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In Almería

Take a Peek Inside Pulpí’s Giant Geode

Location of La Geoda de Pulpí

Address: Poligono S-AG2A, 33, 04640 Pulpí, Almería

In december 1999, members from Madrid’s Mineralogist Group discovered Pulpí’s Geode in Mina Rica, a colossal mineral geode measuring 8 metres length times 2 metres height fully covered in huge gypsum crystals. It’s upholstered with gypsum crystals, some of them measuring 2 metres long. Its transparency and spotlessness make it a wonder of nature. Given its dimensions as well its crytals size, transparency and perfection, this is a unique phenomenon worldwide (Calaforra & García-Guinea, 2000).

The origin of this outlandish geode can be explained in two stages: the gap formation and the subsequent mineral deposit on the inside. The gap was produced by dolomite karstifications that make up the Sierra del Aguilón, accompanied hidro-termal volcanic shots. The mineral deposit could follow a mixed model (Karstic and hidro-termal).


Geologists describe a geode as a spherical or egg-shaped rock with a sparkly hidden treasure inside: a hollow cavity lined with crystal formations. They’re not particularly rare; geodes are found all over the world, especially in deserts. The kind of crystals they contain depends on factors like location, temperature and the type of rock the geode is formed from.

They can be as small as a centimetre or so long. What makes the Pulpí geode so special is its spectacular size. At approximately eight metres long, two metres wide and two metres high, and covered with translucent gypsum crystals up to nearly two metres in length it is widely regarded as the world’s largest accessible geode.

Members of the Madrid Mineralogist Group discovered the geode in 1999 during an expedition to the abandoned Mina Rica mine in Pulpí’s Aguilón mountains. Some 60 metres down they spotted gypsum crystals on the wall of a hole. Intrigued, they made the hole big enough to get through and found they were looking at an incredible geological phenomenon.

The geode was formed in two phases. First, there was the formation of the hole due to the karstification of the rocks which make up the Sierra del Aguilón, then the mineral deposits which became the crystals. The crystals are 165,000 years old. See it for yourself if you’re interested in learning about a key chapter of Costa de Almería history or looking for something different to do, the 90-minute guided tour of the Mina Rica and the chance to see the giant geode for yourself are definitely worth it.

Specialised guides take visitors through the main galleries and spectacular chambers created by miners to exploit the mineral riches inside the mountain. They talk about the mine geology, show you traces of unusual minerals and explain how different types of ore – lead, iron and silver – were extracted and transported to the coast from the mid-19th century until the mine closed in the 1960s. A lot of thought has gone into giving visitors an insight into what life down in the mine was like. You see details like tools the miners used, what they wore and how they ate and drank during their long hours toiling under the earth.


The guides know their stuff and are happy to answer questions. The tour highlight comes at the end when you get to look inside the jewel in the mine’s crown: the huge geode. It’s located between the third and fourth levels, and to reach it you walk down a 15-metre spiral staircase or go down in a lift. You can’t go inside the geode because the crystals are easily damaged, but take your turn to stick your upper body through the aperture and marvel at this amazing creation of Mother Nature.

Visits must be booked in advance, which you can do easily by going to the official Pulpí geode website. The ticket includes entry to the castle in San Juan de los Terreros, where you can experience a virtual tour of Mina Rica and the geode. You’re advised to get to Mina Rica 30 minutes before your visit begins to give you time to pick up the sticker which identifies you as booked on a tour.

If you have time to spare you can take in the views of the surrounding area or check out the gift shop. Items for sale include minerals extracted from Mina Rica, jewellery and various gifts. Proceeds go towards preserving the mine and the geode and the costs of keeping it open to the public. Tours are in groups of up to 12 and are in Spanish, but it’s possible to book group visits of up to 15 with an English-speaking guide. Alternatively, there are audio guides in English, French, German and Flemish available at the information office.

There’s a fair bit of walking and going up and down steps between the different levels of the mine; 80 in fact without including the staircase to the geode. You should wear comfortable clothes and appropriate footwear. If you have certain medical conditions or mobility issues you should check whether they prevent from you being allowed to do the tour. Earlier this year the Junta de Andalucía awarded Mina Rica and the geode “Natural Monument” status in recognition of their environmental and geological value and uniqueness and to guarantee their preservation.

