The province of Granada in Spain has two unique features, the Alhambra, one of the very few Muslim palaces in the world and the Geoparque of Granada, an impressive area that shows the history of earth of the last 2,5 million years, including the Gorafe desert.
The Geoparque is a huge area (more than 4700 km2), but the most interesting town and surrounding area is without any doubt Gorafe. There are three sites that you simply cannot miss when visiting.
How to get to the Gorafe desert?
Places to visit in the Gorafe desert
The first place to visit is The Megalithic Constructions Interpretive Centre, an educational center dedicated to the 240 dolmens in Gorafe and life during the Megalithic period. The center is located in the heart of the village and admission is about 3 euros. You can only visit it at noon or at 5pm in the afternoon. The guided visit takes about 3 hours.
Afterward, you should pay a visit to the dolmens themselves in the Megalithic Park, just outside the village. Admission is free! Gorafe has the highest concentration of burial mounds in the whole of Spain.
The highest part of the park is located on a road called Mirador del Llano de Olivares. If you keep on following this road, you will eventually arrive at the area commonly known as “the Gorafe desert”. Technically, this is not a desert, but rather an impressive series of badlands, in all shapes, sizes and colors. A must-see! Lots of tourists visit this area via a company that organizes guided tours.
The biggest disadvantage is that these tours can be quite expensive. (100 euros and more). The good news is that you can visit these badlands also on your own.
With a bit of luck, you can see these fellows:
Keep on following the road; a bit further, you can see Gorafe from a different point of view!
You are now very close to the badlands. For the most part, you will be driving on a dirt road which is in a quite good condition. Here and there, there are potholes: just use your common sense and drive slowly.
This is the kind of landscape you will see:
After an hour, you will see a very dramatic landscape. It’s called “Los Coloraos” and can be best compared to a small version of the Grand Canyon:
You could continue on the same road, but we strongly advise against this, mainly because the road becomes quite dangerous. It’s better to turn around and drive back to Gorafe.
More practical information for visiting Gorafe
Looking for a meal? Don’t forget that in the province of Granada, tapas are free! If you combine them with a racion (big tapa), a bocadillo (sandwich) or a mixed salad, you have a proper meal. If you insist on a restaurant, go for a “menu diario”(usually 3 courses and 1 drink for 10 euros!). We had lunch in the bar opposite the church of the neighboring village of Villanueva de las Torres (big fresh tapas!). Last but not least, during summer, make sure you have plenty of water with you.
There are plenty of other interesting locations:
- If you can’t have enough of the badlands, check out the villages of Belerda and Fonelas (about 35 kilometers to the southwest of Gorafe);
- about 50 kilometers to the east, you will find the Embalse de Negratin, a reservoir with turquoise water surrounded by pinkish badlands;
- Or you can go to Guadix (30 kilometers to the south) and explore its cathedral and cave houses.