Sierra Nevada mountain range rises high above the famous Costa del Sol beach region in southern Spain. A number of peaks reach over 3000 meters/10 000 feet in altitude. Whereas it is almost always sunny down at the Mediterranean coast, up on the peaks of Sierra Nevada there is always some snow.
For travelers who are on a road trip in southern Spain’s Andalucia province, exploring high mountains is one of the most exciting things to do. Road number A395 leads from the city of Granada to the Pradollano ski center in Sierra Nevada. The public road ends at the altitude of 2500 meters/8200 feet. The road continues even higher, but it is allowed for service vehicles only.
In September, we drove the road to the high mountains of Sierra Nevada. Right away as the serious ascent started, we noticed a mysterious thing. Plenty of news cars with German and French license plates were driving down and others that were going up easily overtook us.
Since the summer vacation season was over, it was unlikely that all French and German tourists in Andalucia had suddenly decided to flock to the mountain. The road trip took even more mysterious turn when we spotted a car that was painted with grey, black and beige colors. After we saw more of these camouflaged cars and more new German and French cars with respective plates, it was obvious that something was going on.
Two new cars were parked on the side of the road with men attaching cables to the engine. A truck with a ramp at the back that allowed vehicles to driven in and out was parked in front of a small hotel half way up the mountain.
We took our time, absorbing the scenery on the way up. At the end of the road, a small car park was almost full of compact cars, camper vans and motorhomes. A couple of cafes and grill kiosks served food and drink to drivers and hikers.
One of the compact cars at the car park was completely covered with a fabric.
We ordered our hamburger lunch at a grill kiosk, and used the opportunity to ask the chef why so many German and French cars were traveling up and down the mountain road.
Test drive was the answer. German and French auto manufacturers were testing their new vehicles. Some of the cars were unannounced models that the manufacturers camouflaged with paint. It worked. It was impossible to tell which brand or model a camouflaged car was.
European car makers had chosen this place for their test drives because zero altitude at the sea level and high altitude (2500 meters / 8200 feet) were reasonably near one another.
An added bonus in this place were the views to the peaks and to Granada. Test drivers didn’t have time to hike further up, but everyone else used the opportunity to hike in cool mountain air.