Picos del Guadiana

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Picos del Guadiana

The Lower Guadiana Valley contains striking geological formations caused by slow and relentless erosion. One interesting site of great geomorphological interest has been proposed as a natural monument: the Picos del Guadiana. This is a limestone outcrop where the vertically-arranged rock strata emerge from a cone of soft clay, forming a rock profile resembling the teeth of a saw. The more imaginative among us say that it is a fossil from a colossal dinosaur which died next to the river, without paying much attention to the fact that this river did not exist during the Jurassic period and that dinosaurs, although certainly enormous, did not grow quite that big.


In geological terms, the Lower Guadiana River is very young. Up until about 10,000 years ago its basin was home to a large saltwater lake, which was fed with water and sediment by the numerous streams that ran down from the Sierra Nevada and Filabres mountains and the Cazorla and Segura massif. The watercourse we see today was the result of a violent accident: perhaps one of the sides of the lake was broken by an earthquake, carving out deep ravines and leaving in its wake barren wastelands of clay soils full of gypsum and salts, boulders and sand from the sea; an environment which would have made it difficult for the creatures that lived there to survive.

The depression that bears the name of the river is the most arid area in the province and one of the driest in Europe, with annual rainfall that very rarely exceeds 250 mm. The result is of a compelling and beautiful semi-desert landscape populated by steppe plants that are highly adapted to living in this environment, mainly consisting of herbs and small shrubs. They possess striking biological features and more than half the species in the area are endemic, having an extremely reduced geographical distribution. This remarkable biological exclusivity is only comparable to that of the high Baetic mountain areas, where the majority of the park's best-known endemic species are to be found.

 

We recommend…

  • Completing the Ruta del Desierto ("Desert Trail"), details of which can be found in the Hinojares Tourist Guide.
  • Visiting the Mirador del Lirio, a viewing point affording breathtaking panoramas of the valley and the park’s desert. It can be reached following the signs from the village of Fontana, which is about 5 kilometres from Pozo Alcón.
  • Other interesting spots in this area include the Iberian necropolis of Castellones de Ceal, near the village of Ceal, and Salinilla de Chillar, very close to Hinojares.

 

LOCATION

To visit the Picos del Guadiana and the sub-desert area of the park in the Lower Guadiana Valley, take the A-315 connecting Huesa with Pozo Alcón and Hinojares. The Picos del Guadiana viewing point is located at the beginning of this outcrop, in a section where the aforementioned road widens, about 14 kilometres from Hinojares and 19 kilometres from Pozo Alcón.



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