Those who love mountains will find this article interesting. I vacationed in Almeria and from there it is a short drive to the Sierra de Gador, which borders the Sierra Nevada to the north. The highest peak in the Sierra de Gador was Morrón de la Lagunilla (2249 metres above sea level).
Our party of 5 left in the morning by car to Laujar de Andarax in the province of Almeria (69 km from Almeria). It is a small (92 km²) town with a population of just over 1500 people, where the recreational area “El nacimiento” begins.
This is where the Andarax River originates, also beautifully called the “soul of the oasis”, as its waters are used to grow crops in arid Andalusia. The origins of the Andarax are in the eastern Sierra Nevada and the river even runs through the Tabernas Desert.
So here we are on the outskirts of Laujar (as Laujar de Andarax is abbreviated). Here there are crowds of people, cafes, souvenirs. Sierra de Gador panorama:
From here (from Laujar) four official hiking trails start:
- The Monterey Trail (PR-A 35) 13 km round trip
- The Hydropower Plant Path (PR-A 36) 5 km long
- The Aquadero Trail (PR-A 37) 8 km long
- The Sierra Nevada Roundabout Trail (GR-240) 20.7 km long
Our route was the Power Plant Trail (trail). The entire route passes through more than 85,000 hectares of Sierra Nevada National Park, which stretches from south-east Granada to the western end of Almeria. The park is home to the highest point of the Iberian Peninsula, Mount Mulhacín (3,479 metres). Incidentally, this national park has also been declared a Unesco Biosphere Reserve.
We set off on the trail that winds its way through a pine forest. The aroma of pine stands in the warm air. You want to breathe and breathe … It turns out that there are very old pine trees growing here (from the 40s and 60s).
Wild rose hips blossom and bear fruit on the way; there are red poppies and some medicinal plants: mint, thyme, rosemary, juniper. In general, the local flora counts over 2,000 species, including endemics and endangered species.
And then there are the many sweet almond trees. Almonds are still green in July, but we tasted them, as they look like transparent jelly inside. It’s very interesting and they say these green almonds are a thirst-quenching delight.
Our first stop was at the Monterey Lookout. From here we have a view of the Sierra de Gador mountain range in Spain, the Almires peak (2517 metres above sea level) and the Andarax river valley.
The river is not only known as the “soul of the oasis”, but also for having had a small hydroelectric power station on its banks. In the municipality of Laujar de Andarax there was once a dam built on the river at 1150 metres above sea level and a hydroelectric power plant 200 metres below, which supplied electricity to several villages in the area. The people of Andalusia lovingly called this station the “Factory of Light”. During the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) a series of bunkers were built at the mouth of the river to protect the town. They are now practically destroyed.
The Andarax River “accompanied” the whole way. In the middle of the trip we had a small snack (we took sandwiches with us), caught our breath, admired the scenery and went on to the next point of the route – Chillo Bridge (formerly an aqueduct). When we crossed the bridge, we got a view of the cliff and the road, which, incidentally, is fenced only on one side. From the other side the fall is not very high, in principle. 🙂 But those who are afraid of heights, I think, will not be able to pass.
Then we went down a little bit, started to walk along the tunnel, which used to be an irrigation canal, and came to La Murilla dam, where some of the water directional mechanisms are preserved. We walked right along the hydroelectric canal (Hidroeléctrica del Duque del Infantado), which had been restored a few years ago.
Yes, we also met some white goats along the way and saw a small waterfall called Andarax. Unfortunately, it didn’t impress at all.
Our walk through the Sierra de Gador mountains came to an end, on the way back we passed a pretty little village where we bought cherries from the local farmers.
Where to stay in the Sierra de Gador
There are 2 hotels in Laujar de Andarax itself:
- The three-star Hotel Villa de Laujar de Andarax. Prices start from 50 euro per night (studio for two people). The hotel also offers transfers to and from the airport.
- Hotel Rural Familiar Almirez-Alpujarra is a two star hotel. Price from 70 euro per night (standard double room).
Interesting facts about the Sierra de Gador
1. The province of Andalucía is home to several protected areas, the most famous of which are the Doñana National Park, the Sierra Nevada in Granada; the Cabo de Gata and Tabernas in Almería; the Sierra de Grazalema in Cádiz.
2. Andalusia is the most climatically diverse region of Spain: there are even subtropical areas (Granada province) and the Tabernas Desert, also known as the “Almería Desert”.
3. Andalusia, like all regions of Spain, has its own “dialect” of Spanish. Not even a dialect, but a pronunciation. For example, Almerians don’t say the letter ‘C’ (at all). The simplest example: “Buenos dias” (good day) in Almería would sound like “Bueno dia”, “gracias” (thank you) like “gracia”, etc. But okay, when the letter is not pronounced at the end of the word. You may also miss the middle letter – e.g. “pescado” (fish) is pronounced “pecado” (which generally means “sin”). But after a week you get used to it… and you start saying it yourself 🙂