We dedicated the next day to an all day excursion to Cazorla Nature Park, which is located within an hour and a half’s drive from our house. As usual, I did my research and was really interested to see this part of Spain because it is supposed to be a huge nature preserve (the largest protected area in Spain) and one of the largest forested areas. Some of the pines in the park are some of the oldest in Spain — over 1,300 years old! Wow! I had read about the diverse and abundant wildlife that can be found in the park, and was hoping to see some of the meadows that are perfect for raising flocks of sheep. Our house is in a very dry part of Andalucia, and the Carloza Nature Park seemed like it might be an interesting contrast. Two of Spain’s main rivers, the Guadalquivir and the Segura run through the park, so there was hope to see part of a river, or even a waterfall!
We drove northwest from the casa, and finally arrived at the Embalse de Negratín., which is a reservoir just at the southern end of the park. It was a little amazing to see such a broad expanse of water because the area we’d just come from is quite dry.
After driving over the dam, we stopped in a parking area to get a better look at the reservoir. It was pretty, but an odd shade of greenish-blue. Was that natural or do they put something in the water?? Hmmm…
From here we left and drove on to a town named Hinojares. During our house hunt, I had found the most adorable home, fully furnished, and located in this whitewashed town. I used GoogleMaps and walked along the street view of this little town and thought it was absolutely charming. Unfortunately when I inquired about the house, it had actually been sold about six months prior, but was still listed as for sale. Apparently this is typical here in Spain. Homes are listed by multiple “estate agents” as they are called, and the seller may not let all of them know when the home is sold. I contacted several agents about a number of homes that had already been sold, but the listing was still online. In addition to this, the different agents might not list the home for the same prices. It’s very different from what we are used to here in the States.
But I digress…
The town of Hinojares is located in a valley, and we stopped at a scenic overlook to take some pictures.
There was an interesting sign at the overlook which explained a lot about this area. The translation into English seems a bit weird, but this is what it says (I quote):
“HINOJARES IS IN THE BANK OF AN OLD LARGE LAKE
The south of the Cazorla, Segura and Las Villas Natural Park has a different landscape. Nowadays you find arid soils in this area which originated at the bottom of a large lake.
Long after the formation of the mountains of La Sierra del Pozo and Quesada, only 20,000 years ago, in all the region there was an enormous interior lake which accumulated at the bottom mud and sediments coming from these mountains. But about 11,000 years ago a great movement of the earth’s crust tilted the area, the rivers changed the course and the lake disappeared leaving an arenous bottom.
During these 110 centuries the landscape has become eroded, the currents and the rain have carved the loamy rocks at the bottom of the lake as you can see in the white slope in front of the viewpoint. If you look carefully, upon the town, there is a plane horizon formed by these ochre and white lands which correspond with the material accumulated at the bottom of the old lake. The erosion continues taking down the no very solid lands of the original horizontal landscape and generates other full of precipices and gorges.
Among the materials at the bottom of the lake there are also rocks rich in salt. Some brooks dissolve them forming the courses with salty waters which has allowed the extraction of salt in manual exploitations like the Salt Pans of El Chillar.”
Wow that was hard to type because the translation is worded so strangely. Maybe I can get a job with Spain’s tourism council and help out with these crazy translations!
I thought this information was interesting though… even if the wording was odd. Maybe it’s the teacher in me, but I think all that history-of-the-Earth stuff is fascinating! I quoted it here because I searched and searched for some online resource to link to about this “ancient lake” but could find nothing about the geologic history of the area. I’m also curious about the Salt Pans of Chillar… if anyone has information to enlighten me, please share!
We left the lookout point and found an area with goats. This was no where near the green pastures with flocks of sheep that I was hoping for, but it was a creature in the Bovine family, so I was a step closer.
The next town we drove to is called Zujar. We passed through there lickety-split, and then stopped at another mirador to have a picnic lunch.
We saw this sign over and over while we were driving. Thank you GoogeTranslate for letting me know it means “Cattle Route.” Just for clarification, we did not see any cattle along this route, but I was on the lookout!
What we did start to see were more trees, more craggy cliffs, and more winding roads. In some places the roads were quite narrow and curved, but we were lucky not to have much oncoming traffic. We did meet up with a giant tour bus, but the driver was nice and stopped to let us pass through as opposed to making us squeeze by with him barreling past.
It was very warm while were were there and we didn’t see a lot of other people around. I think more people would be visiting when it was not so sweltering hot. This was a beautiful nature park with lots of hiking trails and signs with information about birds that could be seen in the area. I would like to return when the weather was a little cooler and more comfortable for hiking. This park is very large, though and I would imagine that there were a lot of people enjoying the lakes and cooling off! Next time I will come prepared with some detailed maps of the park, but for this trip it was time to make our way back down the mountainside.
So we bid adios to Cazorla Nature Park. Or maybe just ‘sta luego! Poor Curt was pretty tense after the narrow, twisty roads (we don’t have many of those in Texas) but our adventure wasn’t over for the day just yet…