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Andalusia Coastal Trails: Cabo de Gata 37

Andalusia Coastal Trails: Cabo de Gata

Overview

Walk along the unspoiled longest section of protected coastline in Andalusia. Cabo de Gata Natural Park lies between the municipalities of Almería, Carboneras and Níjar. The area’s arid climate makes for excellent winter and off-season walking among exotic plants and palm trees, from the former fishing village of Agua Amarga then inland to Rodalquilar, ending at the lively beach town of San José.

The walking routes follow fishermen’s trails, converted railway lines and narrow goat tracks, passing rocky ridges and peaceful coves along the idyllic coastline.

  • Dramatic hike along the unspoiled longest section of protected coastline in Andalusia
  • Routes between stark semi-desert surroundings and the sparkling Mediterranean Sea
  • Stunning scenery of volcanic origin
  • Rugged cliffs, white and black sand beaches and tiny white-washed villages

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Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Almería

Today you will arrive in the former fishing village of Agua Amarga, where your programme begins. The white-washed hotel, built in the typical style of Southern Spain with terraced gardens and views of the bay, is right by the beach.

Day 2: Agua Amarga Circular walk | 10.5-13 km

You have a choice of walking routes today:

  • Option 1: The first option involves a steep ascent up to Mesa de Roldán, where you follow a path along an abandoned railway line with sweeping views to the sea.
  • Option 2: This walk begins with an inland stroll to an ancient olive tree. Then you hike toward the coast to explore the typical steppe-like habitat of los espartales, where esparto grass once thrived in bizarre and seemingly inhospitable conditions.
  • Walking for the day: 10.5/13 km, 3/4 hours, ↑290/230 m ↓290/ 230 m depending on the chosen route
  • Overnight in Agua Amarga (Hotel Las Calas or similar)

Day 3: Agua Amarga to Rodalquilar | 21 km

From Agua Amarga, you hike south, first on inland paths, then along the coast to reach Rodalquilar. You’ll pass the characteristic dry riverbeds called “ramblas” and follow them down to hidden coves, where lush greenery creates surprising oases in the desert. Your route takes in the lovely bay (and quirky hippy colony) at Las Negras and the stunning beach at El Playazo.

  • Walking for the day: 21 km, 7 hours, ↑530 m ↓500 m
  • Overnight in Rodalquilar (Hotel de Naturaleza or similar)

Day 4: Cerro del Cinto Circular Walk | 16 km

The Rambla de la Granadilla winds through barren hills, a fertile path with different types of vegetation. Palms and oleanders, reeds, fig trees and poplar groves with views to the Sierra in the distance. You will pass the infamous Cortijo del Fraile, site of the tragic events which inspired Federico García Lorca’s great work, Bodas de Sangre. Here the remains of now-extinct mining activities survive among rocky landscapes in splendid earth tones. Option of stopping to visit the Casa de Los Volcanes (House of the Volcanoes) and gorgeous botanical garden.

  • Walking for the day: 16 km, 4-5 hours, ↑320 m ↓320 m
  • Overnight in Rodalquilar (Hotel de Naturaleza or similar)

Day 5: The Volcanic Garden | 19 km

Today’s route traverses eroded lava rock areas with dwarf palm trees to reach imposing extinct volcanoes. Along the way, you will pass ancient Moorish water systems, wild olive groves and deep gorges, leaving the desert behind and gazing toward the Mediterranean beyond. In the afternoon, the route circles back to the hotel in Rodalquilar.

  • Walking for the day: 19 km, 6 hours, ↑410 m ↓410 m
  • Overnight in Rodalquilar (Hotel de Naturaleza or similar)

Day 6: Rodalquilar to San José | 19 km

This walk follows the cliffs through an unspoilt area, where oases and palm groves emerge from among the dunes, and bright white villages provide contrast to complete the picture. Dark sandy beaches and historic pirate hideaways lead to the next accommodation, in the charmingly authentic fishing village of San José. From here, you can see the highest volcanic peak – Cerro del Fraile (493 m).

