Reserva Natural Lagunas de Villafáfila

  • Region: Castille Y leon
  • Province: Zamora
  • 1972 – Controlled hunting area (2,854 hectares).
  • 1986 – National Game Reserve (32,549 hectares).
  • 1996 – Regional hunting reserve (32,549 hectares).
  • 2006 – Nature Reserve (32,541 hectares).
  • 1987 – ZEPA (Special Protection Area for Birds) – 32,549 hectares.
  • 1989 – RAMSAR Wetland (Protection and international importance of the lagoon complex) – 2,854 hectares.
  • 1992 – SCI (Place of Community Interest) – 4,219 hectares

Villages in the area of Reserva Natural Lagunas de Villafáfila

Cañizo, Cerecinos de Campos, Manganeses de la Lampreana, Revellinos, San Agustín del Pozo, San Martín de Valderaduey, Tapioles, Villafáfila (Includes the district of Otero de Sariegos, which is entirely inside the Natural Reserve), Villalba de la Lampreana, Villárdiga and Villarrín de Campos.

Hotels in the area of the Reserva Natural Lagunas de Villafáfila

Points of interest

Depending on the season of the year, different birds can be observed But many people visit this area just for views of the Great bustard (Otis otis)


  • September is a month in which you can see large concentrations of mallard and an abundance of grey herons from the breeding colonies.
  • October is the time of passage for migratory birds such as common sandpipers and other waders.
  • November is the month with the highest concentration of cranes in the reserve and the arrival of the first common geese of the season also important flocks of common sandpipers.


  • In December, the common goose and the frieze duck abound, being in general a good month to observe rare ducks such as the white-faced goose and the grey-faced geese.
  • In January there are the highest concentrations of goose and European wigeon
  • In February the geese begin their journey to the Nordic countries. In their place the stork start to arrive from their southern wintering grounds.


  • March is the beginning of the arrival of the lesser kestrels, spooonbil and it is the time of spring passage for a large number of waders such as sandpipers and plovers etc. This is also the beginning of the mating season for bustards.
  • In April the bustard is still in breeding season and large concentrations of male combatants emerge in their full breeding plumage.
  • May is the breeding season of the lesser kestrels, especially the colony at the church of Otero de Sariegos. Storks and avocets are also in full breeding mode.


  • June is the month of the quail song in the Reserve, cattle egrets abound and the first flights of young storks.
  • The heat of July makes the aquatic fauna concentrate in the few remaining wetlands. This month also gives best observations of Montagu’s harrier. The first pre-migratory concentrations of stork are beginning to appear as well.
  • In August, the post-nuptial passage of sandpipers and other waders begins.

Information/Visitors Centers

Casa del Parque de las Lagunas de Villafáfila ‘El Palomar’

Ctra. Villalpando, Km. 1,5. 49136. Villafáfila. Zamora

  • On the N-630 road from Zamora towards Benavente. After the town of Granja de Moreruela, take a detour to the right onto the ZA-701 road, towards La Estación de la Tabla.
  • On the N-VI highway from Tordesillas towards Benavente leave the highway at Villalpando and at the exit of this town take a detour to the left towards Tapioles and Villafáfila.

This is an excellent information centre for the Lagunas de Villafáfila. There are audiovisual exhibitions, walkways, observation points etc and the place is staffed by very knowledgable guides. Well worth a visit!

Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holidays
10:30 to 14:00 and 16:00 to 19:00

Entrance price is 2 euros for adults and 1.50 for children (Children under free)

Website (only in Spanish)

On this page you will find the bird species list for the Reserva Natural Lagunas de Villafáfila.

The Grazalema Guide

The best way to see all our web projects in one place is over at the Grazalema Guide.

The Grazalema Guide – Tourist Information Portal for the Sierra de Grazalema, Wildside Holidays, The town of Ronda and the Caminito del Rey.

Santoña Victoria y Joyel Natural Park

  • Region: Cantabria.
  • Province: Cantabria.
  • Declared a Natural Park:
  • Park surface area: 6,500 hectares.
  • Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance.
  • ZEPA (Special Area for Bird Protection).

Points of interest

The Santoña Victoria y Joyel Natural Park is an estuary in Cantabria, protected as a natural park. It is one of the wetlands of most ecological value in the north of Spain. It is used as a winter refuge and migratory passage by many species of birds.

The marshes are formed by the Asón River and the park occupies over 6,500 hectares distributed among the municipalities of Argoños, Bárcena de Cicero, Colindres, Escalante, Laredo, Limpias, Noja, Santoña and Voto.

