Hiking along the coast

by firmm Team

Text: Brigitte, photos: Philippe Bazire and Dagmar Kossow

On the first windy day, when no excursions could take place, the seven participants of the first intensive whale watching week of 2024 were very interested in an excursion with our new marine biologist José Manuel. Many people who have known firmm for years are probably wondering what has become of Jörn, who had been the foundation's marine biologist since 2003: he moved back to his second home in Uruguay at the beginning of the year. José therefore took over Jörn's job in April.

Katharina and he travelled to Barbate with the intensive week participants. It was a new trip for us too, so we were excited. But how did the idea of going to Barbate arise? The day before, David, one of our mechanics, who comes from this very fishing village, had taken a small boat out to sea to go fishing. He was close to the spot where the almadraba is standing, when suddenly the orcas appeared. He was very impressed to see the largest of all dolphins so close. He normally stands with Katharina at the top of the VISION's fly deck, at a decent distance from these animals.

But it was only in the small fishing boat that he for the first time realised their enormous size, especially when they had dived right underneath him. He felt a great deal of respect as he sat there in his little boat.

The next morning, he enthusiastically told us how awestruck he had been by the experience and how impressive the sight had been.

As we therefore knew where some of the orcas were currently roaming, we decided to look out for them together with the participants of the intensive week.
In Barbate, there is a beautiful hiking trail in the nature park ‘Parque Natural de la Breña y Marismas del Barbate’, called ‘Sendero Del Acantilado’, which leads slightly uphill along the sea to a viewpoint.

That's where we were headed. The cars were parked in a camera-guarded car park in the port of Barbate and off we went. First, we followed a narrow path that runs parallel to the ‘Playa de Hierbabuena’, passing various bushes.
As it had heavily rained a few weeks earlier, everything was wonderfully lush and green. The flowers were blooming in the most beautiful, vibrant colours, with all shades of pink, purple, yellow, and white. Lizards ran across our path and the many different birds broke the otherwise perfect silence with their twittering.

After a while, the path led gently uphill. On one side, the Atlantic Ocean glistened towards us and on the other, the lush green of the pine trees delighted our eyes.
At the highest point, you stand about 100 metres above the sea on the cliffs. Here, next to the Torre de Tajo, an approximately 13-metre-high watchtower from the 16th century, there is a vantage point from which you can enjoy a wonderful view as far as Atlanterra and the Playa de los Alemanes.
The Almadraba lay almost exactly below us. So, this is where they should be, the orcas. Unfortunately, they weren't that afternoon. Because, as José learnt shortly afterwards from a WhatsApp group, they had ‘interacted’ with a sailing boat very close by just 1 ½ hours earlier. Too bad for us and the sailors.

Although we didn't see the animals we had hoped for that afternoon, we nevertheless returned to Tarifa around 4.00 pm, satisfied, and tired. Everyone slept well after the hike and thanks to all the fresh air.

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