Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park, near the city of Almería, is the largest terrestrial-maritime reserve in the European Western Mediterranean Sea, covering 460 km² including the town of Carboneras, the mountain range of Sierra de Cabo de Gata, and 120 km² of the sea as a part of a Marine reserve. It is of volcanic origin and is centred around the Cabo de Gata headland.
Its climate is semiarid to the extent of being the driest location in Europe. In 1997 it was designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. In 2001 it was included among the Specially Protected Areas of Mediterranean Importance. In 2010 it was proposed as a dump for nuclear waste.
Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park is characterised by volcanic rock formations - lava flows, volcanic domes, volcanic calderas.
The area is semi-arid, the average temperature is 18°C and it has the lowest rainfall in the Iberian peninsula and the whole of Europe, its average precipitation being a mere 120 to 180mm annually.
Between the village of San Miguel and the Cabo de Gata point are salt flats (Las Salinas de Cabo de Gata) separated from the sea by a 400m sand bar.
Church of La Almadraba de Monteleva
The charms of San Miguel de Cabo de Gata, a small fishing village attached to the city of Almería, lie in it´s surroundings, which includes the longest beach in the park, and the `Salinas´, a vast wetland where salt is extracted and a popular spot for lovers of Ornithology, who will be able to spot more than 80 species of birds here over the course of the year.
El Faro de Cabo de Gata
Capricious nature, helped a little by the hand of man, has slowly moulded the arid Cabo de Gata, gradually giving the cape it´s present day beauty and biodiversity.
To explore these somewhat baron lands is to explore a world of volcanic origin with flora and forna, sheer cliffs, awe inspiring backdrops and dramatic panoramic views (which I have endevoured to include in this website), stunning beaches boasting crystal clear waters that rival any tropical location, fortresses echoing the Spanish history and culture which is also embedded in the Andalucian townsfolk who dwell here today.
San Miguel de Cabo de Gata
Flamingo´s at The saltworks at La Almadraba de Monteleva
Continuing south, driving around the mountain side, you will come to the Cabo de Gata lighthouse after La Almadraba de Monteleva, where the entrance to the saltwoks is located, watched over by the pointed bell tower of the mysterious church of the saltworks. From its belevedere, there is a breathtaking view of the Arrecife de las Sirenas, which owes it´s origin to a volcanic chimney, and it name to an old legend. Up until 1974, the reef was occupied by a colony of monk seals, whose calls made sailors uneasy as they were unaware of the existence of the animal and so associated the cries with the songs of sirens. Not far off is another attractive reef, known as El Dedo, on which the Torre de la Vela Blanca stands. The watchtower was built in the 18th century and looks out over La Media Luna, Mónsul and Los Genoveses, San José, and can only be reached by foot.