The Rambla de Gérgal winds from near Santa Fé de Mondújar to the beginning of the Desierto de Tabernas at the villages (pueblos) of Las Alcubillas (Bajas y Altas) although there are parts of the rambla that stretch out further towards Gérgal. There is an amazing diverse cultural history at almost every kilometre along this rambla which I couldn’t begin to go into on this page including many deserted pueblos, caves, abandoned railway stations and cortijos, each with their own story. The topography of Rambla de Gérgal is at times, very similar to the neighbouring Deseirto de Tabernas and especially so where the two join. There are lush “wet” areas along the rambla where there is an abundance of wildlife.
Last Wednesday Jesus Contreras & I went exploring the Rambla de Gérgal, an area I have never been but that Jesus knew well, he was indeed my guide!
The Rambla begins adjacent to the Río Andarax as a wide-open space but resembling the landscape you would see in a Sergio Leone film… there is a reason for this, the geomorphology is not unlike the Desierto de Tabernas where many of these seminal films were made.
As you can see, there are lush areas along the rambla where there are ponds at certain times of the year, these ponds are a haven for wildlife, especially birds who come here to feed.
Even though the rock bunting comes from a large family, few of its fellow family members actually reside in Europe. This species normally breeds on steep, boulder-strewn or rocky mountain slopes just above tree line or in glades and alpine meadows just below tree line, although they can be found in coastal regions all the way down to sea level as demonstrated!
Francis of Assisi considered the Crested Lark a bird of special significance, based on similarities he perceived between it and the life of the Friars Minor: its plain earth-colored plumage and hood, its humility (“for it goes willingly along the wayside and finds a grain of corn for itself”) and its time spent in song.
The Emperor Dragonfly or Blue Emperor is one of the largest species in Europe and frequently fly high up into the sky in search of prey, which includes butterflies, Four-spotted Chasers and tadpoles; small prey is eaten on the wing.
Along the Rambla de Gérgal there are a number of abandoned cortijos and even whole villages where the population has fled. Once you have seen how remote these places are you can understand why they were abandoned, the shame of it is that much the farm-land has now gone to waste however, there are little patches that look to be regenerated.
Further along the rambla, there is even more of a resemblance to the Desierto de Tabernas and even further along is the deserted pueblo of Fuente Santa, complete with abandoned railway station!
After the abandoned village of Fuente Santa, we drove towards the pueblos of Las Alcubillas and shortly before crossed the railway line. Coincidentally we were listening to the music of Ennio Morricone (one of my many musical heroes) and at this moment in time, the theme from Once Upon a Time in the West was playing, we stopped and listened… there was a chilling and beautiful ambience, the juxtaposition of the music and the landscape was perfect.
Our destination, Las Alcubillas Altas – a strange site after seeing mostly deserted pueblos along our route.
As beautiful as the Rambla de Gérgal is, it’s not really a place I’d recommend to take people, it IS very remote and very special but the wild-life which most people want to see, is limited to only a small section of the rambla.