I'm standing on the edge of the city and at the same time on the precipice. We are in Ronda and looking down over a hundred meters - just some steps away from the last houses. It's like the white buildings were spraying over the cliffs like spindrift. At the same time, the pale and warm evening light sinks over the landscape. At Puente Nuevo the lights are illuminating the gorge between the two districts with fiery orange.
From here we start our expeditions into the wild nature and the hinterland of Andalusia. Beside big cities like Seville, Granada and Malaga, lay remote beaches, picturesque mountains with unbelievable hiking trails on wooden planks and rocky landscapes that are comparable to the National Parks in Utah and Colorado. I take you to the five most beautiful natural wonders of Andalusia. I hope you're free from vertigo and ready for an adventure!
After we have parked the car precisely at the precipice, we take a last look at the tickets and set off. For a long time Caminito del Rey was one of the most dangerous hiking trails of the world because it was in a very bad condition. It was even closed to the public. The original path was built between 1901 and 1905 and spanned the Gaitanes Gorge for better exchange between the communities on the various sides. Of course, therefore one builds a 1.8 miles long, completely crazy track, which leads along vertical rock walls on planks. That would not happen today in times of wifi and drones. Too bad - because the Caminito del Rey is just breathtaking.
Unfortunately, over time the path became impassable. Which did not prevent some hikers from still climbing the route anyway. Between 1999 and 2000 numerous adventurers had an accident on this trail - four of them died. In March 2015, the completely restored trail reopened to visitors. And was promptly overrun. That is why there is now a ticket system in which only about 15 to 20 people every half an hour are permitted to walk the trail.
There is also a shorter trail for families with children and an even longer trail, but it is not a circular trail - for the supernerds among hikers. You can park for free at the visitor center and even send off your postcards there.
It is hard to imagine, however, that at this point - so high in the Andalusian mountains - there was once a sea. Stone deposits have formed layers of lime. When Europe and Africa collided (so that was a really long time ago!), the landscape unfolded uniquely. The area is between 3.600 and 4.600 feet high. If you have binoculars with you, you can see not only goats but also reptiles and an incredible number of birds. We spent a whole morning wondering about the stacked stone formations and realizing once again that no futuristic urban design can beat the beauty of nature. The entrance to Torcal de Antequera is free.
The road winds down into the valley like a knotted shoelace. The large, green lake at the bottom is now only a small spot that shines in the landscape. We went up to an altitude of more than 6.500 feet after we started from Granada off to the northern side of the Sierra Nevada to the visitor center of El Dornajo. This does not take long by car - only about 30 minutes.
The car roars in second gear as we puff up the steep mountain roads. Behind the dark fir trees, a view breaks out for which I would plunge into the abyss - if it were not so counterproductive. We stop dozens of times in the small bays at the roadside and drive up to Mirador Monte ahi de Cara. This is the moment when I would like to pack and store the breathtaking landscape in small glasses like the sand I fill up at the beaches around the world to put it on my shelf.
There are various hiking trails, which constantly open up new, grandiose views over the wonderfully shaped landscape. The soil is dry, but the wasteland seems like a mysterious painting. "I keep thinking it's all just a canvas," Alex says in the silence. Nothing to hear but the wind. Not even goats. While I dig my water bottle out of my backpack after only three minutes, as if I had been in the Sahara for two weeks, I look at the thorny bushes, the black beetle on the ground and the golden blades of grass on the tops.
The evening light pours mysterious light over Tabernas Desert, draws deep and long shadows and slowly cools the lands. In addition to nature, you can also visit the scenery of western villages, some of which can be seen in films such as "Once Upon a Time in the West" or "Lawrence of Arabia". However, the villages are of course artificially created and some now have the character of amusement parks and cost a lot of entrance fees. Since I'm not so enthusiastic about such attractions, we save the $25 for the Wild West Jurassic crap and instead sit on some stones in the middle of the desert and enjoy the sunset. The silver sickle of the moon hangs over leafless trees, while the stones on the ground glow pink. From Tabernas Desert to Granada it is about 83 miles and to Almería about 18 miles. The route from Granada to Tabernas is spectacular with its red rocks, canyons and the Sierra Nevada in the background.
Funnily enough you have to pass a control house with a barrier at the entrance, because the beach belongs to the in-crowd housing estate La Alcaidesa. However, there are
no entrance fees, special authorisations or parking fees, which is why the job in the control house seemed a little pointless to us. Probably the guy in there would rather lie on
the beach as well than let crazy people in and out all day, whom he is not even allowed to bully. We manage to visit the beach at sunrise. Holy moly! The sky seems to be covered
with red, pink, violet, blue and yellow and we can pop ourselves on a rock like Caspar David Friedrich and look into infinity.
Also, with luck, you'll find large brown shells in the sand. Restrooms and showers are also available. However, you should bring a paraso (yes, that annoying thing that ruins the atmosphere at beaches!), because there is no shade down there. Because we found Alcaidesa Beach so incredibly beautiful, we even drove back another 50 miles from Marbella in one evening.
If you have any questions about details of the natural wonders of Andalusia, don't hesitate to write me a comment, an email or a message on Facebook or Instagram. And now get yourself out of the house!