Cabo De Gata Natural Park: from San Miguel de Cabo de Gata to Almeria

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Author Alessandro 11 January 2022
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Let’s explore some of the lesser known places of the Cabo de Gata National Park, but with very suggestive panoramic views and many natural and historical-cultural spots.

This walk does not present particular problems, but the length of the path and various sandy stretches can make it difficult to walk. If you don’t feel ready to tackle the whole route in a single stage, you can divide it. In the map below we have indicated the parkings where it is possible to stop to start separated stages.

The information we provide, truthful today, refers to a natural and changing environment. Paths and passages could disappear over time and weather conditions could make a previously simple route difficult.

Make sure you have adequate physical preparation, have taken the appropriate safety measures and have well studied the route.

The map: from San Miguel de Cabo de Gata to Almeria

In the map below we have marked the car parks where we stopped during the day (indicated as parking-day) and those where we slept without disturbance or warnings from the police (parking-night), the historical points of interest (brown) , the natural ones (green), beaches (yellow) and we have indicated where it is possible to obtain water and throw away the garbage (separate collection).

Last but not least, we have marked in fuchsia and with the symbol of waste sorting the places encountered that are in an exaggerated state of decay due to the accumulation of waste.

Places where we have already personally collected some of the waste and in which we hope that others besides us will follow this initiative as well as those who follow us and will go there, as the local administrations do not seem willing to deal with it.

Places, again, which without personal measures of this type in the very near future will no longer be usable by anyone, but which with a small contribution in collecting some waste can return as clean and natural as they already were.

We didn’t have any problem in the parkings we marked on the map but in the future the parking of camping car and vans could no longer be tolerated (especially during the night).

In the same way, the water distribution, WC drainage and garbage collection points could be closed or moved.

Where to park: San Miguel de Cabo de Gata

Parking Camper San Miguel de Cabo de Gata
Parking Camper San Miguel de Cabo de Gata

Our base: San Miguel de Cabo de Gata

Traditional fishing village, but recently oriented towards agriculture and tourism, San Miguel de Cabo de Gata is a little town in the Cabo de Gata Natural Park.

Commonly named as Cabo de Gata, with only 1500 inhabitants, it’s one of the main villages of the park, 28 km east of Almeria, on the west side of the Cabo de Gata promontory.

Several services (including restaurants, bars, ice cream parlors, some little supermarkets), the comfortable parkings by the sea and the location - central to the eastern side of the bay of Almeria - make it the perfect starting point for our exploration of the east side of the bay of Almeria and towards the Cabo de Gata lighthouse.

Playa de San Miguel e Torreon de Gata

Playa de San Miguel de Cabo de Gata
Playa de San Miguel de Cabo de Gata

Known as the Playa de Cabo de Gata, it is a sandy beach, great for swimming, 2 and a half kilometers long and 90 meters wide, of which 500 flanked by the promenade along the seafront.

It is part of a wide strip of sandy and wild coast, of sedimentary origin formed 15 million years ago, which extends from Playa de La Cañada (in Almeria) to Playa de la Fabriquilla.

It has no naturism areas but it has planty of services such as showers, bathrooms, bars, restaurants, chiringuitos, access for the disabled emergency service (in high season). All this, combined with its waters high quality, made it a UE blue flag.

Many are also the nautical activities, especially pedal boats (here called patines), kayaking and paddle surfing.

The Playa de San Miguel also has the most beautiful view over the bay of Almeria, truly splendid at sunset.

Torreón de San Miguel (o Torreon de Gata)

Torreon de Gata
Torreon de Gata

At the easternmost point of the Playa de San Miguel stands the Torreón de San Miguel, or Torreon de Gata, a defensive tower dating between the 17th and the 18th century, built under Fernando VI reign to defend the salt pans and the city of La Almadraba from attacks.

Abandoned after the Independence War, it became the property of the Civil Guard in 1941, but fell into disuse again after some times.