  • Walking for the day: 19 km, 5 hours, ↑310 m ↓330 m
  • Overnight in San José (Hotel Doña Pakyta or similar)

Day 7: San José Circular walk | 17 km

Today you will see the most popular beaches in the area with small secret coves which can only be reached on foot – Grande del Barranco, Los Amarillos, Chica, Lance de Perro, Playa del Barronal, Media Luna, Los Genoveses and Monsul. An adventurous and varied route with ever-changing views and a marvellous way to end your week in Cabo de Gata Natural Park.

  • Walking for the day: 17 km, 5-6 hours, ↑280 m ↓280 m
  • Overnight in San José (Hotel Doña Pakyta or similar)

Day 8: Departure

Your trip comes to an end today after breakfast.

What to Expect

Accommodation

Accommodation is in welcoming 2* – 4* hotels as mentioned in the itinerary. All of them have private en-suite rooms and offer a warm welcome to walkers, traditional hospitality and delicious local food. We have carefully hand-picked all places and regularly monitor their quality. We have tried to choose accommodations that offer friendly service, clean and comfortable rooms and local flavour.

Click to view default hotels

*Hotels are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal or higher value and quality level. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation.

Meals

Breakfast on all days, five dinners and five packed lunches are included in the programme.

Difficulty & terrain

The walking sections require good fitness level; there are some steep descents and ascents. You walk on walking paths or along the coastline as well as on asphalted paths. Daily walking times are not more than 6 hours (except Day 3). You must be sure-footed as you may encounter some loose rock, or muddy/slippery sections in wet weather (read more about difficulty grades). Most of the routes are not way-marked, but we will provide you with detailed road notes and maps. We strongly advise you to follow the trails and never try to shorten the path through the unknown and unmarked terrain. We will provide you with detailed road notes and maps, and you can call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime. More detailed info on route navigation will be included in your holiday information pack.

When to go

You can start this holiday any day of the week between 15 September and 9 June; only 29 March – 9 April is a blackout period in 2023. The flexibility of self guided holidays means that there are no fixed dates, and you can start your trip on any date during the season. Cabo de Gata enjoys mild year-round weather. The average annual temperature is 21 degrees, and there is about 80 mm of rain in a year. As Europe’s sunniest, driest corner, Almería enjoys around 300 days of sunshine a year. It also boasts the warmest sea temperatures in mainland Spain.

Getting there

FCO up-to-date travel advice

Click to view travel options

By plane

Our recommended airport for this tour is Almería Airport (LEI). Alternative options are Murcia, Alicante-Elche, Málaga-Costa del Sol, and F.G.L. Granada-Jaén airports.

By train or bus
  • Almería Airport is the most convenient airport. Private airport transfers can be reserved in advance. The distance from Almería Airport to Agua Amarga is 55 km, approximately one hour by car.
  • Alternatively, you can use Murcia International Airport. On arrival in Murcia, you take a bus to Vera. There are several services a day and travel time is about 2 hours. From Vera, you take a taxi to your first accommodation in Agua Amarga (55km, approximately 40 minutes).
  • From Alicante airport, you first take a bus to Murcia. There are several services daily and travel time is about 55 minutes.
  • From Málaga Airport, you first take a bus to Almería. There are several services daily and travel time is 3 to 3.5 hours. From Almería, you take a taxi to your first accommodation in Agua Amarga (60km, approximately 50 minutes).
  • For further information, timetables and tickets, visit Alsa or use the Omio planner above.

Inclusions

Included

  • 7 nights in nice hotels in private en-suite rooms
  • 7 breakfasts, 5 dinners and 5 pack lunches
  • Luggage transfers from hotel to hotel on days 3 & 6 (1 piece up to 20 kg per person)
  • Detailed digital holiday information pack including GPS-checked and regularly updated route descriptions, road notes and maps. Please note that the info pack is emailed to you prior to departure and no printed documents are mailed or provided on site
  • 24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative

Excluded

  • Airfare and connecting land transfers
  • 2 lunches, 2 dinners, drinks and snacks
  • Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
  • Personal expenses
  • Local tourist taxes and entry fees (payable on-site)
  • Any items not explicitly listed as included

Options, extras & supplements

  • A supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room
  • This holiday is available for solo travellers; a supplement will be charged as accommodation and luggage transfer costs are not shared (we never mix and match – solo travellers will be accommodated in single rooms)
  • Extra nights along the trail are bookable upon request
  • Airport transfers are bookable upon request

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