Puerto de Santillana s(u)

In retrospect, this day was the best day of this tour. Often the best days are surprises and this was a complete surprise, because I really had no idea what to expect. But even had I known what views, what weather (-excellent) and what type of scenery was  waiting for me along this ride, I would still have to rate it ahead of most other surprises on this tour.

There are arguably two paved road passes over the Sierra Nevada, first the 2042 meter high Puerto de la Ragua, and arguably this one. Arguably - because it really just skirts across the eastern end of the range. But it definitely feels like a high crossing on a bike. The landscape here is the special, extremely dry kind. This end of the mountains provide a downslope rainshadow for the moist weather systems, that arrive from the Atlantic. Further down towards Almeria, this results in the driest climate in all of Europe, and that even though it is a coastal area. And then there are the towns along the way. More below.

I have used the pictures of panoramio and flickr contributors, as well as other web sites to illustrate this page. There are copyright notices and links  to all original pictures. My own pictures were on a computer, that was stolen at the train station Frankfurt Airport (model Acer Aspire One (serial# NUSGPAA01625101C947600F)


01.(00.0km,0020m) START-END SOUTH: Adra
02.(22.3km,0350m)outskirts of Berja
03.(38.5km,0900m)road passes above Alcolea
04.(44.8km,0910m)Laujar de Andarax
06.(56.0km,0900m)right goes to Almocita, profile stays left
08.(65.2km,0980m)nortern entrance to Ohanes, and jct with alternate approach from below.
10,(72.7km,1220m)Puerto de Santillana
11.(75.0km,1350m)TOP: Puerto de Santillana s(u)
12.(84.4km,0820m)entrance to Abla
13.(88.2km,0750m) START-END NORTH: low point on road paralelling A92


From North.
The profile uses the route that I came up to approach this summit. A more direct way exists from the Almeria area. When I get to point 7, there is nothing in the way anymore to interrupt the view of the Sierra Nevada ahead. Much to my surprise there is really no descend down into the valley between the Sierra Contraviesa and Sierra Nevada. The reason is that this road skirts the western end of both ranges.

The profile detours from the new wide highway, that the main route now follows through the valley towns Laujar de Andarax and Fondon. Andarax has a tourist office, which was closed when I was there, just like they are 90 percent of the time I pass by them. In the next section the new highway climbs in mild curves up a rolling dry plain. At the edge of the shallow valley the remnants of an older road, with countless scenic turns, going over old stone bridges is allowed to decay into nonexistence at its own natural rate. It is a remainder of a not so distant, quieter, curvier past.

Even though my pictures no longer exist, I remember where I took the first photograph, where my jaw dropped. It was from a bridge before reaching the turnoff to Beres. Below lies a vast sweeping view all the way to Almeria and the ocean. Between here and there: rolling waves of dessert badlands and hazy outlines.

Copyright: Panoramio Contributor:  Diego Compan Vazquez  piclink

These views get even better after the turnoff on a smaller road to Beres. The route now contours upwards along the eastern edge of the Sierra Nevada in open dessert country with unobstructed views. First Beres - and onward to the figurative high point, the Alpujarra town Ohanes.

It appears like a pattern of white rectangles, plastered to an otherwise shapeless outrunner of the Sierra Nevada. The first picture I take has a large patch of what I would call yucca cacti (but may well be a different species) in the foreground, and of course the vllage behind it. Going into town and entering a bar, I am put in contact with the owner of a hostal, and so I can enjoy an evening wandering around the white streets. There is an especially interesting view point at sunset at the western exit of this village, where I take countless pictures with what I remember as perfect lighting. From the windows in my room I have more cubist choices of foregrounds, various walls, flat roofs, wires with satellite dishes and a whole host of unidentifiable roof installations. Behind and above is the giant breadloaf of the Sierra Gador. No paved road reaches its top.

 Ohanes   Copyright: Diego Compán Vázquez (Panoramio) piclink

In Ohanes another more direct road form Almeria comes up to meet the profiled route. So you could also make this village a shoulder summit.

The ride continues the next morning. The mirador de Ohanes provides an excuse for drivers to look at the amazing dry vista towards Almeria again. Actually, similar views have accompanied the entire length of the road since before Ohanes. Below, positioned on various strategically important hills, or in dales and crevasses lie parts of more white villages: Almocita, Padues, Canjayar.

Slowly the road continues into a high rolling plateau scenery, the very eastern end of the Sierra Nevada. An attractive church appears between collados. But where is the clientele - or I mean the town where the congregation lives. Historically they came from both sides of the pass. This is the Ermita (Hermitage) de Tices.

I seem to remember the summit being at a slightly different spot than the pass, in the short forested section over the top. However the elevation profile puts them extremely close.


SLIDE SHOW1:  southern approach as far as Ohanes

cLiCk on image , arrows , or thumbnails to advance slideshow


From North. (described downwards). This side goes by rather quickly. A few switchbacks descend to Abla and the high valley of the Rio Nacimiento. The village drapes over a hilltop across from the last part of the descend. I also take some extreme telephoto shots of more mysterious churches further up in the Sierra Nevada. But my favorite vantage point here is from the bridge across the huge dry arroyo, before climbing back up into town. Unfortunately Panoramio has no pictures take from that vantage point. Between Abla and the next town up valley, Finana, a forest of windmills is proof that we are in the 20th century, and these windmills the only thing resembling a forest in sight. The profile continues down the valley for a short distance on the very bikable old road, roughly paralelling the new 4 lane highway.

A Day on a Tour with this point as highes summit:

( < Haza del Lino - Albondon s(u) | Calar Alto s(u) > )
Puerto de Santillana: Ohanes > Puerto de Santillana > Abla > Ocana > Gergal with numerous detours: gps data is on stolen computer (16.4,5)
Notes: previous day was spent climbing from about 6km north of Adra to Ohanes on the profiled route.

SLIDE SHOW2: from Ohanes over the summit to Abla

cLiCk on image , arrows , or thumbnails to advance slideshow