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Gorafe Desert – the Grand Canyon of Andalucia

Deep in southern Spain, there's a hidden spot that looks a lot like the Grand Canyon. As you explore this place, you'll find old stone structures from the Bronze Age and see how wind and water have shaped the land over time. Come with us as we journey through the Gorafe Desert and uncover its many secrets.

The Gorafe desert, located in the province of Granada in Andalusia, appears as if it were from a different planet. The area is characterized by a variety of shapes and colors, showcasing a unique beauty reminiscent of places such as Cappadocia or the Grand Canyon. The following blog post is a comprehensive display of everything you need to know about this exceptional destination in Southern Spain.

Gorafe Desert Drone

History of the desert landscape

Like a river valley, the Gorafe Desert, also known as the “Badlands,” carves its way through the landscape of the Guadix-Baza lowlands. Remarkably, over 100,000 years ago, this area was home to a lake nestled amidst mountains, flourishing with diverse animal and plant life. The overflow of this lake through the Guadiana Menor River into the Río Guadalquivir left behind a captivating sedimentary basin. What endures today is an unparalleled, rugged terrain boasting an unmistakable character.

Spain Nature Off Road
Jazda Terenowa Hiszpania

Getting to the Gorafe Desert

Whether you are staying in Granada, Malaga, or Almeria, the easiest and fastest way to reach the Gorafe Desert is through the A92. Conveniently, there is a direct exit to the town, ensuring a smooth journey to this mesmerizing destination.

Highlights of the Gorafe Desert

Gorafe Megalithic Park

In the Gorafe Desert, there are approximately 240 dolmens, which are burial structures dating back to the Bronze Age. This vast collection of archaeological sites represents the largest concentration of such structures in all of Europe. Notably, around 30 of these dolmens have been meticulously restored and preserved, showcasing their original condition.

Caves Gorafe Desert
Jaskinie Pustynia Gorafe

Llanos de los Olivares

The Llanos de los Olivares encompass expansive pastures on a wide plain, stretching from the edge of the gorge to the Baúl Creek in Los Balcones. This dehesa, a characteristic feature of Andalusia, comprises a forest of holm oaks and pines interspersed with lush pastures. It’s exceptional positioning amidst the arid environment adds to its uniqueness.

Los Filetes del Diablo

The Filetes del Diablo will leave you breathless! The steep and rugged landscape evokes images of the iconic Grand Canyon in America and the desert of Jordan. It’s truly astonishing to imagine that a pathway winds through this seemingly impenetrable terrain, and it’s the only one of its kind. Nature has truly showcased its artistic prowess through the remarkable relief sculpted solely by erosion!

Gorafe Desert Grand Canyon


The Geodésico viewpoint, a prominent feature of the Geo Route, stands out as one of its highlights. From this vantage point, visitors can indulge in a mesmerizing 360° panoramic view of the desert and the adjacent mountains. These mountains act as a shield against rainfall, contributing to the arid climate prevalent in this region. Andalusia’s majestic mountain ranges unfurl like a feast for the eyes: the Sierras de Cazorla, Segura, and Las Villas, the Sierra de Castril, the Sierra de Baza, and in the south, the Sierra Nevada. To the west, the Sierra de Huétor, and to the northeast, the Sierra Mágina complete the breathtaking spectacle.

Off The Road Gorafe Desert

Los Colorados

Another noteworthy point you mustn’t miss is the Los Colorados zone. The mountains in this area showcase vibrant hues of red and orange, adorned with white streaks that serve as a testament to the Earth’s geological history. For geologists, these mountains unfold like an open book, revealing the secrets of time. During rare but heavy rainfall, the valleys transform into lush green oases, creating a striking contrast against the red backdrop of the mountains. The Los Colorados area is an unforgettable experience, where the breathtaking beauty of the landscape intertwines with the palpable silence of the desert, etching a lasting impression in your memory.

Toyota Land Cruiser Grj76 off-road

Where to stay close to Gorafe Desert

There are numerous accommodation options available in and around the Gorafe Desert. From traditional cave dwellings in the village of Gorafe to contemporary tiny houses nestled amidst the desert, there is something to suit every preference.

Kawa w Terenie Hiszpania
Gorafe Desert Camping

La Casa del Desierto

Undoubtedly, one of the most renowned destinations for an unparalleled desert experience is the extraordinary glass structure. Originally created by Guardian Glass as a showcase to demonstrate the innovative use of glass in housing construction, this iconic marvel has garnered significant acclaim. With its distinctive design devoid of outer walls, the glass structure boasts a single bedroom and bathroom. Powered by solar energy and supplied with water from an underground tank, this unit ensures sustainability in the desert environment. Designed to provide a cool respite even in the sweltering heat that reaches around 30 degrees Celsius during the day, it also withstands harsh, dusty winds. In this somewhat secluded region, guests can relish a sense of privacy by drawing the heavy curtains that adorn the exterior of the house.

Fun fact: The remarkable glass structure achieved further recognition when it was featured in the “Smitherness” episode of Season 5 in the popular TV series Black Mirror.

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Districthive Colony 

Similar yet distinct from the previous accommodation, this remarkable pod hotel caters specifically to the tastes of Generation Y and Z visitors. Offering luxury and innovation, this self-sustaining off-grid pod embodies both comfort and exceptional design, leaving no room for compromise. It has gained recognition as a haven for travelers, social media enthusiasts, food lovers, adventurers, and digital nomads. Undoubtedly, it is an experience that is truly worth indulging in!

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Cuevas Algarves de Gorafe

Experience a unique and unforgettable stay at Cuevas Algarves de Gorafe, where ancient history meets modern comfort. Nestled within the captivating Gorafe Desert, these cave accommodations offer a one-of-a-kind retreat. Step into a world carved into the rock, where you’ll find cozy chambers adorned with traditional elements and contemporary amenities. Immerse yourself in the authentic atmosphere of these cave dwellings, while enjoying the convenience of modern facilities. With a stay at Cuevas Algarves de Gorafe, you’ll discover the perfect blend of history, serenity, and an extraordinary connection with the surrounding natural beauty.

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Off-Road at Gorafe Desert

Off-roading at the Gorafe Desert is not just about the adrenaline rush; it’s also an opportunity to connect with nature on a profound level. Feel the serenity and solitude that envelops you as you explore the vastness of this untamed wilderness. Take a moment to pause, breathe in the fresh desert air, and appreciate the sheer beauty of your surroundings.

Toyota Land Cruiser Off Road Spain
Gorafe Desert Overlanding

Whether you’re an experienced off-road enthusiast or a first-time adventurer, the Gorafe Desert offers an unforgettable off-roading experience. So, rev up your engine, embrace the spirit of adventure, and prepare for an adrenaline-fueled journey through one of Spain’s most captivating desert landscapes.

Best Overlanding in Europe

If you’re interested in off-roading through the Gorafe Desert, we invite you to explore the following route carefully crafted by our friends at Iberica Overlands. This exhilarating journey takes you on a full loop that begins in the charming village of Gorafe and concludes at the very same place. Prepare yourself for an unforgettable off-road adventure, as you traverse the rugged terrain, witness breathtaking landscapes, and immerse yourself in the untamed beauty of the Gorafe Desert.

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