Last Friday it was a birthday of a good friend and we went out for the day exploring even more of Almería’s hidden gems, partly for pleasure and partly as a reconnaissance mission for a future excursion. There is certainly no shortage of beautiful locations within the province of Almería and I am fortunate enough, nae privileged to have a friend in Jesus (Oz Nature) who is able to show me such places.
These places are not really secret hidden places but some are extremely difficult and hazardous to get to so I’m reluctant to say where they are in case people try to find them, have an accident and blame me… it can happen!
Somewhere above and behind the town of Alhama is a narrow rocky gorge that is both difficult to get to and difficult to walk along. Outside the summer months, there is running water in this gorge and it is a spectacular sight. During the summer, often it is dry as was the case last Friday. Of course this means that you can walk / climb the river bed without getting wet but obviously you can’t swim there as you can at other times of the year. There is a point where after scaling large boulders and climbing up the steep rock surfaces you can walk no further, from this point when I looked back I was reminded of photographs I’ve seen of the gorge leading up to village of Petra, Jordan with the sunlight filtering through and illuminating one of the rock faces, it was a very special sight and a moment that didn’t last for very long.
During the walk to and from this gorge, we were blessed with the sight of, well I don’t know it must have been almost 20 mountain goats in total, though not all at once. I tried to find some information about these and all roads lead to them perhaps being a sub-species of the Iberian wild goat (Capra Pyrenaica) AKA the Spanish ibex. Certainly the horns they were wielding were most unlike an ibex but the colouring looks the same and some of the photographs I have found online match the type we saw.
The Spanish ibex populates the Iberian Peninsula and consisted originally of four subspecies. However with recent extinctions occurring within the last century, only two of the subspecies still exist. These two subspecies of ibexes, the Capra pyrenaica hispanica, which I think is the one depicted and the Capra pyrenaica victoriae, can be found along the Spanish Iberian Peninsula and have even migrated and settled into the coast of Portugal.
Spanish ibex are strong mountainous animals characterised by their large and flexible hooves and short legs. This allows them to run and leap on bare, rocky, rough and steep slopes and gives them an advantage over potential predators that possibly cannot reach them because of the terrain. The males are greater in size and have larger horns.
Near the town of Alboloduy is the Rambla de los Yesos and you could easily be forgiven for thinking you were in the Grand Canyon or a film set of a western film (movie). We didn’t walk very far along but there is a (seemingly) fantastic circular route which takes about four hours. In the winter months when water runs from the Sierra Nevada, it is a dangerous place to be. One day I will return here as this is a place full of life despite it’s barren and dry appearance.
Finally our day ended with a visit to the Balsa Salobre, a fairly hardy climb along narrow paths. Since our visit, I read that it only takes 10 minutes to climb this slope… well, this is maybe optimistic or maybe I ate too many pies but it felt like an eternity in the blistering mid-day heat. It was worth it though, only a tiny little pool but a cool pool and a nice place to soak and watch the world go by, amazing views of the valley and of Alboloduy.