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“Last weekend I headed out to Pico Bacias, a wild rocky 2760 metre peak. I hadn’t done this hike for ages and I’d forgotten how great it is. The views over Vignemale and across to the three thousand metre peaks of the Ordesa National Park are just exceptional.

Joining me were Gustavo and Florencia and we had a brilliant day with blue skies and sunshine throughout. There was still a fair amount of snow higher up which was fun to cross and there’s some great easy scrambling to be found on the summit ridges.

Of course Ruby came along and this was her highest peak yet! She scampered over the rocks and snow with no problem, and I’m sure did at least three times the distance we did running around everywhere.

The hike starts from the Balneario (or Baños) de Panticosa, a beautiful spot in its own right. From there you follow the GR11 east, towards Refugio Bujaruelo and the Ordesa NP.”

Read the whole article and see the stunning images over at Hike Pyrenees here

Looking for walking holidays in the Spanish Pyrenees? Hike pyrenees offer guided and self guided walking holidays in the stunning mountain scenery of Northern Spain.

Based in the heart of the Spanish Pyrenees surrounded by some of the best walking in Spain. Hike Pyrenees specialise in small group guided walking holidays and self guided walking holidays

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Sierra de Cardeña y Montoro

The natural park of Sierra de Cardeña y Montoro. Above image – Dehesa de encinas con viboreras – Photo by Zumaya Ambiente Creativo.

  • Region: Andalucia
  • Province: Granada
  • Declared a Natural Park: 1989
  • Park surface area: 41, 212 hectares

Points of interest

The natural park of Sierra de Cardeña y Montoro is a combination of gentle hills with outcrops of batholithic boulders, forest and meadows. The highest point being 828m at La Colmena.

It is located on the north eastern border of Cordoba and is separated from the natural park of Andújar in Jaen by the deeply ravined river Yeguas. There are cultivated fields along with Cork and Holm oak forests plus dense natural Mediterranean scrub.

This Natural park is part of the Sierra Morena and shares some endangered species in common with other natural parks in this mountain range. The Sierra de Cardeña y Montoro has among its inhabitants the protected Lynx and Wolf.

Hotels in the Sierra de Cardeña y Montoro


On a humid plateau near Cardeña there is a woodland of Pyrenean oak (Quercus pyrenaica) with shrubs of rockrose and lavenders. It is the only woods of this type in Cordoba province. The most dominant oak trees are Holm (Quercus ilex) and Cork (Q. suber) with small areas of Gall oaks (Q. faginea).

The undergrowth consists of Kermes oak (Quercus coccifera), rock roses (Cistus sp), Lentisc (Pistacia lentisc), Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), Wild olive (Olea europaea subsp oleaster) and strawberry trees (Arbutus unedo).

There are also reforestation areas of Stone pine (Pinus pinea) and Maritime pine (Pinus pinaster). The river banks are clothed with Willows, Ash, Oleanders, Black poplar and Alder.


Dense thicket gives cover to much wildlife including Red, Fallow and Roe deer, Wild boar, Badger, Fox, Mongoose, Stone martin, Genet, Wild cat, Weasels, Hare and Rabbit.

Among the raptors are Imperial, Bonelli’s, Booted, Short-toed and Golden eagles, Sparrow hawk, Goshawk, kite, Buzzards, Kestrel, Lesser kestrel and Peregrine. Black and Griffon vultures, Tawny, Long-eared, Little and Eagle owls.

Along the river you will find Kingfisher, Dipper, Nightingale, Warblers, Wrens, Stripe-necked terrapins and Barbel.

There is a hide for bird watching on the reservoir named Embalse de Tejoneras. The birds you may see include Herons, Egrets and Little grebes. Many aquatic birds rest here on this lake on their migratory routes.

Also in the area

Tin, copper and lead used to be mined in the area of Venta del Charco, where there are remains from the Iberian and Roman eras. Roman coins and silver Iberian vessels have been discovered at Azuel.

Remains of Megalithic graves from the Metal Age (3rd century B.C.) have been discovered at Torrubia.

Information/Visitors Centers

Centro de Visitantes Venta Nueva, just outside Cardeña at Km 79 on the A92.

This visitor centre in the Sierra de Cardeña y Montoro has an interesting exhition displaying the typical Mediterranean landscape of this fertile highland zone, with its extensive dehesa pastureland, its Mediterranean scrub and its pine groves.

Visitors can follow the Cardeña-El Cerezo trail, which enters the dehesa and winds past a series of unusual granite blocks known as bolos.

For other sites and places to see try to visit the tourist office in the town ofCardeña. (Number 3, Miguel Gallo street)

Nearby towns

Cardeña, Montoro (Tourist office in Cardeña here in Spanish)

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Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park

Above Image By Heparina1985 – Valley of Ordesa, Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park, Spain

  • Region: Aragón
  • Province: Huesca
  • Declared a Natural Park:1918
  • Park surface area: 15,696 hectares (extended to this in 1982)
  • UNESCO 1997 (Ordesa-Viñamala)
  • Zona de Especial Protección para las Aves.