At the moment the Torreón de San Miguel is not legally open to visitors, but the state of decay - although there is a project for the recovery and restoration - has led to the collapse of a part of the walls that surround it to the west, making it possible to access. So it’s not strange to see couples sitting on the top contemplating the sunset.

Around this tower the fishermen of the city of San Miguel de Cabo de Gata let their boats during the day, after night fishing. On the back of the tower starts a sand promenade with several stalls.

Playa de San Miguel de Cabo de Gata
Playa de San Miguel de Cabo de Gata

Playa del Charco

Continuing by bike or on foot along the coast, in Almeria direction, immediately outside the town of San Miguel de Cabo de Gata you will find the Playa del Charco, which can also be covered for a certain distance by car, van or camper (but watch out for the sand!).

Wild coast, very beautiful and clean, it has no structure except a couple of chiringuitos.

Out of season the only human beings you meet are local fishermen and a few, rare tourists, especially Germans and Dutch.

To the north, the beach borders an immense park with an arid and desert-like appearance, where small shrubs grow on low sandy dunes and, only in the distance, some palm trees.

Albufera de Rambla de Morales

Albufera de Rambla de Morales
Albufera de Rambla de Morales

Playa del Charco is lapped to the west by the Albufera de Rambla de Morales, a lagoon generated by the mouth of a intermittent river: la Rambla de Morales.

The Ramblas, semi-arid climates typical river, are dry, except in periods of heavy rain, concentrated in a few days between late spring and early autumn (phenomenon known as the cold drop).

During these rare events they generate strong outflows which are channeled towards the sea.

The large amount of water and sediments transported sometimes causes the break of the beach-barrier and therefore the disappearance of the lagoon - previously interrupted by the accumulation of coastal sediments - with reconstitution of the mouth, up to a new accumulation of sediments.

A small mirror of crystalline water, the Albufera de Rambla de Morales shelters seagulls, flamingos, malvasias, avocets, storks and different types of ducks. We recommend that you bring binoculars for bird watching!

Albufera de Rambla de Morales
Albufera de Rambla de Morales

Along the natural channel you pass from a humid lagoon environment, characterized by plants of Cortaderia selloana and Arundo donax to arid and desert areas where only plants resistant to extreme climates, such as jujube, immortelle and pita.

Among the vegetation, in addition to birds, it is easy to spot long-tailed lizards and sand beetles.

Swimming in this area or observing the surface of the water it will not be difficult to spot groups of loggerhead turtles. In fact, near the mouth of the Rambla de Morales we find a nesting area for these sea turtles.

Rambla de Morales
Rambla de Morales

The Albufera ends where some agricultural greenhouses begin, at which point you pass on its western shore, and retrace it until you return to the beach.

Playa de las Amoladeras

3,750 meters of gravel and coarse sand beach , wild, with no structure or service.

There are no rubbish bins. So, if we decide to eat or we produce any types of waste, let’s make sure to clean everything, in order not to damage the ecosystem.

Playa de las Amoladeras owes its name to the amoladeras, that in spanish means millstones, and it refears to the millstones produced in the province of Almeria that were sold here.

Playa de las Amoladeras
Playa de las Amoladeras

Generally exposed to winds, which form the spectacular dune system that characterizes the landscape.

You can distinguish a stabilized dune system, when the sands come from the contributions of the beach, and a system of free dunes, originating from the action of the west wind, which strips the land and makes the rocks emerge.

The fossil dune that occupies a large part of its surface, very important for the study of the geological evolution of this area over the last 250,000 years, is the reason why it was included among the seven integral terrestrial reserves of the park.

On the north of the dirt road that runs along the beach there is theAmoladeras Visitor Center (accessible by car from the road that connects San Miguel to El Toyo).

The center has a reception area, a projection room and three exhibition spaces - part of which is dedicated to the marine ecosystems of the park.

The center gives visitors an interesting synthesis of the aspects that characterized the anthropization of this protected space since the Neolithic and how its volcanic origin and the semi-desert climate allowed only the existence of plants adapted to extreme situations.

