Cabo de Gata natuurpark
The Natural Park of Cabo de Gata-Nijar, with one of the most beautiful and ecologically rich coastal strips in the western Mediterranean, is the first natural land and sea park in Andalusia. It is Located on the southeastern point of the province of Almeria, to the south of the area of Campo de Nijar, with an area of 34,000 hectares plus a sea strip a mile wide. The fundamental nucleus of the Natural Park are the Cabo de Gata mountains, a volcanic mountainous massif whose southwestern flank falls directly over the Mediterranean sea forming abrupt cliffs interrupted by small coves at the mouths of the principal gullies which erode the sides of the mountain range.
The northwestern flank rises up over the neocene depression of the Campo de Nijar and is also deeply dissected by gullies whose alluvions have formed extensive alluvial fan-shaped deposits as they leave the mountains which together with the deposits from the mountain sides soften the contact between the mountain range and the depression. The strong personality of this natural space is derived, in essence, from the volcanic origin of two thirds of its surface area and from the demanding conditions imposed upon it by a local climate which is exceptionally dry and from the obvious deficiencies in the land. As a consequence of its volcanic structure, forming part of the neocene volcanism of calcoalkaline character of the southeast of the Iberian Peninsula, the mountain range has ended up as a group of peaks, sharp points, crests and domes which give rise to a craggy broken up landscape. The Natural Park includes, likewise, a coastal border of saltworks of 300 hectares which, due to their geographical location, are the obligatory stopping place between Europe and Africa for numerous birds on their migratory routes and they are also an ideal nesting habitat for other species.
Flora and Fauna of Cabo de Gata nature park
It has the natural vegetation of bioclimatic thermomediterranean soil linked to desert plants of a semiarid-arid character. It is worth mentioning the series of the "cornical" (Maytenus senegalensis subsp. europaeus), located in abrupt exposed areas, where the maresia (small annual plants) are patent and the series of the "azufaifal" (Ziziphus lotus), which represents a good part of the potential vegetation of the semiarid and arid zones of Almeria.
In the high areas and inland there are formations of lentiscus with palmettos and hawthorns. This is land which is rich in endemic vegetable species of which the following stand out: Androcymbium europaeum, Antirrhinum charidemi, Dianthus charidemi, Helianthemum alypoides, Linaria nigricans, Sideritis osteoxylla, Teucrium charidemi, Ulex canescens, Verbascum charidemi. In the saltworks, vegetation natural to briny ground grows and the presence of reed and tamarisse beds is worth mentioning.
It is an obligatory stopping place for the migratory birds on route to Africa of which 142 species have been recorded. In the southern zone the fishing eagle and the Monticola solitarius nest. Among the birds that live in the saltworks it is without doubt worth mentioning the flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber), of which more than 3,000 specimens have been counted during the summer season and other species such as the avocet, stilt birds, dumlins, wagtails and other members of the plover family. Belchos (sand-growing plants), wild olive trees. Colony of cormorants on the rocky crag of Roldan.
Up until a few years ago the presence of monk seals was detected. Livestock (principal resource of the mountains). Montpellier snake, ladder snake, Latastes viper, Coronella austriaca, Zamenis hippocrepis. Lizards, wall lizards, geckos (of various species). Hedgehogs, shrews, bats. Rabbits, hares, moles, rats, foxes, weasels and genets...