Points of interest

The Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park is an area of dramatic landscape, overseen by the peak of Monte Perdido at 3,355m, found within the Pyrenean mountain range that forms the border between Spain and France.

Arid limestone mountain peaks contrast with deep ravines and lush green valleys. Glaciers have scoured the mountains and there are four fast flowing rivers that fall into the Spanish side. Their valleys are named Ordesa, Pineta, Añisclo and Escuaín.

The original park, created in 1918, only covered the Ordesa valley with one of the intentions being to preserve the Pyrenean Ibex, a type of wild mountain goat. Sadly the last of this species died in January 2000.

Continue reading Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park


  • Region: Andalucia
  • Province: Cordoba
  • Declared a Natural Park: 1989
  • Park surface area: 60,031 hectares

Points of interest

Oak woodland in Hornachuelos offers protection to endangered species such as Black vulture, Lynx, Black stork and Bonelli’s eagle.

This parkland covers the eastern end of the Sierra Morena, close to Cordoba. The western part of this range is divided into a further two parks as it is dissected by provincial borders, thus forming an extended belt of protection. Sierra Norte de Sevilla is within the province of Sevilla. Sierra de Aracena y Picos de Aroche is in Huelva province. There are no high peaks, rather a more gentle outline crossed by many rivers, with several large reservoirs.

The river Bembézar and its reservoir cut through the centre of the park.


Dominated by oaks with Holm, Gall and Cork oaks and a Mediterranean scrub being a mixture of; Lentisc, Myrtle, Strawberry tree, Kermes oak and Rockroses. There is a gentle transition between mountain coverage and farmland with Dehesas. These are farms which combine open planting of mixed oak trees with pasture land beneath.

The plentiful river valleys are lined with Oleander, Hawthorn, Ash, Willow and Poplars. Dwarf fan palms, wild olive and Carob trees are found in areas with limestone rock formations.

Pond weeds that inhabit the water courses are Potamogeton sp, horned pond weed (Zannichellia) and duck weed (Lemna).


Of special note are Black vultures which have far fewer numbers in Spain than the Griffon vultures. They are of a larger size and nest in trees rather than cliffs. The third vulture in the park is the Egyptian vulture. Eagles recorded here are Golden, Short-toed and Bonelli’s. Other birds of prey include Goshawk, Kestrel and Buzzard.

Scrub covered slopes are home to Red deer, Wild boar and Mongoose. More secretive fauna of the park includes Wolf, Lynx, Otter and Black stork.

Also in the area

  • Farming cattle and Iberian pigs, hunting and cork collection are the area’s main natural resources.
  • There is an abandoned monastery set on a hillside above the Bembézar river, Monasterio de Santa María de los Ángeles, built in 1489 by Fray Juan de la Puebla, 10km northeast of Hornachuelos.

Information/Visitors Centers

La Huerta del Rey (1km out of Hornachuelos on the road north to San Calixto)

In the visitor centre there is a good exhibition detailing the wild life of the area concentrating especially mammals and large birds of prey. There is a recreation of a walk through the woods at night and the exhibition also illustrates traditional customs and activities in the Sierra de Hornachuelos such as hunting, beekeeping and cork production.

Towns in the area

Almodovar del Rio, Córdoba, Hornachuelos, Posadas, Villaviciosa de Córdoba

Wildside Holidays – Spain

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Sierra Norte de Sevilla

Photo – Cerro del Hierro (Author: Arturo Menor)

  • Region: Andalucia
  • Province: Sevilla
  • Declared a Natural Park: 1989
  • Park surface area: 177,484 hectares

Points of interest

A semi-mountainous area, set between two other natural parks, which together form an extended protected range. To the east is Sierra de Aracena y Picos de Aroche in Huelva province. To the west is Sierra de Hornachuelos in Cordoba province.

The Sierra Norte de Sevilla shares with its neiighbouring parks endangered creatures such as the Lynx, Black stork and Imperial eagle. Evergreen oak trees dominate the terrain, interspersed with meadows or dehesas.

This sparsely populated area has two lakes and rolling hills with winding country lanes.

The Huesna river, which holds both common and rainbow trout, has a waterfall that’s been declared a National Heritage site. It is near the source of the river (nacimiento del Río Huesna) close to the village of San Nicolás del Puerto.

Find a hotel in the Sierra Norte de Sevilla

A second National Heritage site is El Cerro del Hierro, a mine in the Roman era and further exploited until the beginning of the twentieth century. It is a combination of open mining, water filled pits and natural Karst landscape with rich mineral content.