The Asón estuary is also an important area for commercial fish breeding with sea ​​bass, red mullet, sea bream, sole and eel and atlantic salmon. This is also an important area for shellfish and the development of the canning industry for anchovies and sardines. Fish and fishing and defines the economic activity of this area.

Hotels in the area of the Marismas de Santoña, Victoria y Joyel Natural Park

Legal action against Spain from the EU about Santoña Victoria y Joyel Natural Park

In 1987 the Spanish Society of Ornithology (now SEO / BirdLife) and ARCA (the Association for the Defense of Natural Resources of Cantabria) presented a complaint to the Commission of the European Union citing the terrible situation and the danger suffered by the Santoña marshes such as desiccation of areas of the marsh, construction of the Santoña-Argoños section of the Ca-141 road, ilegal rubbish dumping and residual contaminated water from towns and villages in the area. All this of course a huge risk to both the annual stay of thousands of migratory birds and residential wildlife.

Spain declared the Marismas de Santoña, Victoria y Joyel as a Natural Park in 1992. However, in 1993, the European Court condemned Spain for breach of its obligations to protect wildlife habitats under the EEC Treaty. This was the first ever environmental condemnation of the European court against Spain.

Spains basic defence was (and I quote) ” The Spanish Government takes the view that the ecological requirements laid down in that provision must be subordinate to other interests, such as social and economic interests, or must at the very least be balanced against them. ” The court rejected this argument completely.

The court ruling

Decision on costs: Under Article 69(2) of the Rules of Procedure, the unsuccessful party is to be ordered to pay the costs. Since the Kingdom of Spain has failed in all essential respects, it must be ordered to pay the costs.

On those grounds,THE COURT

Declares that, by not classifying the Santoña marshes as a special protection area and by not taking appropriate steps to avoid pollution or deterioration of habitats in that area, contrary to the provisions of Article 4 of Council Directive 79/409/EEC of 2 April 1979 on the conservation of wild birds, the Kingdom of Spain has failed to fulfil its obligations under the EEC Treaty;

Orders the Kingdom of Spain to pay the costs.

I have looked but can’t find how much Spain had to pay or evn if they did? Anyone?

You can read the entire very interesting legal document here. (actually it is very readable and not too full of confusing legal quotes.)


The birdlife in the area is undoubtedly the park’s greatest wealth. More than 130 different species can be observed and this is an important point for migrating or wintering grounds for many species of waterfowl. Waders such as Dunlin, Whimbrel, Grey plover, Bar-tailed godwit and gulls. Also European wigeon, Curlew, Common egrets, oystercatcher, sandpiper, Godwit, Redshank, Black – headed gulls and Red necked grebe. .

It is also an important migratory resting place for the common spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia) which migrates from its breeding colonies in Holland flying over the coasts of France in order to reach the Santoña Marshes where they rest for a few days before continuing their journey to their wintering grounds in Africa. SEO/Birdlife estimates that a third of the European population of this species passes through Santoña every year

Two other species that are very rare wintering in the Iberian Peninsula, and that are frequent visitors to the Santoña marshes, are the Eider duck (Somateria mollissima), a large sea duck, and the Snow bunting (Plectrophenax nivalis) that inhabits the mountains of northern Europe.

The most abundant mammals are found in the woodlands of holm oaks and meadows. More than thirty species have been detected such as wildcat, boar, roe deer, red deer, otter, fox, badger, weasel, rabbit etc

Information/Visitors Centers

The Visitor Center of the Santoña, Victoria and Joyel Marshes Natural Park, is located on the ground floor of the “Mirador de las Marismas” a building located in the port of Santoña . The unique glass façade allows you to observe, from the inside, a wide panoramic view of the marsh landscape.

Inside there is also and excellent exhibition showing history, culture, wildlife etc of the area.

Opening hours

  • January to March from Wednesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and weekends and holidays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • April to June: Wednesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and weekends and holidays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • July and August: Monday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • September: Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • October: Wednesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • November and December: Wednesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and weekends and holidays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Closed on 01/01, 06/01, 01/11, 24/12 and 31/12

Noja Bird Mill. Santoña, Victoria and Joyel Marshes Natural Park

Address: Calle Helgueras, 39180 Noja

The Molino de las Aves de Noja is located in the old tidal mill of the Marisma Victoria inside the Natural Park of the Marismas de Santoña, Victoria and Joyel. Apart from its exceptional location for birdwatching on the marismas there are also cameras located in nest boxes and a feeder in order to observe the daily behavior birds and children are actively encouraged to get involved in observing wildlife.

There are also self-guided ornithological itineraries taking you through the four natural environments of Noja : the dunes, the marsh, the mountain and the countryside.

