The Desierto de Tabernas (Tabernas Desert or Badlands) is situated between the Sierra Nevada, Sierra de Gádor, Sierra de Los Filabres and Sierra Alhamilla in the Province of Almería and is one of the most dramatic landscapes in Spain. A combination of little rainfall, high temperatures all year round and long levels of sun exposure produces the dry climate that gives rise to this true desert. Temperatures in winter rarely drop below freezing at night. During the summer, temperatures during the day can exceed 40°C.
The Desierto de Tabernas is one of the most geologically interesting landscapes in Europe, since it clearly shows the process of natural desertification and erosion. Features include the sheer-sided gullies, carved out by the infrequent but torrential rains falling only a few days in the year. The arroyos or small steams formed by the torrential rain harbour most of the vegetation and fauna. The desert also contains numerous dry river beds or ramblas, which provide a unique micro-climate that is more humid than any other place in this otherwise parched landscape.
During the spring months, the Desierto de Tabernas is a riot of colour with its abundance of vegetation, you could easilly be forgiven for thinking you are in some far away exotic place…. actually, you are!!
About eight million years ago, the sea covered the entire desert area, reaching the Sierra de los Filabres to the north. The deposited material (sand and loam) of which makes up the Desierto de Tabernas today. A million years later the Sierra Alhamilla rose up, cutting off the desert from the ocean and creating an inland sea where further sand, loam, clay, limestone and gypsum were deposited. At the end of pliocene epoch the sea receded, leaving the seabed exposed to erosion.
The Desierto de Tabernas, because of its similarities with the North American deserts, was used from 1950s (and still used today) for the shooting of many films and westerns. Many spaghetti westerns, including the seminal films of Sergio Leone were shot here, as were scenes from The Last Mohican, Lawrence of Arabia and many more.
There are a number of film studios in this area you can visit that have now been turned into theme parks.
Yet another photographers paradise in the Province of Almeria and not too far from the Parque Natural de Cabo de Gata. We were lucky enough to be shown around this beautiful area by our good friend Jesus Contreras, please visit his website to learn more about him.
My recommendation is to visit this outstanding area of beauty in spring-time when there is an abundance of colours and vegetation as detailed above. Although it’s fair to say you could visit these Badlands everyday and see something different.