Our Observations: A Critique

On the entire route from San Miguel to El Toyo you encounter nothing.

Playa de las Amoladeras
Playa de las Amoladeras

No place to eat, to drink or even just to shelter. And as we have already pointed out, there are no rubbish bins.

Of course, the lack of bins does not justify incivility. But considering the facts, these incredibly wild and natural beaches end up being dirty.

In our opinion, it is a pity that such a beautiful and unique environment end up dirty.

Maybe few restaurateurs can be allowed to install some chiringuito along the route.

Maybe the concession could be given in exchange for cleaning the beach. The vehicles are there, we saw them parked in San Miguel, so why not use them? The proceeds from tourism would make it possible to repay the gasoline and the work and would attract much more visitors.

Or, even without complex procedures such as this one, could be organized volunteer days, as common in Italy, aimed at cleaning up the environment, with prize competitions for those who collect the most waste.

Another point. In our opinion, the installation of some shelter along the route would also be desirable.

As many know, beaches are the most dangerous places in case of thunderstorms. And in this space the vegetation rare and low, risking to make us a lightning rod, in case of unexpected thunderstorms. As higher elements of the surrounding environment.

We hope that some action concerning this problems will be taken in the future.

Playa de las Amoladeras bunker casemate

Bunker Playa de las Amoladeras
Bunker Playa de las Amoladeras

Along the dirt path closest to the sea, halfway between the Albufera de Rambla de Morales and the beginning of Playa Torre García, there is one of the several unmarked bunkers that we will encounter along this route (GPS coordinates 36.81849, -2.28921).

Very few information can be found on the spot: No information billboard or mention in the brochures of the tourist offices.

For type of building and the location made us guess it was A WW2 bunker.

Although the dimensions, the quantity of concrete and the diameter of the rods are considerably lower than those of the Northern European and Italian bunkers, the material used and the construction techniques gave us the almost certainty that it was a military structure erected in that period.

In particular, the stratification at different times with the evident use of different and irregular formwork confirmed that it had been built in a hurry, during a war period with ongoing fighting.

Bunker Playa de las Amoladeras
Bunker Playa de las Amoladeras

The possibilities therefore narrowed down to Spanish Civil War and WW2.

Both Hila and I were therefore almost certain that the Playa de las Amoladeras Bunker was a World War II defensive building.

But, given the modalities of Spain entry into the Second World War, it seemed strange to both that a series of fortifications had to be built so quickly in that area.

We will discover later that these are bunkers built during the Spanish Civil War but following war events that go beyond both this and the WW2.

Rambla de las Amoladeras and El Pochico

After Playa de las Amoladeras, just before the start of the Playa di Torregarcía there is the mouth of the Rambla de las Amoladeras (or Cañada de la Higuera), a another example of an intermittent river.

The Amoladeras is a flat area that reaches a maximum height of 50 meters above sea level, formed by recent sedimentary materials (250 - 95 thousand years), originating from the Sierra Alhamilla erosion.

Turning right and going up the canal towards the hinterland, about 300 meters from the sea, on the west side of the waterway, there is an ancient structure in the shape of a chimney.

El Pochico
El Pochico

It is an almost certainly Roman masonry well, known as El Pochico, El Pozo de Torre García or El Pozo de la Rambla de las Amoladeras.

The well is still functioning. The amount of water accumulated is variable: greater when it rains for a long time and less or empty during long periods of drought.

Its particular appearance, with a 5 m above ground curb, due to the erosive action of water and winds and to the human extractive action (which transporting away the sand discovered the part normally buried) can confuse the visitor, leading to believe that it is a chimney or a tower (a miniature tower!)

Very interesting proof of its continuous use starting from distant times are three different pulley mouths on different levels.

This well was aimed at supplying fresh and drinking water to an ancient Roman colony in this area. Other traces of this colony remain in the salting tanks to the east near Torre García.

Used regularly until recently - in fact until the 90s - in the contemporany decades it supplied water to a nearby garrison of the Guardia Civil barracks on the current El Toyo - Retamar seafront , at the end of the village.

