Do you want to know what the landscape of the moon looks like without leaving the Earth? Come to the Barrancos de Gebas (gorges), in the centre of the Region of Murcia between the municipalities of Alhama de Murcia and Librilla.
This protected natural area stuns visitors with its colours, shapes, contrasts, nature and history, impressing all who tread its stark slopes, with the waters of the Algeciras Reservoir in the background. The Barrancos de Gebas stand as a counterpoint to the environmental contrasts of the Peninsula’s southeast. Few places feature forests as dense as that of the Sierra Espuña, not far from the sub-desert landscape of Gebas. Despite appearances, the area is home to communities of fauna and flora fascinating for how they have adapted to survive under very difficult conditions of low rainfall and intense sunshine.
Thanks to all these elements, the Barrancos de Gebas was declared a Protected Landscape in 1995. In addition, their great geological and geomorphological value means that they represent one of the finest examples of badlands in the Region of Murcia, leading to their classification as a Site of Geological Interest (LIG).
Ricardo Codorniú Visitors and Management Centre
Phone: 968 431 430
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org / Web: www.murcianatural.carm.es
THE PARK RECOMMENDS
The best way to experience this place is to enjoy the landscape from its marked viewpoints and trails, appreciating its colours at different times of the day and seasons of the year, breathing in its aromas and listening to its sounds.
Among the attractions of the natural space are its geomorphological sculptures, flora and fauna that survive its extreme conditions, the Algeciras Reservoir, and the nearby village of Gebas (which gives the landscape its name).
During your visit, do not forget to:
- Leave your vehicle in the authorized parking lots.
- Always walk on the authorized trails; taking and forging shortcuts damages the soil.
- Respect the area’s fauna and flora.
- Be as quiet as you can, as loud noises disturb wildlife and other visitors.
- Preserve elements of geological, archaeological and historical
interest. Do not alter or remove anything, as it belongs to everyone.
- Protect yourself from the sun, and bring plenty of water.
- Avoid hiking through this landscape on days of intense heat, sunshine, wind and rain, or if it has recently rained.
- Be responsible for any waste you generate; take it home or use the containers. Remember that cigarette butts and food are also garbage.
- Keep your pet leashed and remember to pick up any droppings.
- Do not feed wild animals, for their health and your safety.
- In the event of an emergency, call 112.
Despite the harsh conditions of the environment, a large number of plant species have managed to develop thanks to their adaptation to this type of habitat. This is the case of plants such as the Mediterranean saltbush (Atriplex halimus), Mediterranean strawflower (Helihrysum stoechas), pale stonecrop (Sedum sediforme), broom (Salsola genist oides), esparto grass (Macrochloa tenacissima), black sagebrush (Artemisia barrelieri), cord grass or albardine (Lygeum spartum) and caper bush (Capparis spinosa). In the depths of the most humid ravines is salt cedar (Tamarix sp), oleander (Nerium oleander), bulrush (Scirpus holoschoenus), common reeds (Phragmites australis) and giant reeds (Arundo donax). On some elevations near the periphery of the area there are examples of Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis) and black hawthorn (Rhamnus lycioides), among others.
THE PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENT
The geological history of this place stems back about 10 million years, when the Sierra Espuña was an island and the sediments resulting from its erosion were deposited on the seabed. After the sea retreated some six or seven million years ago, this ancient sea floor began to erode. Since then, different tectonic readjustments, periodic torrential rains and damaging agricultural practices have ended up giving rise to this natural wonder.
Geological processes have shaped the rock in whimsical ways, generating beautiful geomorphological sculptures such as gullies, gypsum strata, fairy chimneys (hoodoos) and pipings.
The Gebas Ravines Protected Landscape contains a very interesting faunal community comprised of reptiles such as the Montpellier snake (Malpolon monspessulanum), the Sierra Nevada lizard (Timon nevadensis) and the ladder snake (Rhinechis escalaris). Some birds of prey that can be spotted flying due to the proximity of the forest mass of the Sierra Espuña Regional Park, include the buzzard (Buteo buteo) and golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), which use this as a breeding area. In addition, we find other species such as the little owl (Athene noctua), jackdaw (Corvus monedula), red-billed chough (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax), stone curlew (Burhinus oedicnemus) and, due to the presence of water, aquatic species like the great crested grebe (Podiceps cristatus), common grebe (Trachybaptus ruficollis), mallard (Anas platyrrhynchos) and great grey heron (Ardea cinerea).
Finally, the group of mammals is represented by the elusive fox (Vulpes vulpes), wild boar (Sus scrofa), common hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus), badger (Meles meles) and small field mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus), as well as the famous and omnipresent rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus), among others.
The agricultural activity at the Barrancos de Gebas still represents a shining example of integration into the environment, characterised by small-scale agriculture with a marked culture of minimal water usage due to the scarcity of this precious element. In addition, these traditional orchards have an added value, as they furnish the whole territory of the Barrancos de Gebas with a valuable biodiversity.
This landscape was not always like it is today. In the past, in what is now the bottom of the Algeciras Reservoir, there was a town near the current houses of Los Zancarrones, but today it was submerged by the waters of the reservoir, built in 1995.
There is a signposted overlook with informational panels, from which one can contemplate almost the entire Protected Landscape. You can reach this site by car, as it is equipped with a parking lot accommodating approximately two buses and 15 cars, or 25 cars. In addition, in the nearby Sierra Espuña Regional Park one finds the Ricardo Codorniú Visitors and Management Centre, where one can learn about the main natural and cultural features and characteristics of both the Sierra Espuña mountain range and the Barrancos de Gebas. There is an exhibition and film room, as well as an information service and personalized attention to visitors.