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Hiking in Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park

Take a day to make the exciting trip to Spain's largest volcanic rock formation with its sharp peaks and crags in red and ochre hues

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Cabo de Gata-Nijar Natural Park is a really unique spot in the southern part of Andalucia. This is the largest coastal protected area featuring a wild and isolated landscape with some of Europe's most original geological features. The territory is the only region in Europe with a true hot desert climate and is also the driest part of Europe. In 1997, this area was marked as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

As a result of the climate, the park has a spectacular range of flora and fauna. One of the most significant plants found here—the dwarf fan palm—is the park's symbol. The park is also rich in reptilian and bird life.

This beautiful place has plenty of unique features to observe: extensive coral reefs, castle ruins, tiny rocky islands, half-moon bays and volcanic rock formations. The tallest formation is also a popular trekking spot. Spectacular views hit you right upon arrival and will accompany you to the peak and back.

El Fraile, the highest peak of Cabo de Gata and its largest volcanic rock formation with sharp peaks, is only 493 m. It has a flat and quite large summit plateau. Climbing this peak takes one day and it is considered a very good start for beginners. Professionals can also find plenty of challenges and attributes. First of all, there is Spain's largest volcanic rock formation. Additionally, the scenery here is simply incredible with its jagged 100 m high cliffs, which are riven by gullies leading to hidden bays in the midst of white sandy beaches—some of the most beautiful in Andalucia.

Hiking in the Natural Park is available all year round, but summer is not the best time owing to the scorching temperatures that may reach up to 40 ºC. Thus, the recommended season is September through May. But if you prefer beach holiday, summer will do well.

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