In recent years El Pochico has suffered a partial collapse in the highest part of the curb and at the time of our exploration it pour in this state.

Insisting on a private property, the only ones that can take care of the restoration and conservation - which we hope will not be late - are the owners.

Soil stratification and erosion

Soil erosion in Cabo de Gata
Soil erosion in Cabo de Gata

All around the well are evident the signs of the soil erosive process, held back only by the stabilizing action of maritime thyme plants roots.

The low reliefs at the edges show various geological strata. Placing in front of a section of eroded ground it is possible to distinguish the different materials by the different color and type of erosion, more or less marked than that of the adjacent materials.

Alternating layers of sandy silt, sandstones and conglomerates of varying thickness. Some more marked layers are indicators of the change in sea level in this place.

Inside, as evidence that this place was under water in the past, you can easily find fossil of distant times and different climates marine animals, like the Strombus bubonius, a tropical marine snail.

Although very interesting, do not remove these fossils to preserve the ecosystem and allow future explorers to see them.

Old Agave plantations

Agave plantations in Cabo de Gata
Agave plantations in Cabo de Gata

On the banks of the various ramblas that we encounter on our journey we notice the intensification ofagave plants.

As tourists, not experts in botany we think that agaves are native plants.

In support of our thesis the agaves, together with the Indalo , and Sol de Portocarrero , are among the Andalusia and Almería symbols.

Intrigued by some older rows equidistant and too orderly to be natural, we look for more information on our smartphone and we discovered that these are old plantations, now abandoned and wild.

Agave plantations in Cabo de Gata

The agaves we see here are mainly agave sisalana and agave fourcroydes, particularly invasive species.

Agave plant in Cabo de Gata
Agave plant in Cabo de Gata

They are the living testimony of the existence in this place between 1956 and 1958 of a very extensive cultivation of agave plants: between Cabo de Gata-Níjar and El Toyo Natural Park on an area of ​​3000 hectares (1280 hectares only in the current natural park) were planted about 2 million plants.

This installation dates back to a 1950s project for improvement and exploitation of the arid areas of south-east Spanish, promoted by the Ministry of Agriculture with the aim of installing textile factories for the production of cordage in the area.

In fact, agave, like hemp, cotton and coconut, is among the most important plants for the supplier of textile fibers.

Unluckly, the excessive aridity of the chosen lands, together with the discovery of synthetic fibers, put a damper on this project. Since then the agave plants present in the area have multiplied in an unstoppable way.

This abandonment should - and we hope it will happen - be reconsidered, given the renewed interest in this natural fiber, for its high strength, the quality and the sustainability of its extraction, compared to synthetic fibers.

Playa de Torre García

Playa de Torre García
Playa de Torre García

Coming back from our visit to the Pochico, from the exploration of agave fields and rocky sediments, we retrace the bed of the Rambla de las Amoladeras, in this totally dry period, until we rejoin the main dirt road that runs along the sea.

Beyond the western embankment of the canal we arrived directly on the Playa de Torre García, 2000 per 100 meters of dark sand and pebbles.

It is the first - or the last one, for those like us who come from the east - Parco Naturale del Ponente beach.

Opposite we see in the distance an ocher-colored stone tower next to a building with typical Iberian architecture and, not far away, an unusual and fascinating white chapel with a blue dome with a Greek-Byzantine look.

Torre García and Ermita de la Virgen del Mar
Torre García and Ermita de la Virgen del Mar

The sight of this last building, even if still very far away, leaves both of you breathless. It is gorgeous.

We get back on the saddle and set off towards the tower and the chapel.

The Playa de Torre García is windy. This causes the fairly wavy sea and influenced the surrounding environment, characterized by dunes. It has several parking spaces and is really clean.

You can breathe absolute silence and tranquility. The parked vehicles are almost all foreign. Few locals, especially fishermen. The most, British and German tourists, are seated on the wooden fence that borders the dirt road or on their little seat contemplating the waves or reading a book.