Open from June 21 to September 1
From 10.00 to 14.00 and from 15.00 to 20.00 every day of the week.

Look out for signs for these top places for birdwatching.

  • Puerto pesquero, marisma de Bengoa and La Arenilla in Santoña.
  • Molino de Victoria in Noja
  • Paseo del Ribero Ancillo, Argoños Paseo marítimo y parque de Tinaco en Colindres.
  • El Playón de Cicero in Bárcena de Cicero.
  • Convento de Montehano Monte de Montehano in Escalante.

The official website for the Marismas de Santoña, Victoria y Joyel Natural Park (In Spanish but has a google translate plugin at the top right of the homepage.)

The Grazalema Guide

The best way to see all our web projects in one place is over at the Grazalema Guide.

The Grazalema Guide – Tourist Information Portal for the Sierra de Grazalema, Wildside Holidays, The town of Ronda and the Caminito del Rey.

Hoces del río Duratón Natural Park

  • Region: Castilla y Leon.
  • Province: Segovia.
  • Declared a Natural Park: 1989
  • ZEPA (Special Area for Bird Protection).
  • Park surface area: 5,037 hectares
  • The park encompasses the towns of Sepúlveda, Sebúlcor and Carrascal del Río.

Points of interest

Hoces del Rio Duratón Natural Park (Spanish: Parque Natural de las Hoces del Río Duratón) is a natural park close to the town of Sepúlveda in the province of Segovia. Its name refers to the Duratón River and “Las Hoces” refer to the series of 100m high gorges that were formed over milenia by river erosion.

Above Image image used from wikipedia By Carlos Delgado – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

This area is famous for its nesting colony of griffon vultures (over 600 pairs with excellent breeding results each year.) The sheer cliffs of the gorge have created the perfect nesting site for these amazing carrion birds and the huge plains and mountains surrounding this area obviously have a plentiful food supply.

Hotels close to the Hoces del río Duratón Natural Park


In the protected area of the Hoces del río Duratón Natural Park there are different habitats depending on climatic conditions and soil differences. Almost 600 species of flora have been recorded and three different and determined zones can be distinguished.

The moorland area: This occupies most of the surface of the park and is located in the upper area, where the soil is dry and poor. Here we can find common juniper and prickly juniper with thyme, gorse, sages, lavenders and other scrubland plants. The junipers in particularily have been badly affected by badly thought out farming practices over the years and in many places they have naturally been been replaced by the more resilient thyme and gorse. In some areas, particularly in the southwestern area there are resin pine plantations although today they are practically abandoned.

The Cliffs or rupicola ecosystem: The vertical walls up to 100 metres that make up this area of ​​cliffs and ravines hold very little soil and hold even less water. Searching the cracks and crevices and with the use of decent binoculars one can find Sedum acre , S. dasyphyllum and S. sediforme). If you look closer to the griffon nest sites other plants appear to be making good use of the nitrogen rich areas of excrement. Maidenhair ans Asplenium amongst others. Larger shrubs also cling to the cliff side such as pistacio terebinthus, black hawthorn and fig tree.

The bottom of the canyon or the riparian ecosystem: At the bottom of the canyon the soil content is far richer and water more available so we find alders, willows, poplars, elms, ash and chestnut trees. amongst these grow the larger shrubs such as dogwood, elderberry, blackberry, wildrose, blackthorn and hawthorn. other fruiting trees can also be found such as walnut, plum, almond, cherry and hazelnut.


The different habitats in the park make for a great wealth of fauna and birdlife (especially the griffons) stand out from the rest with almost 200 species listed for the area. there is however over 300 other species of non-ornithological fauna

Barbels and carp found in the reservoir area are also abundant in the river along with common trout. There is a healthy population of otters that have been reproducing well over the years.

Among the amphibians and reptiles are common frogs and toads and the more unusual midwife toad. Viperine snake can be seen in the river hunting and if you are lucky a ladder snake searching for eggs on the cliffs.

In the pine forests there are roe deer, wild boar, fox, squirrels, badgers. beech marten and weasels.

There are around 195 nesting and migrating species, distributed by the different habitats that occur in the park:

The cliffs along the gorge are used by many species of birds to nest. Griffon vultures are most common and stand out due to their size and number. This natural park hold one of the largest reproductive colonies in Europe at around 600 pairs . Other species of birds of prey that stand out are egyptian vulture, peregrine falcon, kestrel, eagle owl, goshawk and golden eagle. Along with the raptors there are corvids such as the jackdaw and red-billed chough.

In the moors that surround the canyon on the higher plateaux steppe birds are observed. Dupont’s lark, red legged partridge, shrikes and thrushes are also found in places with more vegetation.