The opportunity to visit them is a privilege and it’s essential to respect the regulations designed to protect them and ensure visitors’ safety. You must wear the helmet given to you at the mine entrance throughout the tour. The same goes for face masks. You’re not allowed to take bags into the mine, touch the minerals, crystals or structures inside or take your own photos. The guides take pics of each person in their group at the main points of interest, including the giant geode, and for just one euro they’ll email you memorable images of yourself in this remarkable underground world.


For more information and to book tickets 950 962 727

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In Almería

A Day in Oasys Mini Hollywood

Cue the queue! The park ran a special offer and there were lines of people right back to the car park at the roadside entrance, and this goes without saying, but I’m going to anyway – it’s hot, super-hot. With up to two children free with one paying adult it was a decent deal, no wonder it was so busy and during summer holidays too, phew!

It would be worth recommending at this stage to take adequate water and remember your hat and sun lotion (you’d be surprised how often these essentials get forgotten around here… my friend does it all the time.) So, there’s a little heads up for free so that you aren’t stuck in a long, hot queue with thirsty, hot kids. You’re welcome. Another top tip would be to meet friends there and arrive late yourselves so that when you do get there you can meet them near the front of the queue, apparently.

if you misbehave the sheriff will catch you and drag you to jail

With timetabled shows throughout the day there’s always something to watch, a parrot show, a cowboy shootout re-enactment and a can-can show. Young kids will watch the re-enactment filled with suspense and questioning whether the men are fighting for real or just pretending! The show itself is entertaining and done really well, the whole movie set is incredibly realistic and like being transported back in time. You find yourself wandering into the saloon, checking out the outfits, the décor and wondering if the cowboys then knew how cool they were! You used to be able to have old style western themed photos taken but I believe this has temporarily stopped in line with current covid safety measures. The can-can show is also mesmerising and not just the skirts are lifted but the spirits in the place are too with the jolly music and colourful performance!

The park itself is huge and though there’s a mini train that takes you around the top of the park, if you have little legs in tow it may be a little taxing – consider bringing a pushchair for any 3 and unders! There are several steps to access different parts of the park too since it’s spread over different levels, adapting to the natural surroundings and to accommodate the different animal enclosures etc. There’s a whole variety of animals to see and in the environment with the backdrop it’s a spectacular sight to behold. The whole place has been well thought out and there’s certainly plenty there to fill a day.


not just skirts are lifted here

You can take your own picnic or eat in there; you have the option to add on the buffet to your ticket price at the entrance. The buffet is in a large dining hall and is self-serve, you can typically expect offerings such as, paella, pasta, pizza, meat, vegetables, hot dogs etc with an impressive array of desserts for afters! This option works equally well if your children are fussy or if they’re good eaters, since they can pick and choose what they want and how much of it too. What kids don’t like slushies? Once you’ve pounded the pavement for a long time and you’re all hot and bothered, reaching the slushy machine is a welcome stop! With reasonably priced iced drinks in containers with a lid and straw with many flavours on offer you can’t really go wrong!

check quickly to see if you’re not Almería’s most wanted

Once you’ve seen the shows, the animals, walked round the park, used the pools and had lunch it might just be time to head home! Not forgetting the gift shop, disclaimer if your children like toy weapons do not enter. It’s a little kids paradise when it comes to toy cap guns, holsters, sling shots, etc. The shop is also home to some beautiful dream catchers, gifts, decorative items and Indian headdresses. Top tip; They also have hand held fans here and sun lotion, so don’t leave the gift shop until the end if you do get caught short!

To summarise, we love Mini Hollywood and it’s a great day out with the kids that has a little of everything. It can seem a little on the expensive side but it’s a major area attraction and so it’s to be expected, not to mention the upkeep of the place can’t be cheap and they aren’t open all year around. If you haven’t been there before, we encourage you to take a trip to Tabernas and see what all the fuss is about for yourself.

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In Almería

Pets in Spain

Whether you’re adopting or buying pets in Spain or bringing them with you, here’s everything about pet rules, services, insurance, and healthcare.

