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Cabo de Gata in Nijar
The area to be described in the following section is a cocktail of beaches, cliffs, sea and light, combined in perfect harmony. If there is something besides these four features which grabs the attention, it is the lack of crowds and the wildness of the landscape.
To the east of Almería, after passing El Alquián, a traditional fishing port, Retamar and Torre García, where the Romans first salted fish in the factory whose remains can still be seen, we enter the Cabo de Gata - Níjar National Park. As a taste of things to come in this very special park, the Reserve area of "Las Amoladeras" houses the Visitor Centre. Passing along a beautiful road between the Salinas Natural Site on one side and the Mediterranean on the other, we reach the Site´s bird observation post. This place is of great ecological importance, with a flamingo population which reaches up to 2,400 examples.
The contrasts begin: the up-to-now straight road begins to snake in often tight bends, the superb flat beaches of San Miguel and la Almadraba move on to often steeply-dropping beaches, and the peace and quiet of the flamingos, golden dunes and whitewashed architecture of San Miguel de Cabo de Gata (with its echoes of Africa), are replaced by the high cliffs worn away by the violence of the sea. The lighthouse and vantage point of Cabo de Gata appear before us; 150 metres below, the sea strikes against and wears down the rocks. In the midst of the sea spray, the Mermaid´s Reef stands dark and ghostly. The south gives way to the east, and the coastline begins to climb north. Before stands the "Vela Blanca" watchtower against the backdrop of the Mediterranean.
The track which leads from here to San José is prohibited, so we therefore make our way back to the main road around the Sierra. San José is the most important town within the Park area, after Carboneras. It is a fair-sized whitewashed town with an enormous beach, two coves and a well established tourist infrastructure. Its marina, sheltered by the cliffs gives lovers of the sea the chance to practice many different water sports.
From San José, after going inland to visit Níjar, we pass numerous routes down to the sea leading to picturesque spots. This is a diver´s paradise.
Los Escullos, a small fishing village at the foot of a little beach conserves a recently restored Castle. A few kilometres to the north, La Isleta del Moro, is a welcome sight, with its palm grove in the foreground, and beyond, the whitewashed village spread out over various crags, one being an islet, all set against the intense blue Mediterranean sky. The fishing port and an adequate touristic offer call for a stop off here.
The road now goes through a different, drier landscape, inland towards Rodalquilar, a former mining village. Walking along the coast, or from the sea, one finds natural pools, fascinating coves and caves hued from the rock, old dens for monk seals. Some of the caves contain amethyst.
At Las Negras, another small village within the Park, a campsite close to the sea serves as shelter for nature lovers. A boat service is available to take you to the San Pedro cove.
The uneven cliff tops mean that the visitor to Agua Amarga has to take the round about route. Set amongst high cliffs, the centre of the village looks out over its promenade to a family beach with makeshift beach bars and sailing craft catering to a gentle, non-crowded tourism.
Rising to a small plain, La Mesa Roldán is the last development within the Park before arriving at Carboneras.
Malaga to Cabo de Gata
The road route to Cabo the Gata can be found on the following map:
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