Tabernas, A True Desert in Europe

Panoramic View of Tabernas Desert

When it comes to true deserts most people are familiar with the Sub Tropical Deserts - associated with Sahara, Arabian Desert or California Mojave, the deserts we think of from the movies. The Cold Winter Deserts also known as dry "Arid Deserts" can be associated with high altitude locations, South America, parts of the USA and Central Asia. As well as the category known as Cool Coastal Deserts, there is also a lesser known category called the "Semi Arid Deserts".
View from inside a desert cave, Tabernas Desert
In the Andalusian region is the province of Almeria, where you will find a Semi Arid desert like no other can be found. The Tabernas Desert is simply jaw dropping. From Almeria Airport the desert is only a 25 minute drive away and the moment you hit the road the landscape starts to change before your eyes. Within a matter of minutes of passing the last of the vegetation you can feel the temperature rise by five degrees and a strange sensation of your arrival on what could be a new planet. 
View of wall carvings of desert, Tabernas Desert

 What is most impressive about the Tabernas Desert is that the actual architecture of the desert is like a reverse caricature, the desert comes across like the giant features have been moved closer together. The ramblas, where over thousands of years, flood water has eroded walls of the canyons - known as "badlands". So much detail has been squashed into this 18,000 square Kilometers that it will defy logic.

Grand Canyon Style Desert Backdrop, Tabernas Desert

Grand Canyon style scenery

This intense landscape means that the different parts of the desert are diverse in all aspects from rocks to plants.

Unusual Rock Formation, Tabernas Desert

With such amazing landscape and also being in Europe you would assume that the desert is used by film companies, you would not be far wrong. The Tabernas desert, although a very traditional and rustic town is always home to cool and fashionable film crews from all over the world. Between April and November, the desert can have as many as two - three films on various locations.  Every two years approximately a serious budget willy arrive in the desert with hundreds of people on set, transforming the town into a desert Hollywood.

Oasis in the Tabernas Desert

Tabernas Desert Oasis

For those who are adventurous there are parts of the desert where its dangerous. These are normally spectacular locations and can be a real lure and buzz. Locals will always warn however to be accompanied by people who know the area as there are many high elavation locations with soft ridges. Areas also to be avoided during summer months are caves home to scorpions and spiders. And far into the red area of the desert with zero mobile signal.

Desert cave, Tabernas Desert

Tabernas Sandstone caves

Desert Cave close up, Tabernas Desert

Luxury is one thing you wont find in this desert and that's because it doesn't fit with this towns heritage. Cowboys, stunt men and gun fights can be found at the nearby film studios that are right in the heart of the desert. The place that founded the Spaghetti western, is a tough town where the weather is wild and unforgiving, the locals are real cowboys and real gunslingers.

View from inside Cortijo Building, Tabernas Desert

I have become a bit of an expert on the Tabernas Desert, something drew me into its idealogy and fashionable understated cool, which means you can look good in any vehicle or motorbike in any cloths - as long as they are not shiny. 

"I first visited two years ago,

Photo of Max Young in the Tabernas Desert

and I haven't truly left".