Desert Exploration

imageimageimageimageimageYes, honestly, a real desert…

Right, cards on the table. This trip does not have a theme like many of my other adventures. Well OK, it is about the pure unbridled pleasure of riding my beloved Harley, but we are not chasing fictional spies or following in the historical footsteps of anyone. The trip doesn’t even have a name, though I am open to suggestions! There are, however, one to two places that we are going that I have long had on the old Dookes radar. Tonight the destination was the Bardenas Reales Natural Park.

This is an extensive semi-desert unpopulated area of nearly 42,000 hectares in the South East of Navarra. It has a unique landscape with high cabezos cliffs, raised plateaus, hidden ravines and eroded land forms matched by few places on earth. There are three main areas but tonight we only had time to head for the most spectacular, La Bardena Blanca.

The landscape is jaw dropping amazing. It’s evolution began about 20 million years ago when the depression was marsh and inland sea. Geological changes then caused the land to drain to the north and further shifting of the rocks brought about a tilt that reversed the flow of the Rio Ebro to drain into the Mediterranean. The alluvial deposits became soft mudstones with sandstones capping them. Over time, weathering has attacked the landscape wearing the mudstones and silts away quicker than the sandstone and leaving behind a spectacular and changing scenery. The area receives minimal rainfall and is officially Europes largest desert.

The rock formations are amazing, best of all is Cabezo de Castildetierra which is a fragile finger pointing skywards and literally in the middle of nowhere! Access to the park is via gravel tracks, which certainly  puts off many visitors and I must admit that under normal circumstances I would not have dreamed of taking Harley off Tarmac, but you don’t get to drive in a desert everyday! So….off we went, slowly, very slowly!  You can see from the pictures that Harley certainly got the dust in her toes and by the time we got back on real roads certainly looked a tad weathered! The whole place has a touch so Area 51 about it, engendered by the presence of a large military zone complete with barbed wire sentry towers and signs basically telling you to go away….I didn’t see any UFO’s though!

Sorry that the photos are in one block, but at least I got them posted! If the photos remind you of anything, well, think Spagetti Western and you’ll be spot on as many of them were filmed around these parts. As Clint once said “With the Rojos on one side and the Baxters on the other, a man could make money here…..”

“On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair”

Catch you all later, off to the High Sierras, in cowboy speak, next!