About 100 meters from the tower the dirt road splits and leads straight to the large yellow structure, to the left of the tower, but first it runs alongside a fenced and closed field with ancient foundations. It is an evident archaeological area.

Ancient Roman salt factory remains

Ancient Roman salt factory remains at Playa de Torre García
Ancient Roman salt factory remains at Playa de Torre García

As indicated by the information sign on the side of the fence with the stone remains - now faded and almost illegible - it is an ‘ancient Roman salting, operative between 218 and 409 AD, rediscovered and enhanced only in time recent.

The structure consists of a series of tanks used to produce salted fish (the largest tank) and for the delicious garum, a fish sauce very popular in Roman times (the minor tanks). Later also for the extraction of fabrics purple dye, obtained from a mollusk.

To obtain the garum, the pieces of fish were cleaned, cut into small pieces and left to dry in the sun, then introduced into the tanks with salt where they were left for 20 days. Once the process was complete, the product was packaged in beak-shaped amphorae which thanks to their pointed base could stick into the sand and stand upright until the moment of the shipping.

Torre García watchtower

Signal tower built in the second half of the 16th century, during Philip II reign, on the remains of a Muslim defensive construction, taken in 1488, when Almería was reconquered.

Torre García watchtower
Torre García watchtower

Torre García was part of the defensive network of the Gulf of Almería and was visually connected to the west with the Perdigal tower (about 7 km in a straight line) and to the east with the San Miguel tower (at equal distance). It had the function of lookout and signaling for the defense of the coast against the Berber pirates, very active at the time.

3 guards communicated the presence of danger to other towers bonfires (during the night) and smoke signals (during the day). This typically Muslim alarm procedure continued to be used until the 18th century.

In 1759 it was in good conditions and there were two custodians. In 1773 it was restored and was in good conservation state up to the part of the nineteenth century. More later it became property of the Guardia Civil, but when they were moved in a nearby barracks it was abandoned.

Since 1987 it has been included in the Cabo de Gata-Níjar natural park and between 1987 and 1989 it was restored again by decision of the Ministry of Culture of the Junta de Andalucía. Despite this latest restoration, however, access is currently prohibited due to the poor state of conservation.

Virgen del Mar shrine

Virgen del Mar shrine
Virgen del Mar shrine

Taking some Torre Garcia exterior photographs, we walked towards the domed roof building that fascinated us so much.

There was no information panel, but through the internet we find out what it is and find more information.

The small and colorful chapel is the Royal Convent of Santo Domingo, better known as Ermita de la Virgen del Mar, a Dominican convent.

Founded by the Catholic Monarchs in 1492 and finished to built at the end of the 16th century, between the late Gothic and Renaissance periods, it was named after the Virgen del Mar in 1806, who became the patron saint of Almería with the approval of Pope Pius VII .

It was erected in this place because on 21 December 1502 one of the three keepers of Torre Garcia, the guard Andrés de Jaén found on this beach, carried by the waves, an image of the Virgin of the Sea.

The patroness is not present in the shrine, but is brought here in procession on the second Sunday of January (right during our stay!).

Abolished in 1835 with the confiscation of Mendizábal, it still continued to operate since when in 1841 the City Council definitively closed the convent for use it as the College of Letters and Philosophy chapel.

In 1899 the Dominicans returned to the city and repossessed the convent by building a new convent next to the confiscated one.

As the tower, the convent is today visible only from the outside.

Virgen del Mar shrine
Virgen del Mar shrine

In 1936 became victim of a fire which partially destroyed it. Four years later it was restored and the facade completely rebuilt.

El Toyo-Retamar

Leaving the shrine, the dirt road continues towards the city. The last part of Playa de Torre García (the one adjacent to the beginning of the village) is - at the moment we are here - dedicated to naturism.

At the end of the dirt road and the beach, a large information sign greets us greets us and communicates us that we are leaving Cabo de Gata Natural Park. Immediately after the sign, the road becomes paved and a splendid promenade begins that runs along the entire coast of the elegant urbanization of El Toyo-Retamar.

