The Gorafe Desert is a unique landscape in the eastern part of Andalusia, Spain. It’s known for its arid climate, rocky outcrops, and stunning natural formations. Despite its name, it’s not a true desert but a semi-arid region with minimal rainfall throughout the year. Nevertheless, the Gorafe Desert is a unique and awe-inspiring destination that attracts visitors from all over the world. Let’s explore the wonders of the Gorafe Desert and discover what makes this region so special.
The Formation of the Gorafe Desert
To begin with, the Gorafe Desert formed over millions of years through various geological processes. Tectonic movements, erosion, and weathering shaped the landscape into what we see today. More specifically, the area was once submerged under a vast ancient river. Over time, the movement of the earth’s crust caused the waterbed to rise and fold. As a result, a badland landscape surrounded by mountains was created.
Top 10 Things to Do in and Around Gorafe Desert
1. Natural Park of Sierra de Baza
The Natural Park of Sierra de Baza is a stunning protected area located in the province of Granada, Spain. It covers an area of over 53,000 hectares and is home to a wide variety of Spanish flora and fauna, including several endangered species. In addition, Rugged mountains, deep valleys, and dense forests of oak, pine, and other trees characterize the park’s landscape. Also, several streams and rivers flow through the park, providing water to the local wildlife and creating beautiful waterfalls and pools. Visitors to the park can enjoy a range of outdoor activities, including hiking, birdwatching, and wildlife spotting. The Natural Park of Sierra de Baza is a true natural treasure that will amaze you.
2. Megalithic Park of Gorafe
This park is a fascinating archaeological site in the province of Granada. It is home to a collection of over 200 megalithic structures, including dolmens and standing stones, that date back to the Neolithic period. You can explore the park to learn about the history and significance of the megalithic structures even by bike or hiking. The park also has a visitors’ center where you can find more information about the site and purchase souvenirs. The Megalithic Park of Gorafe is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in history and archaeology.
3. A Hot Air Balloon Ride
Another thing you can do in the Gorafe desert is to go on a hot air balloon ride above Granada Geopark. From high up in the sky, you’ll get to see some of the most stunning landscapes in Spain, including the Sierra Nevada mountains, the Alhambra palace, and the surrounding countryside. As you float gently above the earth, you’ll feel a sense of peace and tranquility that is hard to find anywhere else. The hot air balloon ride is also a great way to get a different perspective on the Granada Geopark. You’ll be able to see geological formations, such as canyons, valleys, and mountains, from a unique vantage point. This is an adventure that is suitable for all ages and is perfect for anyone who loves nature, adventure, and breathtaking views. The prices are quite affordable as well for such a unique experience.
4. Hiking – Gorafe Desert
Hiking in the Gorafe desert is an incredible experience for anyone who loves the outdoors and adventure. The desert offers a unique landscape that is unlike anything you’ve seen before, with rugged mountains, deep valleys, and rocky canyons that are just waiting to be explored. There are several hiking trails in the area that range from easy to challenging, so there’s something for everyone. Some of the most popular trails include the Sendero de los Coloraos, which takes you through a stunning red canyon. As you hike through the desert, you’ll encounter a variety of wildlife and plant life, including eagles, vultures, and rare desert plants. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or a beginner, hiking in the Gorafe desert is an adventure that you don’t want to miss.
5. City of Granada
Visiting Granada from Gorafe is only 1 hour by car which makes it a perfect destination for a 2 days trip. Granada is a beautiful city that is rich in history, culture, and architecture. It also offers a range of activities and attractions for visitors to enjoy. Some of the top things to do in Granada include visiting the Alhambra Palace, exploring the narrow streets of the historic Albaicin neighborhood, and shopping for souvenirs in the bustling markets of the city center. Granada has also a vibrant nightlife, with plenty of bars, clubs, and restaurants to choose from. There you can find the cheapest tapas in Andalucia and make sure you taste the best tapas by joining the Granada Tapas Tour! Also, you should join the Granada Pub Crawl for an amazing night tour around the city’s best bars and clubs!
6. Hot Springs – Gorafe Desert
The hot springs near Gorafe are a popular attraction for visitors to the area. You will find the nearest hot water springs in Granada, only a 10-minute drive from Gorafe. The Balneario Alicún de las Torres is surrounded by stunning natural scenery, with views of the surrounding mountains and countryside. It is a great place to relax and unwind after a day of hiking or exploring the area.
7. Town of Guadix
Located just a short drive from Gorafe Desert, the town of Guadix is a fascinating destination that’s well worth a visit. With a history that dates back to ancient times, Guadix is home to some stunning historic architecture. For instance, there are cave houses and the magnificent Cathedral of Guadix. One of the highlights is the Alcazaba of Guadix, a Moorish fortress that dates back to the 10th century. Perched on a hill overlooking the town, the Alcazaba offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. Another must-see attraction in Guadix is the Barrio de Cuevas, a neighborhood with many cave houses. Carved out of the soft clay hills that surround the town, these cave houses are a distinctive part of the local architecture and have been used as dwellings for centuries. Visitors can explore some of these cave houses, which have been converted into museums, restaurants, and hotels.
8. Badlands of Marchal and Purullena
Another fascinating destination near Gorafe Desert is the Badlands of Marchal and Purullena. These unique landscapes are characterized by their colorful rock formations and eroded canyons, which have been sculpted by wind and water over millions of years. Visitors can explore the Badlands by foot or by 4×4 vehicle. It’s recommended to go by a 4×4 due to the rugged terrain and unpredictable weather conditions. With their stunning vistas and otherworldly beauty, the Badlands of Marchal and Purullena are a must-see for any nature lover or adventure seeker visiting the area.
9. Mirador del Fin del Mundo – Gorafe Desert
Mirador del Fin del Mundo, or the end of the world, is located only 5 minutes by car from the village of Beas de Guadix. It is a stunning viewpoint that offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. From this vantage point, visitors can see the Sierra Nevada mountains, the Badlands of Marchal and Purullena, and the rolling hills of the surrounding countryside. The viewpoint is accessible by car, and visitors can also hike or bike all the way up to the summit. With its breathtaking views and peaceful atmosphere, the Mirador del Fin del Mundo is a perfect spot to take in the beauty of the Andalusian countryside.
10. Sierra Nevada
Getting to the Sierra Nevada from Gorafe Desert is a relatively easy drive that takes just over an hour. Visitors can enjoy the scenic route through the mountains, which offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside. Once they have arrived in the Sierra Nevada, visitors can explore the various hiking trails. Visitors can also go skiing or snowboarding in the Sierra Nevada in the winter months, or simply take in the natural beauty of this spectacular mountain range. A trip to the Sierra Nevada is a must-do for any nature lover or adventure seeker visiting the Gorafe Desert. If you would like to know more, you can read about the Top 16 hiking trails in the Sierra Nevada.
Getting to Gorafe Desert
Gorafe Desert is located in the province of Granada, in the southern region of Andalusia, Spain. The nearest airport is Federico García Lorca Granada-Jaén Airport, which is located approximately 100 km from Gorafe. Visitors can also get to the area by car, taking the A-92 motorway from Granada or Almeria. Once in the area, there are several options for getting around, including car rentals, local buses, and organized tours.
You can also find more information about the Guadix Cave Houses such as the opening hours and the entrance fee on Guadix’s official website.