In the pine forests of the southwest area birds of prey such as goshawk, sparrowhawk, booted eagle, kites, (both black and red), Eagle owl, little owl, tawney owl and long eared owl.

Birds present at the bottom of the canyon or riparian ecosystem are blackbirds, finches, nightingales and robins that feed on the ground and in the trees. There are also warblers, woodpeckers and nuthatches that feed on the trunks of trees..

Also at the bottom of the canyon there are other birds such as goldfinches, golden oriole and closer or in the water we can find kingfisher and dipper, warbler, white and gray wagtail Mallards, teals, cormorants and herons.


The area of ​​the Parque de las Hoces del Río Duratón has been occupied by man since prehistoric times . The oldest finds are Neolithic ceramics dating from 3000 BC. The known settlements belong to the Copper Age (2000 BC) while the cave paintings (of the so-called schematic art ) as well as the vast majority of finds are from the Bronze Age (about 1000 years BC .). The site of El Solapo del Águila, in the Corral de Muñecas has the highest concentration of cave paintings in the park, is especially relevant and worth a visit. (ask in the visitor centre (see below)).

Within the natural park there are several monuments of interest. The hermitage of San Frutos stands out, which is located on a rocky spur over one of the gorges, and the monastery of Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles at the bottom of the canyon.

Also relevant are the ruins of the Visigothic hermitage of San Julián, excavated in the rock, and the cave of the Seven Altars. (a natural cave inside which is a Visigoth religious monument from the 7th century . It is estimated to be the oldest Christian temple in the province of Segovia.It is located on the right bank, near the Villaseca bridge, about 100 m upriver, raised about 10 m from the bottom of the canyon (currently you go up some stairs). A gate protects the entrance and the key is kept in the nearby town of Villaseca)

Information/Visitors Centers

Oficina de Turismo y Centro de Interpretación de la Antigua Cárcel (Address, Plaza del Trigo, 6 Sepúlveda)

This is the best place to head for to find out more about the park and the general area and is in the town of Sepúlveda. (They have a tourist website only in Spanish.)

Opening hours:
Mondays 10:30 to 14:30 h and 16:00 to 18:00
Tuesdays Closed
Wednesday to Sunday 10:00 to 14:30 and 16:00 to 19:00

Interpretation Center, the Park House

The interpretation center of the Hoces del Río Duratón natural park is also located in the village of Sepúlveda. The old church building has been restored and adapted and consists of an audiovisual room and an exhibition that allows to obtain a complete idea of ​​the protected natural space.

There is an information service and also this is where you get permits to walk in the restricted areas of the park.

Other places to see and viewpoints in the Hoces del río Duratón Natural Park

There are several different points that are of special importance because they allow you to appreciate views of the park. The most outstanding viewpoint of all is that of the hermitage of San Frutos. Other viewpoints are:

  • Mirador de la Virgen de la Peña , in Sepúlveda, next to the church of the Virgen de la Peña, with information panels.
  • Mirador del Meandro, on the road to Villar de Sobrepeña .
  • Postigo de la Perejilera viewpoint , near the town of Sepúlveda.
  • Mirador del Portillo , overlooking the Monastery of Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles de la Hoz.
  • Viewpoint of the Paso de la Glorieta , near Sepúlveda.

The Grazalema Guide

The best way to see all our web projects in one place is over at the Grazalema Guide.

The Grazalema Guide – Tourist Information Portal for the Sierra de Grazalema, Wildside Holidays, The town of Ronda and the Caminito del Rey.

Parque natural del Delta del Ebro

  • Region: Catalunya.
  • Province: Tarragona.
  • Declared a Natural Park: 1983.
  • Park surface area: Land: 8.445 hectares (including 2,578 hectares of nature reserves) – Marine: 564 hectares.
  • Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance 1993.
  • ZEPA (Special Area for Bird Protection).

Points of interest

The Parque natural del Delta del Ebro holds a great importance internationally as more than 300 species of birds (of the 700 that exist in Europe) have been observed at the Delta. This includes resident, pre and post-nuptial migration as well as wintering flocks. It is the second largest wetland in the western Mediterranean. (The first being the Camargue in France.)

This river outlet has been shaped over centuries by sea storms and river flooding and around 45 percent of the delta is less than 50cm above sea level. It is consantly being created and reshaped by sediment build up from river flooding and sand deposit/erosion from wave action. There are two large, shallow coastal lagoons partially enclosed by long sand spits, El Fangar and Els Alfacs. These shallow bays, salt marshes, fresh water springs, reed beds, dunes, sand bars and islands are habitats that are further protected as Reserves within the park area.