Like many countries, Spain is a nation of pet lovers, which reflects in the cultural norms and regulations. Many families, including international households, keep cats, dogs, fish, birds, or other domesticated animals for companions. Still, there are many things to consider when becoming a pet owner or when relocating to the country with your pet.

Pets are popular in Spain, although there are various rules and regulations concerning pet ownership. These rules often differ across the autonomous communities.


According to the Spanish Network for the Identification of Pets (Red Española de Indetificación de animales de compañia, REIAC), there are around 13 million registered pets in Spain. Figures from 2019 show that 26% of households own dogs and 11% own cats. However, the total number of pets in Spain, including smaller creatures not registered, is closer to 20 million, according to a national census carried out by the veterinary association, AMVAC (Asociación Madrileña de Veterinarios de Animales de Compañia) in 2017 (in Spanish). This works out at an average of over one pet per Spanish household.

According to the census, the most popular pets in Spain were:

  • Birds (5.3 million)
  • Dogs (5.2m)
  • Fish (4m)
  • Cats (2.3m)

There were also over two million other pets, including ferrets, rabbits, reptiles, and hamsters.

Spain has rules prohibiting certain animals as pets, although these vary across the communities. For example, the Catalogue of Invasive Alien Species lists creatures including bullfrogs, Galapagos turtles, Argentine parrots, raccoons, some breeds of hedgehog, and porcupines. Owning any of these as a pet can lead to a fine of up to €2 million.

Historically, Spain has lagged behind many other European countries in terms of animal welfare. It scores a C on the 2020 World Animal Protection Index, including a D on protecting domesticated animals. However, the government recently created a Directorate-General for Animal Protection and has set about improving standards.


Spain now ranks 8th on the 2022 Dog-Friendly Country Index.

Pet laws in Spain

Many pet laws in Spain vary across the independent states, so check locally to avoid getting a fine or worse. Additionally, new national animal welfare laws came into effect in 2022. Pets are now considered sentient beings and cannot be seized, abandoned, mistreated, or removed from the owner without good reason. New laws also cover shared ownership if couples divorce or separate.

There are plans for further changes later this year, including:

  • Bans on putting animals down unless strictly necessary
  • No animals are used in circuses
  • Pet stores are no longer allowed to sell pets
  • Harsher penalties for animal abuse
  • Introducing a new national pet ID scheme to help monitor pet ownership

Of course, you must have suitable accommodation for pets as you cannot leave them on balconies or outside in exposed areas. Dogs must be kept on a lead in public places and are not allowed on most Spanish beaches.

Dangerous animals

Furthermore, pets in Spain, such as dogs and cats, must be registered, microchipped, vaccinated against rabies, and have a health card. You must also have a special license for breeds of dogs considered dangerous, and place them on the dangerous animals’ register (Registro de Animales Potencialmente Peligrosos). They need to wear a leash and muzzle in public. This applies to dogs, such as:

  • Pitbull terriers
  • Staffordshire bull terriers
  • Rottweilers
  • Fila Brasileiros
  • Akita-Inus

However, the proposed law changes include no longer categorizing any breed of dog as a dangerous animal.

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Driving Licence Exchange

The British ambassador issued a statement after the government announced that from 16 March holders of UK licences resident in Spain can drive again for six months while they exchange them for equivalent Spanish ones.

Spanish government ministers have approved the agreement that will allow UK driving licences held by residents in Spain to be exchanged for Spanish ones and vice versa from Thursday 16 March.

The deal approved at this Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting (14 March) also includes the exchange of information about traffic offences affecting road safety.

The approval means that holders of a valid driving licence issued by either of the two countries can apply to exchange it for an equivalent document issued by their country of residence, without the need to take practical or theory driving test.

With this agreement, those British citizens resident in Spain who did not exchange their driving licence before the deadline in May last year will be able to do so from Thursday 16 March.


A six-month period has been established in which British citizens can drive in Spain with their original licences until these are exchanged.

In a video posted on the Brits in Spain Facebook page on Tuesday evening, the British Ambassador to Spain, Hugh Elliott, encouraged UK licence holders to exchange their documents for Spanish ones “as soon as possible”.

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