Hiking into the Volcano - The Caldera de Majada Redonda

The Caldera de Majada Redonda is one of the most famous extinct volcanoes in the Cabo de Gata Natural Park. We had hiked to to the rim of the enormous crater left behind by this now collapsed and dormant giant when we had visited Cerro Penones just before Christmas.  After yesterday restocking supplies once again at the market at El Cabo de Gata and some games of paddle tennis with fellow campers, today, we wanted to see the landscape from another perspective and take the Sendero (hiking path) Caldera de Majada Redonda right into the former heart of the mountain.


Hiking into the Caldera de Majada Redonda
Hiking into the Caldera
The volcanoes of Cabo de Gata were formed between 15-16 million years ago as the visible part of a vast underground magma area stretching under the Alboran Sea (the section of the Mediterranean between the Iberian peninsula and northern Africa). Formed by the collapse of a large and emptied magma chamber beneath the volcano itself, the Caldera is the huge depression left behind as the land around the summit of the volcano subsided. The Caldera de Majada Redonda itself is a bowl of rock around 200m deep and 1000m across with one side collapsed on the western edge where the molten lava escaped from the crater. It was this opening that we would be using to enter the caldera.

Opuntia Cactus - "Prickly Pear"
Hiking directly from Camping Los Escullos on another beautiful day with just a gentle breeze, we walked just a couple of hundred metres west along the AL-4200 before turning right to follow the narrow road signposted to the Sendero Caldera de Majada Redonda 1km away. Climbing gently with an excellent view of the Mediterranean sea and the peaks of El Frailes behind us, we soon reached the collection of white houses that make up the village of Presillas Bajas where hundreds of Opuntia Cactus surrounded us. Otherwise known as the Prickly Pear (or barbed fig), the remaining round red/orange fruits looked appetising in the bright sun and we wondered if these were wild or cultivated areas? 
Sendero to the Caldera from Presillas Bajas
Sendero - Caldera from Presillas Bajas

Joining the Sendero we hiked steadily north for a couple of kilometres on a generally flat, wide and gravelly trail before veering east and ascending very gently into the caldera. Other smaller trails weaved on and off the main one, but we chose to follow the easier flattened track surrounded by scrub including wild thyme, agave and pitas and what appeared to be the remains of irrigation channels, terraces and dry stone walls where people had endeavoured to farm cereal and fruit crops in this arid desert like landscape. In high summer, we realised, this must be a very harsh and forbidding environment with the hot sun baking the earth dry day after day. Today in early January, however, it was just right for short sleeves and a walk in the afternoon sun. 


Arriving at the crater rim
Arriving in the caldera itself was a strange sensation. Initially weaving our way through several tall mounds of earth we steadily climbed into the heart of the depression. The red ochre dusty walls rose up almost all around us, except where the exiting lava had left the deep gash that we had entered from, through which we could see more rolling hills away to the west. Slowly turning around to stare up at the crater rim we were struck by the stark contrast between the quiet and calm of the caldera today with the extreme violence and chaos that formed it all those millennia ago.

Looking up we could see the radar station we had hiked to before Christmas at the top of Cerro Penones and wondered how spectacular the view would be with such a clear sky as today. As we sat in the sunshine with just the sound of birds singing, the smell of wild thyme in the air and the feeling of a gentle breeze on our faces we felt very at ease and calm. Having passed very few other walkers en route and with no sounds of voices or sight of others it felt very special to be alone in this tranquil bowl of rock and earth.

After around half an hour of just sitting to admire the natural beauty of the caldera we decided it was time to head back. Other onward trail options, such as scrambling up to the crater rim or picking up the trail north to Los Albaricoques could wait for another day. Walking quietly back through the agaves and pitas, we once again felt very lucky to have so much incredible natural beauty right on our doorstep of our chosen campsite in the Cabo de Gata Natural Park.  In total we had hiked around 10km over gently sloping tracks, but the reward had been an oasis of stillness in this already isolated and unspoiled landscape. Definitely an easy hike we'd like to repeat during our stay with an extension to one of the other trails nearby as well.

Related Posts:
10 Reasons to Visit the Cabo de Gata -Nijar Natural Park - Andalucia, Spain
12 Places to Visit and Things To Do in Cabo de Gata Natural Park
10 Hiking and Walking Routes in the Cabo de Gata - Nijar Natural Park



View around the crater rim - Caldera de Majada Redonda
View around the crater rim - Caldera de Majada Redonda

Looking up at Cerro Penones from the Caldera
Looking up at Cerro Penones from the Caldera

Enjoying the tranquility - centre of the Caldera looking west to the collapsed lava exit

View from the Caldera up to Cerro Penones
View from the Caldera up to Cerro Penones

Cactus, pitas and agaves en route to the Caldera de Majada Redonda
Cactus, pitas and agaves en route to the Caldera de Majada Redonda 

Looking back towards the peaks of El Frailes
Looking back towards the peaks of El Frailes






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Adventures In Life, Love, Health, Travel... & Puppies!: Hiking into the Volcano - The Caldera de Majada Redonda
Hiking into the Volcano - The Caldera de Majada Redonda
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