The Cabo de Gata-Níjar Geopark is one of the few sub-desertic areas in Europe and was the first maritime and terrestrial Protected Area in Andalusia. The Geopark consists of a 380 square-kilometre terrestrial component, and a 120 square-kilometre marine component, along with 50 kilometres of the best preserved rocky cliffs in the Mediterranean European coastline.
The Park has garnered different international awards for its natural values: Special Protection Areas (SPAs, 1989), Wetland of International Importance RAMSAR (1990), Reserve of the Biosphere (MAB, 1997), Specially Protected Areas of Mediterranean Importance (SPAMI, 2001), Natura2000 (2006), European and Global Geopark (2006) and European Charter of Sustainable Tourism (ECST, 2008).
The park’s peculiarity in terms of ecology and landscape is due to its climate features, with a practically absence of a proper winter season, its geographic isolation and the traditional use of the land. It is an ecological boundarie with Africa and because that we share numerous species with the North of Africa, absents in the European continent.
The richness of flora ranks among the most diverse and singular in Europe: more than 1000 autochthonous flora species, hundreds of them with small size and ephemeral life (days, months). As regards fauna, there are remarkable marine birds, steppe birds and salt marsh birds communities.
Its geodiversity derives from the the volcanic range of Cabo de Gata, the most complex and extense volcanic deposits in the Iberian Peninsula, but is also worth to mention the Tortonian and Messinian reef deposits along with excellent examples of tyrrhenian fósil beaches.
The volcanic complex is of the intermediate type, andesites and dacites and are almost a 5% of the whole volcanic complex found below the Alboran sea. It is first class witness of submarine volcanic process. The exceptional conditions for observation with more of eight hours of sunlight per day and scarce vegetation allows to visit an open geological museum with a great scientific, didactic and tourist interest: lava flows, volcanic domes, volcanic calderas, columnar joints, fossilized beaches, reef constructions, climate change evidences, etc.
As a result of the aridity of the climate and the shortage of fertile soil, the ancient settlers in this land devised a system of wind mills, water wheels, wells and cisterns for the extraction and storage of water. These structures were registered in the General Catalogue of the Historical Heritage of Andalusia (2001) and represent milestones in the history and development of the landscape of the Geopark.
Cabo de Gata enjoys of a mixture of Atlantic and Mediterranean water mass that allows the development of the Almeria-Oran front biodiversity hotspot. The park contains wide prairies of Posidonia oceanica; sea urchins, starfish, sponges, molluscs, and many fish find refuge, food and ideal breeding grounds among their green leaves.
How to visit the Geopark?
- Amoladeras Visitor Centre
- House of the Volcanoes, Geotouriscal Centre
- Albardinal Botanical Garden
- Information points
- Isleta del Moro
- Arrecife de las Sirenas
- Pozo de los Frailes
- Public tracks network
- Bird watching observatories
Geopark Head Office
04115 Rodalquilar-Nijar (Almería)
Tel: + 34 950 100 394
Fax: + 34 950 803 049
Visitors’ Centre “Las Amoladeras”
Paraje de Las Amoladeras
Ctra. Almería-Cabo de Gata, km 7
Tel.: +34 950 160 435