Terrain in Andalucia
Common types of terrain in Andalucia – what are you likely to find when overlanding in rural, southern Spain? Andalucia has a varied landscape just like any other but for the overlander you are likely to experience one thing for sure and that is dust. The region is tremendously dry.
Using GPS for a planned trip and it is more or less guaranteed that you will be hitting the ‘campo’ and driving through agricultural land which predominantly consists of almond or olive groves. The tracks through these fields are generally not challenging but they are very dusty.
Woodland is common, the region is scattered with ‘Natural Parks’ many of which are made up from pine trees which climb up the mountain sides. Woodland terrain can be challenging and there are many off roads and tracks to explore. Many of these roads are a leisurely drive through the park while others [for the more adventurous] can take you into the depths up steep hills and far more challenging terrain.
Tracks can lead to dead ends, they gradually become less and less ‘track’ and more ‘woodland’ until you find yourself with nowhere left to go, some however will lead you to some spectacular locations that you would not have otherwise found, a true sense of adventure and exploration.
Travelling through such places does have its drawbacks, the Andalucian woods are not very forgiving on your paintwork, bushes are thick, thorny and will mark your 4×4. Low hanging branches can be problematic in places so if you’re carrying anything on the roof rack or sporting an awning then it’s worth noting that in remote wooded areas it can get tight, almost like you’re entering middle earth…
Mountain trails are where the fun starts, you can discover mountain trails throughout most natural parks in Andalucia but it’s the tracks that are not sign posted that can bring a more challenging drive as well as some beautiful scenery and views. Google maps/GPS is your friend…
Tracks to these kinds of places are best tackled in the dry, some areas are steep with switchbacks and the roads are rocky [typical mountain terrain], you may also find yourself navigating ‘divets’ in the roads where water has erroded the earth, some are very deep and while a local farmer may have partially filled the road with rocks he would have been in a tractor…
There is no getting away from the fact that the landscape is harsh in Andalucia filming for the spaghetti westerns and a whole host of other classics was done just down the road in Almeria so you get the picture, there are also limited opportunities to pitch a ground tent given the ground and rocks in many places so finding a camp spot can be a challenge.
Which Tracks to Take?
As said planning your GPS route is a good idea, there are the trails you can take that lead you on a planned route although it is worth looking at those mountain tracks that lead to nothing, by that we mean the end of the road in a literal sense but that spot at the end of that road can be a stunning place to spend some time, kick back and relax, even camp.
Of course not all of the terrain in andalucia/southern Spain is like this, other areas to explore on your overlanding trip are:
- Rugged coastline [costa Almeria/Tropical]
- Expansive beaches [costs de la luz]
- Desert [Almeria]
- Olive/Almond groves
- Evergreen woodland
- Mountain ranges [Cazorla natural park/Sierra Nevada]
Don’t forget the camera…