Walking in Andalucia is all about finding the hidden trails and Barranco de la Luna in the Lecrin Valley is a priceless example.
Barranco de la Luna is a location I discovered on Wikiloc whilst looking for canyon type walks. The wikiloc entry had some decent photographs attached so it was possible to determine that the site would be worth visiting. The entry also mentioned wading through knee high water at various points so I dressed accordingly. And was very grateful for it when I slipped climbing down a small waterfall and found myself rather suddenly sitting waist deep in the river!
I had bought a pair of Salomon TA 4 shoes for this type of expedition and they really earned their keep on this trip. The shoes are like a training shoe but the top is mesh and rubber so getting your feet wet is no problem at all and it floods out of the shoe just as easily as it gets in so no chafing, squelching or other unpleasantness.
There was enough detail on Wikiloc to know what to expect so I downloaded the trail map onto my Garmin and set off.
Naturally, the first attempt ended in ignominy. Despite downloading the trail from Wikiloc to my Garmin, as soon as you get down in the depths of the gorge you lose GPS, so with night closing in I decided to come back in the morning.
Armed with precise instructions, the next morning proved altogether more fruitful. I still managed to lose the trail on the return journey; you’d think that following a small river would be a no brainer, but I guess you had to be there. Looking for footprints proved to be a lifesaver at more than one point!
Following the trail from the cemetery outside Saleres, I found the track down to the barranco very quickly. Once at the bottom of the barranco, there is a pleasant stroll through olive groves which are still actively cultivated. Then I climbed down into the river bed which at this point is semi dry.
It might be the drought that is affecting the whole of Europe this summer, but the river only appears in earnest once you’ve navigated a semi-dry river bed for a few hundred metres.
Although Barranco de la Luna is deep, the first part of the walk is well signposted and simple to navigate.
It took me about twenty minutes, pausing to take a few photographs to get to the bottom and once I reached a notice saying rather ominously “No more Signs” and “Be Prepared to get Wet”, I spent a further two hours exploring the canyon and yes, getting lost again.
As I got further into the canyon the water gets deeper, the walls closer together and the climbs steeper. I managed with a tripod and a full backpack of photography gear, so its not impossible by any means but its certainly not an easy stroll.
Looking back, it seems I missed an exit which would have saved me the trouble of some of the more extreme locations, but then I wouldn’t have got the photographs if I’d taken the easy option.
Take a tripod. The dynamic range at Barranco de la Luna is huge. You’re deep in the canyon, it’s quite dark and the August sun is extremely bright. You’ll need to make several exposures to get it all in one frame. The most bracketed shots I took was seven.
The way I approach dynamic ranges beyond the capability of the camera’s sensor is to set the first shot to the brightest it can be without clipping the highlights. This captures the sky and anything (on this trip) high up in the frame, while leaving the shadows pure black. Then I brighten the next shot and repeat, stop at a time until I have no more clipped shadows. This gives me everything I need to process the picture. The traditional HDR method of starting with a ‘normal’ exposure and then exposing extra frames darker and lighter than normal seems tremendously wasteful to me.
I work with the histogram in camera to know whether I’ve clipped shadows or highlights, reducing the whole thing to a process that is repeatable, quick and reliable.
Using Luminosity masking to process the collection of images works better than HDR in that I have total control over which part of each frame appears in the final image.
Canon 5D mk IV
Canon EOS 17-40mm L lens
Giottos Vitruvium VGR 8255 Travel Tripod
Acratech GXP Ballhead
All the pictures in this article are processed in Adobe Lightroom.
Barranco de La Luna
I definitely recommend Barranco de la Luna. The best way to get there is to park at the cemetery on the edge of Saleres and walk uphill to the track going off to the right. From there it is well signposted until you get to the bottom and then follow your nose or the sound of water.
It’s a popular trail so there are plenty of footprints if you go wrong. The first time I went, was early evening and there were a lot of people around. The second time around 7:30am I was the only person in the canyon for at least an hour. Slightly scarier but much better for photography.
My practical takeaway on walking in Andalucia (and exploring in general) is, pay attention to your surroundings every time there’s an option in the path!
If you’re interested in the walks of the Lecrin Valley, then check out Ruta Camino de los Pinos in Conchar.
This will be one of the routes I’m going to feature on my workshops next year. Keep an eye out for further announcements – in fact why not sign up to the mailing list so you can get early notification as the week long schedule comes together?
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