuestro encuentro ornitológico en la comaraca de los Vélez (Almería).

Punto de encuentro en la Cafetería del Hotel Velad al Abyadh (Vélez Blanco) a las 09.00h.

Para inscripciones, contactar con Jesus Contreras en indalodeoz@indalodeoz.com. Por motivos organizativos, se limita la posibilidad de inscripción hasta el jueves 23, a las 20:00h.

Para ver el programa en castellano, pulse aqui

Lista de aves de Almeria / Almeria birds checklist

http://www.unique-almeria.com/birds-of-spain.html

Price: for ANDALUCIA BIRD SOCIETY members it is free. For non members the price is €25. / Precio:  para SOCIEDAD ORNITOLÓGICA ANDALUZA miembros es gratis. Para no miembros el precio es €25.

Jesus Contreras
Field manager

OZ NATURE WILDLIFE ALMERIA
Birdwatching  &  Wildlife Trips
Geography Field Trips , Time Tours & Field Locations

Almeria . Eastern Andalusia . Spain

Tlf: +34 626260641
e: indalodeoz@indalodeoz.com / indalodeoz@gmail.com
Skype: jesus.contreras41

www.youtube.com/user/indalodeoz
http://www.indalodeoz.com

http://www.andalucia.org/turismo-y-deporte/almeria/oz-nature-wildlife

http://www.facebook.com/Indalotanit

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

One of my (many) favourite places in the Province of Almeria is the Desierto de Tabernas (Tabernas Desert) or “Badlands” and I have been there many times. One of my favourite blog posts relates to a previous visit to Tabernas which you can read here.

Yesterday I took two clients to the Desierto de Tabernas as although they were regular visitors to the Parque Natural de Cabo de Gata, they had not really strayed further than the many beautiful coastal paths. The weather was quite variable resulting in some seriously moody skies and some very special light, especially towards the end of the day – the lighting conditions actually couldn’t have been better.

I’ve created a slide-show of photographs I took yesterday and hope you like them. I do not pretend to know all of the flora & fauna of the area and welcome comments in this respect.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Anyone interested in taking a photography experience to the Desierto de Tabernas, please contact me.

Martyn Thompson – Landscape Photography
http://martynthompson.net
https://martynthompsonphotography.wordpress.com
martyn@martynthompson.net
Facebook / Twitter / Etsy / Flickr

In addition to the photography experiences I offer to these Badlands, my good friend Jesus Contreras of Oz Nature offers the most fantastic Geography field trips. These are well worth attending and very educational. His contact details are given below.

Oz nature
http://www.indalodeoz.com/
http://www.andalucia.org/turismo-y-deporte/almeria/oz-nature-wildlife
indalodeoz@indalodeoz.com
Facebook / YouTube / DepositPhoto