“Rustic self-catering eco retreat in the desert gardens of Cabo de Gata Natural Park, near Med beaches”
In addition to Charo's house, there are 3 simple cottages for 2-4 all run on eco-friendly principles. In the garden, among cacti and bougainvillea, there’s a cool pavilion offering massage therapies; the Phoenician pool is fed by a well. From a hammock swinging from a Peruvian pepper tree, you can look across the canyons of the desert hills to the sea. Agua Amarga, with its sandy beach, white cliffs and dazzling white-cube houses, is 3km away.
- An awesome location, with lots to see: Cabo de Gata Natural Park has 34,000 hectares of desert wilderness, pretty villages, dunes, cliffs, volcanic rocks and a wetland Biosphere (with flamingos)
- Good value
- Soaking in the Jacuzzi as the sun goes down, or at night, gazing up at the stars
- Charo’s passion for the area is infectious, as is the slow pace of life she prescribes for her guests
- The incredible beaches of Cabo de Gata are among the most beautiful in Spain - and just a few kilometres away
- The area is not big on public transport so you'll need a car; no restaurants or shops within walking distance
- You'll want sensible shoes for the rocky garden paths, especially the steep steps leading down to the pool
- Resident wildlife includes snakes, spiders and scorpions, though we only saw skittering lizards
- Note the fairly strict cancellation policy
Best time to go
Our top tips
- Rural Retreat
- 3 cottages for 2-4
- Self-catering (restaurants a drive away)
- All ages welcome
- Open all year
- Outdoor Pool
- Spa Treatments
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
- Daily Maid Service
- Towels & Bedlinen
The 3 cortijos are built in the same style: a colourful fusion of painted beams and timbers, with kilims on rustic terracotta floors and a homely jumble of old and new furniture (comfy sofas, original art and quirky details like recycled sewing-machine tables).
Cala Enmedio and Cala el Plomo both have 2 bedrooms (a double and twin), a living room with a fireplace (winter evenings can be chilly), a kitchen-diner and 2 shaded terraces, the latter designed to capture the sun at different times of the day. Cala Enmedio has a one bathroom; Cala el Plomo has 2 ensuite shower rooms. Both have underfloor heating and dreamy views of the desert, the pool and the gardens.
Our favourite was Cala de Aguamarga, a spacious one-bedroom cortijo with huge picture windows across two walls, giving stunning views over the gardens, towards the hills and valleys. There is also a cool little mezzanine sleeping nook, accessed by a ladder, with a low ceiling and small beds for 2 children.
All the cortijos have fans for the summer and a wood-burner for the winter. There is also air-conditioning, but it's coin-operated, as befits an eco-conscious retreat such as this.
- Air conditioning
- CD player
- Coffee / tea making
- Coffee maker
- Cots Available
- DVD player
- Extra beds
- Hob or stove
- Honesty bar
- Mosquito net
- Pool/beach towels
- Washing machine
All the accommodation is self-catering, with an electric stove or hob and an arsenal of pans and cooking utensils. Alfresco dining tables overlook the gardens, pool and the landscape, and in the evening you can dine by candlelight under the stars. There is also a communal BBQ (wood for cooking is supplied) with a large circular table - a lovely shaded corner with views across the desert to the Mediterranean.
Nearby Agua Amarga has a bakery, deli and small convenience store; for more comprehensive shopping there are supermarkets in Carboneras (15 minutes away). When available, you can use herbs and vegetables from Charo’s organic garden, and eggs laid by her hens.
For eating out, Charo has a wealth of great restaurant tips - we ate in an amazing tapas bar in Carboneras. Also, don't miss La Haima de Fernan Perez, which serves an amazing Spanish-Asian fusion menu of tapas-style dishes. It's set in a wonderful Berber tent, with lovely views across the valley and national park.
- Coffee / tea making
- Coffee maker
- Hob or stove
- BBQ area
- Visit Agua Amarga: this whitewashed fishing village has a gorgeous sandy beach, cafés and bars, and a few shops. It also has a weekly market and there are canoes to rent in high season
- Cabo de Gata has some of the loveliest beaches in Spain, many of them completely undeveloped and natural
- Enjoy the desert on horseback. A local riding stables offers guided excursions, lessons for beginners and pony rides for kids
- Explore the Cabo de Gata on foot. With 16 marked trails (ranging in length from 1.5 to 11km and largely sticking to the coast), it’s a great way to see the beaches, rock formations and rugged terrain of this wildly beautiful region
- The Cabo de Gata is a bird-watcher’s paradise, particularly on the salt flats and lagoons of Las Salinas, where you can see storks, plovers, herons and crowds of greater flamingos
- Take a day trip. Options include a tour of the canyons, gullies and filmic cowboy landscapes of the Tabernas Desert (where the Spaghetti Westerns were filmed), or a 4x4 tour of the Cabo de Gata Natural Park. You can also rent bikes, go scuba-diving or paragliding, or do a boat trip around the coast
- Massages can be arranged in the restful Arabic Pavilion (best to request in advance, as availability varies through the week)
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Boat trips
- Horse riding
- Mountain biking
- Private guided tours
- Scuba diving courses
- Shopping / markets
- Well being
Children are welcome and the 2-bedroom cortijos are designed to accommodate families. Nearby Agua Amarga has a great family beach.
Family friendly accommodation:
The 2-bedroom cortijos each have a double and twin bedroom and can fit a baby cot. Cala de Aguamarga has sleeps 2, plus there's a mezzanine sleeping deck (best for older / well-behaved children).
- Baby cots
- High chairs
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
Families Should Know:
The pool is not fenced, and it can get extremely hot here in summer. Note the pool is closed mid-Dec-mid-March
La Joya is 3km west of Agua Amarga, near the Cabo de Gata Natural Park, in Andalucia, southern Spain. It's just under an hour from Almería and 3 hours from Malaga.
The closest airport is Almería. It’s 50km away and takes 40-50 minutes by car. Murcia-San Javier airport (186km) is around 2 hours to the north, and Malaga (280km) takes approximately 3 hours. Click on the links below for a list of airlines serving these airports.
For car hire see our car rental recommendations. There is a covered car park.
Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.com.
More on getting to Andalucia and getting around
- Almería 50.0 km LEI
- Murcia-San Javier 186.0 km MJV
- Beach 3.0 km
- Shops 3.0 km
- Restaurant 3.0 km