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The Tabernas Desert (Spanish: Desierto de Tabernas) is one of Spain's semi-arid deserts, located within Spain's southeastern province of Almería. The Tabernas desert is located in the interior, about 30 kilometers (19 mi) north of the provincial capital, Almería, in the Tabernas municipality.[1] Due to its high altitude and inland location, it has slightly higher annual rainfall (more than 200 mm per year) and lower annual average temperature than coastal areas of Almeria. It is a nature reserve (protected area) spanning 280 square kilometres (110 square miles).

Tabernas Desert
A view of the desert.
Area280 km2 (110 sq mi)
Native nameDesierto de Tabernas
Autonomous CommunityAndalusia
Population centerTabernas
Coordinates37°00′N 2°27′W / 37°N 2.45°W / 37; -2.45Coordinates: 37°00′N 2°27′W / 37°N 2.45°W / 37; -2.45



A Sunrise in the Tabernas Desert

Tabernas desert has various types of climates; from the hot desert climate (BWh) and hot semi-arid climate (BSh) in a few lowland areas to the cold desert climate (BWk) and the cold semi-arid climate (BSk) in most of the desert. The Tabernas Desert is situated between the Sierra de los Filabres to the north and the Sierra de Alhamilla to the south-southeast, isolating it from the humid winds of the Mediterranean Sea, in an area with little rainfall known as Levante.

In the lowest areas of the Tabernas basin (about 400 meters above sea level), the average annual temperature is of about 18.0 °C ([1] (Soil–geomorphology relations in gypsiferous materials of the Tabernas Desert (Almería, SE Spain), page 4/30). Temperatures in winter rarely drop below freezing at night while during the summer, absolute maximum temperatures always surpass 40 °C (104 °F) in the shade. The annual average precipitation is between 15-22 cm (depending on the zone, see same source pages 1 & 4/30) with only 1/3 falling in the hot season (May to October). The average annual sunshine is about 3000 hours.

Thus the Tabernas climate, between 400 and about 800–900 meters, is a) at the edge of the temperate and subtropical climates (The 18 °C mean annual isotherm separates both climates), b) semi-arid of "Syrian" type (see Georges Viers, Éléments de climatologie, Paris, Nathan, 1990) which means that the dry season occurs during the hot season (= 6 hottest months of the year).

These characteristics are also aggravated by the foehn effect.

Above about 800–900 meters the precipitation increases, thus reducing the dry summer season, while the temperature drops. At these altitudes, the Tabernas basin climate is not any more semi-arid but either Mediterranean or, at the highest points, even cold temperate, experiencing several frozen winter months.

Panoramic view of Tabernas Desert from A-92 (GPS 37.016773 -2.446092)

Geology and biologyEdit


The little rainfall that occurs is usually torrential, so that the ground, consisting of marls and sandstone with little vegetation, is unable to retain moisture. Instead, the rain causes erosion, forming the characteristic landscape of badlands. Arroyos formed by torrential rain harbor the scarce vegetation and fauna such as swifts, hedgehogs, jackdaws, pin-tailed sandgrouses, blue rock thrushes, stone curlews, trumpeter finches, and crested larks.

Flora and faunaEdit

The desert is well endowed with vegetation for a desert. Plants such as the sea lavender (Limonium insignis), which are teetering on the verge of extinction, manage to flourish in the semi-arid environment of the desert. In winter, the landscape of the desert turns white when the toadflax linaria (Nigricans lange) flowers. There are specimens of yellow scorpions (Buthus occitanus), tarantulas (Lycosa tarentulla) and black widows (Latrodectus tredecimguttatus) although it's not deadly as the American black widow. Coastal areas have lesser weevers such as Echiichthys vipera and Tachinus dracco which usually live under the sand. [2]

Reptiles and amphibiansEdit

The reptilian population of the desert includes ladder snakes, spiny-footed lizards and ocellated lizards. Marsh frogs, natterjack toads and terrapins inhabit the moist areas of the desert.


Birds of prey such as the Bonelli's eagles and peregrine falcons roam the desert's skies. Lesser hunters include kestrels and eagle owls. Species such as the blue rock thrush, rock sparrow, rock bunting inhabit the rocky areas of the desert whereas warblers, goldfinches, golden orioles and serins prefer the ramblas near the dry river beds.[1]


The desert does not have a great number of mammalian species, with the total number a meager 20.The Algerian hedgehog, besides significant rabbit, hare and dormouse species, is one of the most important mammals inhabiting the area.


"Yucca-City" in the desert of Tabernas

The Desert of Tabernas, because of its similarities with the North American deserts like the Far West of the American West, northern Africa, the Arabian deserts, and its lunar landscape, has been a popular area to shoot many films and westerns since the 1950s. The spaghetti westerns were shot at the three main studios, Texas Hollywood, Mini Hollywood, and Western Leone. [3]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Williams, Jo. "DESIERTO DE TABERNAS NATURAL AREA". Retrieved 15 January 2013.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Top Movie locations Retrieved 19 November 2012

External linksEdit