Palmeral del Toyo, Paseo Marítimo and Plaza del Mar

Continuing along the seashore, there are several bars, clubs, pizzerias, chiringuitos and even a small wooden kiosk for rickshaw hire, whose owner greets us with a smile.

After this last kiosk, the dirt car road and one of the most beautiful pedestrian promenades we have ever encountered begins: it is the Paseo Marítimo of El Toyo.

El Toyo Retamar Paseo Marítimo
El Toyo Retamar Paseo Marítimo

The wide pedestrian sidewalk is filled with neat and tidy palm trees, pergolas with canopies (one of these measures even 15 meters) and benches.

We are crossing the Palmeral del Toyo. On our left we see a minimal and modern trapezoidal artificial, overlooked by some Italian restaurants. It is Plaza del Mar.

Plaza del Mar Retamar
Plaza del Mar Retamar

Immediately afterwards, an immense and splendid park would make us think we are in the home of some Arab prince.

Playa de Retamar

We pass the Paseo Marítimo of El Toyo, the Palmeral del Toyo and Plaza del Mar. On our left we have the Playa de Retamar.

It is a large beach of coarse sand of various colors, very clean and well maintained, which runs along the whole city, with multiple accesses (even for the disabled), showers, bathers reserved areas, and (thirty!) lifeguards in the summer.

Playa Retamar-El Toyo
Playa Retamar-El Toyo

This beach has the European Blue Flag and the Spanish Q rate, that indicates its high quality. But the good quality of the water means that there are also many jellyfish.

Towards the end of the pedestrian promenade we go down to the beach with the bikes and continue along the coast.

Bunker casemate Playa de Retamar

Bunker casemate Playa de Retamar
Bunker casemate Playa de Retamar

Higher up, in the center of a balcony on coast, we see a small salmon-colored bunker (or better, a casemate, since it is a single structure), certainly colored after the war to integrate it into the surrounding landscape.

We will discover later that it is part of the defensive structure installed between the Head Hill, near the Cabo de Gata lighthouse and Roquetas del Mar. This bunker is present on the maps, with the name of Búnker de Retamar

Casa Fuerte de la Cruceta

Casa Fuerte de la Cruceta
Casa Fuerte de la Cruceta

At the end of the town and the pedestrian promenade there is another salmon-colored military building. It is the Casa Fuerte de la Cruceta, better known as Fortaleza de Casas Fuertes, a barracks built in 1773 byCharles III to house the cavalry troops in charge of the defense of Almeria and Cabo de Gata.

It is a rectangular-plan barracks with a portico that precedes a two vaulted naves body (one dedicated to the stable and the other to the troop barracks and the officers’ room) and an upper terrace.

The rectangular perimeter wall has two protrusions with a circular plant with slits at two opposite angles (north-east and south-west) and two other right-angled edges without defense. There was a single entrance, now walled up and indistinguishable from the rest of the walls.

In 1778 it housed a garrison of 14 men (out of a potential capacity of 20 soldiers). Drinking water was drawn from the Pozo de las Amoladeras.

It remained in use for nearly 50 years. In 1830 it was abandoned and remained in this state until, 27 years later, it was transferred to the Guardia Civil, the Spanish military police, becoming barracks. In 1985 it was declared monument.

The building is currently in good external condition, but a simple information sign with the name is also missing. Fortunately, there seems to be projects to transform the monument into a place of culture and given its historical importance and privileged position, we really hope this will happen.

While we are intent on taking some pictures an elderly man approaches us and whispers, in a low voice and in an incomprehensible way that this place has a bad history, and hints at us something about a certain “Almeria case”.

He is amazed that we know nothing about it and tells us that in the 1980s three boys were tortured and killed in this place.

We thus discover that this construction is known for a event known as “Case Almería”

Il Caso Almería e la Casa Fuerte de la Cruceta

Il Caso Almeria

It was May of 1981, and the head of the king’s military, General Joaquín Valenzuela, was victim of a ETA attack in which he was seriously wounded and which cost the lives of three of his companions.