Continue reading Sierra Norte de Sevilla

Sierra de Aracena y Picos de Aroche Natural Park

  • Region: Andalucia
  • Province: Huelva
  • Declared a Natural Park: 1989
  • Park surface area: 186,827 hectares

Located in the far west of the Sierra Morena Mountains, in the north of the province of Huelva, the Sierra de Aracena y Picos de Aroche Natural Park is characterised by its extensive forest, high rainfall, mild climate and interesting natural and cultural heritage.

Dense forest covers most of the park due to the humid climate which has an Atlantic influence. This is the western end of the Sierra de Morena mountain range, close to the Portuguese border. Oak and Chestnut are the main tree species with meadow pastures which are grazed by Ganado Bravo, fighting bulls. Cerdo Iberico, a breed of black pig from Iberia, is raised in the pastures and feeds on the acorns giving it a distinct flavour.

The village of Jabugo, one of the 28 within the park, produces world renowned Jamon Iberico products. The museum of ham in Aracena is well worth a visit. (Not for vegetarians though)

There are two reservoirs (Embalse) in the The Sierra de Aracena and Picos de Aroche Natural Park. The Embalse de Zufre and Embalse de Aracena.


Chestnut trees were encouraged here by the Romans and have established dense woodland. Oaks such as Cork (Quercus suber) and Gall (Q. faginea) grow better in the valleys and lower slopes. Poplars, Willows, Alders and Ash occupy river and stream banks. Stone pine (Pinus pinea) and Black pine (Pinus pinaster) have been planted as well as Eucalyptus. Scrub consists of Kermes oak (Quercus coccifera), Smilax (Smilex aspera), Pistacia terebinthus (Turpentine tree). Few Pyrenean oaks exist as they have been used for firewood over the last few decades.


Some of the many bird species are Black stork, White stork, Golden, Spanish imperial, Booted eagles, Griffon, Egyptian, Black vultures, Lesser kestrel, Goshawk, Osprey, Black-winged, Black, Red kites, Marsh, Hen, Montagu’s harriers, Crane, Little bustard, Great spotted cuckoo, Red-necked nightjar.

Some colourful characters are Hoopoes, Azure-winged magpies, Bee-eaters, Golden orioles, Southern grey and Woodchat shrikes
Mammals include Wild boar, Fox, Badgers, Genet, Wild cat, Mongoose, Stone martin, Polecat, Weasel and introduced Red deer and Mouflon.

Also in the area

Grutas de las Maravillas (Website in Spanish here) is a limestone wonder with tremendous stalactites and stalagmites and more than 2km of caverns including 6 lakes. The entrance for visitors is in the town of Aracena which is also known for its 13thC Templar church and ruined castle.

The most ancient European copper mines are located south of the village of Riotinto. They were worked since Phoenician times and presently there is a fascinating museum and narrow gauge tourist train visiting the open cast mines. (Website here in Spanish)

Find a hotel in the area

Molino Río Alájar is located in the Sierra de Aracena y Picos de Aroche Nature Reserve. It is a collection of 6 charming cottages with a shared pool and tennis courts.

The property offers a wide range of activities, including flamenco guitar lessons, Spanish lessons and tennis coaching. It also organises hiking and bird watching walks in the nature reserve.

Click here to find out more about Molino Rio Alajar.

Information/Visitors Centers

“Cabildo Viejo”, Plaza Alta, Aracena.

The Cabildo Viejo visitor centre is in the centre of Aracena and occupies a historic building erected in the 17th century. Its name stems from the fact that the building was also once the seat of Aracena’s first town council. The house’s size and beauty give us some idea of the historic importance of Aracena in this area. The interpretative exhibition inside the centre focuses largely on the heritage, traditional crafts and gastronomy of the Nature Park.

Aracena Tourist Office

The tourist office in Aracena has a very helpfull set of staff and speak English. They can point you in the right direction whether you are looking for tickets for the cave, a tour of the ham museum or other attractions in the area. Just follow the signs in the town for “Oficina de Turismo

Towns in the area

Alajar, Almonaster La Real, Aracena, Aroche, Arroyomolinos de Leon, Cala, Cañaveral de Leon, Castaño del Robledo, Corteconcepcion, Cortegana, Cortelazor, Cumbres de Enmedio, Cumbres de San Bartolome, Cumbres Mayores, Encinasola, Fuenteheridos, Galaroza, Higuera de La Sierra, Hinojales, Jabugo, Linares de La Sierra, Marines (los), Nava (la), Puerto-moral, Santa Ana La Real, Santa Olalla del Cala, Valdelarco, Zufre

Wildside Holidays – Spain

The top wildlife, activity and walking holiday companies in Spain. Small family companies living and working in Spain. Local guides are the best!

The top wildlife, activity and walking holiday companies in Spain. Small family companies living and working in Spain. Local guides are the best!