A few years ago I did another crazy thing here and signed up for a 5 day survival course in the desert of Almeria. Southern Spain.
Almeria has the largest desert in Europe The Tabernas Desert ( 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 Tabernas. spanning 280 square kilometres (110 square miles) this really is a desert.
I had seen it advertised here online locally by an ex military special forces survival expert from London and thought it would be a challenge.
All i need for the desert.
It was with a group of 6 people to go out into the hills and desert for 4 nights living off the land and learning how to survive in a desert. and the hills near by.
After contacting the guys running the course I booked to go at the beginning of August , bit crazy really as it really gets hot here at that time of year and even hotter in the desert. The cost was 400 euros.
About 1 week before the course i got a phone call to say that the others had pulled out at the last minute but as i had paid they would still take me out on my own if i wanted or re schedule. I thought it a great idea to have a one on one personal guide so opted for that.
I met up with the instructor at a local bar near the mouth of the desert that is just 40 mins from where i was then living in Almeria, we had a coffee in a bar to get to know each other and he told me about the course.
Below is the entrance to the desert and on this day it was over 100 degrees at 10 am.
It was to be in 3 parts. the first being at a local lodge at the foot of the mountains 1 night just outside the desert and then a 2 day walk through the desert and then 1 night in the hills where there was a forest. Then back to the lodge. We would be camping out in tents and making our own shelters as we go looking for food and more important water along the way.
At the lodge he went through the gear that i had brought and a list of things i was told i needed. tent sleeping bag and 1 change of clothes and some basic survival gear if i had it.
We spent the day talking about equipment and just how little we needed to really survive for 4 days in the desert. The instructor showed me different ways to make fire from things we could find on the way and i learned just how hard it really is. Not like on tv where you see a guy rub 2 sticks together and there is fire.
Probably most of day one was learning how to make fire as it is about the most important thing as with out it you cant purify the water that you find.
We also when through different ways to make shelter see my efforts below. And yes i did spend 1 night in that along with the bugs.
Day 2 we headed off for the desert but in a 4 x to practice how to get stuck in sand and how to get out as well as other desert driving skills that were very interesting. We also went through some animal tracking skills even though there are very few animals in this desert.
A walked through the desert with our back packs at about 10am and it was over 100 degrees but so dry we didnt sweat at all. I had been told to leave all my food behind as we didnt need it. we were only going to concentrate of water as that was more important than food. I learned that we could survival for 3 weeks without food but only 3 days without water.
In the desert here the water is salty so we could not drink it even when we found it. we did find old river beds with some really dirty water that was full of flies and bugs but i was told that if we prepared it well we could drink it.
I used my shirt as a strainer and then more cloth to filter as many bugs and dirt as possible then we boiled it for 6 mins then it was safe to drink.
We also placed plastic bags on small busses we found to create condensation that dripped down into a cup that gave us some water. we also went through a few other ways to find and purify water. We found a few bugs and a small lizard that i cooked and eat.
Day 4. just before we arrived back at the lodge we picked fruit and berries from bushes in the hills and eat some small local plants and leaves. by this time i was hungry but not as much as i thought as we had found water and were drinking a lot as we moved.
The last night we returned to the lodge and the guide said he would cook a meal for me or we could go to the local bar at the base of the mountains. I opted for the bar.
It was about 8pm and we had just got back so wanted to catch the bar before it closed so just went as we were.
It was quite a nice place seeing that it was out of they way and it was Saturday night and there were many people there.
We entered and we asked if we could get a table to eat dinner and the waiter looked us up and down and thought that we were homeless people but reluctantly showed us to a table. I think i ordered for 2 people and we eat like pigs but it was lovely.
I returned home the next day and told my then new Spanish wife how it went and she though i was mad to pay that amount of money to sleep out in the desert and to not have any food for a week.
It was a great experience though and I did learn a lot.
Would you fancy 4 nights in the desert?
Read more great stories about living and working in Spain here/