In the same days three young friends, Juan Mañas Morales, Luis Montero García and Luis Manuel Cobo Mier, were traveling from Santander to Almería to attend the communion of one of these brother’s when a vehicle breakdown forces them to stop.

They take the train to Manzanares, where they rent a green Ford Fiesta.

On Saturday 9 May 1981, in the afternoon, their Ford Fiesta parked on the Roquetas de Mar promenade, because one of the three boys, originally from Almeria, wanted to show his city to the others. It is the last time they are seen alive.

The day after, their dead bodies are recovered near Gérgal, in Tabernas Desert, inside the overturned, charred and bullet-punched Ford Fiesta. They show evident signs of torture and their limbs have been amputated.

A civil guard team claims that the boys have gone astray following a fire fight with the military police followed by a chase. But it turns out that the facts are very different.

The three boys are arrested at 9:05 pm of that Saturday (9 May 1981) with no resistance, while shopping in a store in Roquetas del Mar (Almeria).

A citizen (perhaps the owner of the car rental himself) mistakenly recognizes the three boys as terrorists and warns the Civil Guard, which starts a merciless hunt. At the head of the research team is Lieutenant Colonel Carlos Castillo Quero.

Castillo Quero and his team of 11 Civil Guards arrested, kidnapped and tortured the three innocents for the whole night in the Casa Fuerte de la Cruceta, abandoned at that time, and realizing the mistake, they would try to eliminate the evidence.

In May of this year (2021) on the 40th anniversary of the event, a monolith commemorating these sad events was placed on the spot where the charred car was found. In October, a monument to the three victims was erected in Plaza de las Estaciones de Santander, in Cantabria , the city from which they departed.

Town of El Toyo

In addition to the various points of interest and the beautiful seafront El Toyo is a really pretty village. Well maintained, with an internal cycle path that runs throughout the village and connects it to Retamar, many car parks where motorhomes are tolerated and several free water points.

Rambla del Puente de la Quebrada

Rambla del Puente de la Quebrada
Rambla del Puente de la Quebrada

After the town of El Toyo, the dirt road resumes between the dunes and this time crosses a steppe landscape.

We advance on the dunes. Further down, on our left, we have the coast. On our right, about 650 meters after the Casa Fuerte de la Cruceta, a thick vegetation opens up.

We are at the “mouth” of yet another river intermittently, this time it is the Rambla del Puente de la Quebrada, which we find - as we expect given the period - completely dry.

We decide to also walk the bed of this stream, as far as possible.

Here the riverbed is much wider and the banks are at least three times higher than those of the Rambla de las Amoladeras.

The internal landscape is less wild and beautiful than that of the Rambla de las Amoladeras and very bare: it reminds us of what we encountered in the path near the rambla that generates the Albufera de Rambla de Morales.

On the other hand, the layered rock walls are spectacular. And as we go on they become more and more impressive. Some black clouds on the horizon make the panorama almost epic.

We walk inland as far as possible, that is, until the river is blocked by the road (currently called AL-3113).

The road is much higher, it is not possible to get there easily and from there we are neither visible or audible. On the opposite side of the river bed we haven’t met anyone for more than one kilometer.

It is at this point that we begin to hear an eerie hum coming from the eastern shore. Intrigued or perhaps in the mood of Don Abbondio who hastily approaches the bravi, we go up the bank to a point where access is easier.

We are faced with an immense expanse of agaves and nothing else.

Hila precedes me, I join her a few moments later and… the sand gives way under my left leg and I find myself buried up to the thigh in a hole.

A rabbit trap or just a geological phenomenon? We do not know but we decide to go back without going further into the dense agaves forest.

On the way back, almost reaching the main dirt road again, we take the wrong road (we skirt the east side of the canal instead of the opposite one).

Here we realize that camouflaged among the vegetation there are many shelters built with sheets similar to jute. And, more frighteningly, we note that several of these shelters have a hole to allow external observation.

