Spring is the time for walking in Cabo de Gata. It may be chilly in the mornings (with very cold evenings) but just right for those long walks over flowered covered mountains. Our visit was during the end of February to beginning of March. A few tips for anyone thinking of coming during these months.
The locals like to have their main meal between midday and 3pm; then another after 8:30pm (too late for us). In Las Negras this was not an issue to us because, out of the few places that did open in the evenings, one or two did open earlier. The owner of Bitacora, Hans, did drive us down on our first night to eat then returned an hour and 15 minutes later to bring us back to the hotel. On the 2nd night we walked there and back (only 15 minutes each way) so that we did not have to ‘clock watch’ or call Hans out after 9:30. As Bitacora has a kitchen in the apartment (no complimentary tea, coffee, etc) you could make a hot supper if you don’t want to eat late. There is a minimarket that closes at 7:30 pm for all your supplies of tea, coffee or additional picnics. Bitacora is an ideal hotel to add an extra day or two because of the comfort of the apartment and the facilities available in Las Negras.
We arrived in Rodalquilar at 3:30 on Wednesday. Too late for a meal at the only bar/restaurant open and too early to get into our room at Jardin de los Suenos guest house. So, we had a couple of beers until La Pintao closed at 4:30. Even though Eckhard called to find out which restaurants were to open that night the owners did not open. This happened on Thursday night also and we were not the only couple who were waiting for it to open. The minimarket was open (8:30 am – 9:30 pm) and provided us with enough supplies to have a cold supper in our room at the guest house (too cold in the outside kitchen to make a hot meal!). Friday to Sunday nights appears to be restaurant opening nights in Rodalquilar. We suggest you plan your trip to fall on these 3 nights. The large hotel and restaurant just outside Rodalquilar was closed until April, so not an option. It would have been better to have had our extra days at Las Negras, if we have been given a better idea of what Rodalquilar had to offer as regards eating places. Our cases took a bit of a beating as there is a lot of rough ground for them to go over to get to the guest house. We had to replace the wheels on ours when we got home.
We had to cut short some of our walks to ensure we returned to La Pintao before 3 pm to have lunch. It did not help that breakfast started at 9am (at both Bitacora and Rodalquilar). We actually skipped breakfast on our last day for the long walk to San Jose so we could do a lot of the walk in the cool of the morning.
As usual for the last hotel, Dona Pakyta, on Inntravel walks was very comfortable. We had our first evening meal here, then ate locally for the rest of the stay. However, everywhere we ate we found most disappointing for lunch or dinner. We hope this does not put anyone off from doing this walk. The Cabo de Gata Natural Park is not only beautiful but fascinating due to its rock formation, how its plant life survives the rugged terrain and the historical struggles of people who have lived there.
Our first long walk to Cala de San Pedro was on Almeria Day with lots of locals making the same walk. Take a picnic with you. The area is still farmed; we walked past a small valley that had been planted with hundreds of young, grey-green olive trees, contrasting with the yellow of the broom flower Pegamosca and the deep blue of the sea. For eating we went to La Buganvilla and El Bodegon (open early evening). Hans told us of other walks we could have done if we spent our extra days here (wished we had!)
The walk to Rodalquilar is only 5 miles so we took our time and enjoyed one of the best walks in the itinerary. From Cala del Cuervo to El Playazo we were on a cliff path high above the blue sea. Here the spring flowers were in abundance: orchids, rock roses, tall Gamons (Asphodelus albus) nestled amongst many familiar culinary herbs. On reaching the wide, sandy beach of El Playazo we stopped for our picnic and watch a few surfers ‘catching the waves’. The walk turns inland to Rodalquilar, the last mile or so was hard on the feet as it is along dry and rocky riverbeds. On our first day here we walked to Cala del Carnaje – a beach of large, egg-shaped, black boulders; a total contrast to the previous bay. On the walk to Torre de los Lobos we came across probably the smallest narcissi Gaditanus Boiss about 3” high. Thanks to Eckhard, who gave to me a booklet on indigenous plants, and the botanical gardens at Rodalquilar for identifying the plants for us. Visiting the gold mines included a walk through a narrow valley full of bird song and an abundance of flowering shrubs. Due to time constraints we did not manage to do the main walk to Cortijo del Fraile (13.8km).
Eckhard kindly prepared our picnic for tomorrow's walk to San Jose the night before. We left by 8am and reached Las Isleta by 10:30 (missed out Cala de los Toras as we did that on a previous day). It was a Sunday and like the many road-bike competitors, we stopped for coffee with a view of the twin peaks of Les Frailes knowing that San Jose was somewhere on the other side!
The main walk for the last hotel Dona Pakyta was mostly through the private farm land owned by the hotel. Very peaceful and unspoilt. They have an organic goat farm and being spring we saw young kids only a day or 2 old. We saw the beginning of the poppies that, by April, would cover the flat land of the crater wherein the farm is situated.
Ms Risdon, 27 February 2023
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