One of the shelters hidden among the vegetation in the Rambla del Puente de la Quebrada
One of the shelters hidden among the vegetation in the Rambla del Puente de la Quebrada

We think of observation huts for birds or hunting structures, but the inside of the river bed is dry and there are no animals of any kind.

With a little restlessness, I tell Hila to get away from the trees and it is at this moment that we hear a moan from one of these structures and we realize that they are watching us.

I tell our female dog to be alert and prepare her for the attack, she obeys. We continue carefully and shortly after we arrive at the path.

Although the vision of the stratifying rocks is really satisfying, we do not recommend going to this place alone. Then it is up to you!

Playa Del Perdigal and Bunker

Playa Del Perdigal
Playa Del Perdigal

Continuing towards Almeria on our left we have the Playa Del Perdigal, large, beautiful and wild, but unfortunately, dirty. Too much dirty.

And this is not just about people’s incivility. A lot of the trash on the beach, especially plastic, has been in the water for a long time. The problem is that the seas are now full of waste.

We continue trying to collect as much rubbish as we can and we see that where the beach curves and protrudes towards the sea there is a large well-preserved casemate (GPS coordinates: 36.83696, -2.33871), also not marked on the maps. Another component of the installation to defend the Bay of Almeria.

I pass Hila and like a child at the playground I double the pace until I’m in front of the reinforced concrete structure. I look at, admire, touch and photograph it. Unfortunately, even around here it is full of waste and the bunker has been targeted by writers.

Perdigal Playa Bunker (second casemate)

Perdigal Playa Bunker
Perdigal Playa Bunker

We continue our long walk. Playa Del Perdigal becomes much wider. On the beach there are some campers and a car, further back, up near a chiringuito, in a privately owned land for sale, we see many motorhomes and vans.

We take some photos of the boats, the seagulls and the ancient pulleys to drag the boats on the sand and to a small bunker present at the highest point of the beach and continue towards our last stop: the Torre del Perdigal.

Perdigal Tower

Perdigal Tower
Perdigal Tower

Perdigal Tower is another of the defensive towers built to protect the coast and that communicated directly with Torregarcia Tower. It is located right in front of the Almeria Airport, on the beach.

The site is in scandalous conditions: waste of all kinds, especially handkerchiefs, condoms and syringes. To get there we must walk through the dense vegetation with the utmost attention (we are wearing simple sneakers).

From our travel diary

06/01/2022

We woke up and went to San Miguel de Cabo de Gata from the Playa del Charco. We took a long bike ride to Retamar.

Cabo de Gata Natural Park: from San Miguel de Cabo de Gata to Almeria diary

In the evening we went to sleep in Retamar in the El Toyo.

07/01/2022

We walked from Retamar to Almeria airport.

Cabo de Gata Natural Park: from San Miguel de Cabo de Gata to Almeria diary 2

On our way back we came across hiding places where moans seemed to come from in the dry riverbed!

Ale found an object on the dry river bank but doesn’t want to tell me what it is! It would appear to be made of ceramic. If you know what it is, please write it to me in the comments!

firma Hilary

mysterious object

Final notes

While writing this post we contributed to the wikipedia entry with changes, additions and photos of San Miguel de Cabo de Gata at: https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Miguel_de_Cabo_de_Gata

Conclusion

The path that leads to the Tower touches as its last point Playa de La Cañada.

Of the playa, however, there is only one sign, old and rusty because at the end of the vegetative area full of waste - where the beach should be present - the sea begins directly.

This is the typical example of a disappointing ultimate destination. And how the beauty of a journey, of an exit, of an exploration often focuses on all the stages and in the intermediate moments that lead to the final stage.

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Alessandro Gemscovery Travel Blog
Alessandro Lussi
Di origine friulana e calabrese, risiedo a Torino.
Copywriter professionista, ho smesso di lavorare come programmatore per dedicarmi full-time alla mia passione: la scrittura.