Man has adapted most of the delta area by planting rice fields fed by a network of irrigation canals. These, along with the salt pans, add to the natural ecosystems for the fauna when cared for correctly. Surrounded by an area of human exploitation the diverse wealth of the delta continues through the protection of the park status.

Find a a hotel close to the Parque natural del Delta del Ebro

The Park can be subdivided into nine basic zones of interest.

  • Llacuna de les Olles: This is the smallest lagoon of the delta and an interesting area between the beach and lagoon.
  • La Punta del Fangar: This is an area with a sand surface of around 410 hecyares which can be visited by car, bike or by foot.
  • Llacuna del Canal Vell: With an extension of 235 hectares.
  • Desembocadura: The zone of the opening of the Ebro includes the protected natural areas of the Garxal (280 hectares), illa of Sant Antoni (170 hectares) and illa of Buddha .
  • Riu i Platja de Migjorn: The Migjorn river is an old opening of the Ebro that surrounds l’Illa by Buddha (the island of Buddha). The area is an accessible zone by car from San Jauma (town nearby)
  • Llacuna de la Tancada: Over 300 hectares and visiting this area by car or bicycle is recommendable. Flamingo’s and many different species of ducks are frequently seen in this lagoon.
  • Punta de la Banya: The atmosphere in this area is very interesting. A great amount of birds stay here during the winter. The access is restricted with exception of the days between the 15 of July and the 15 of September, without leaving the beach the area can be entered by car.
  • Llacuna de l’Encanyissada: With an extension of 1192 hestares this is the greatest lagoon of the Delta.
  • Ullals de Baltasar: This is the only fresh water lagoon of the entire delta. It is not a well-known zone but is well worth a visit.


Sandy areas and shore lines are dominated by plants that have adapted to high salinity, all of which aid in fixing the dunes. The most common species to be found here are clump forming Marram grass (Ammophila arenaria subsp. arundinacea), Sea spurge (Euphorbia paralias), Sand couch grass (Elymus farctus subsp. farctus), Yellow-flowered rest harrow (Ononis natrix), Fleshy-leaf  thymelaea (Thymelaea hirsuta), huge pampas like Silk grass (Erianthus ravennae) and the summer flowering white Sea daffodil (Pancratium maritimum).

Thick reed-beds are seen where the water table is high and the area is frequently inundated. The most characteristic plants include Common reed (Phragmites australis), the taller Phragmites australis subsp. chrysanthus and pink flowering Sea Bindweed (Calystegia soldanella).

Two plants that grow here which have been used for traditional weaving crafts are Great fen-sedge (Cladium mariscus) and Bulrush (Typha sp).

Along the river banks, where there is less salt, a tree lined corridor has formed consisting of White poplar (Populus alba), White willow (Salix alba), Alder (Alnus glutinosa), Ash (Fraxinus sp.), Field elm (Ulmus minor), and climbers such as honeysuckle (Lonicera biflora).

Approaching the sea this woodland is replaced by Oleander (Nerium oleander) and Tamarisk species.

In the “ullals”, freshwater ponds fed by springs are White water lily (Nymphaea alba), Greater pond sedge (Carex riparia), Reed Canary-grass (Phalaris arundinacea), Galingale (Cyperus longus), Hedge bindweed (Calystegia sepium), Parsley Water-dropwort (Oenanthe lachenalii) and carpets of introduced Water fern (Azolla caroliniana).


The list of birds within the park is extensive, however those that are most famed are the Audouin’s Gull (Larus audouinii), a rare bird which has its largest breeding colonies here as a summer visitor along with Squacco heron (Ardeola ralloides), Purple heron (Ardea purpurea) and Montagu’s Harrier (Circus pygargus).

Residents include Great white egret (Ardea alba), Glossy ibis (Plegadis falcinellus), Greater flamingo (Phoenicopterus rubber), Red-knobbed coot (Fulica cristata) and Purple swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio).
Some wintering species are Booted eagle (Hieraaetus pennatus), Osprey (Pandion haliaetus), Richard’s pipit (Anthus richardi), Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica), Black redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros) and Black-necked grebe (Podiceps nigricollis).

Passage migrants include Eurasian Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia), Garganey (Anas querquedula), Dotterel (Charadrius morinellus), Temminck’s Stint (Calidris temminckii) and Roller (Coracias garrulus).

Reptiles and amphibians include many Slow worms (Anguis fragilis) and Montpellier snake (Malpolon monspessulanus).

Numbers of Stripeless tree frogs (Hyla meridionalis) have seriously diminished as have the Iberian green frog (Rana perezi) and the Painted frog (Discoglossus pictus). Toads include the common toad (Bufo bufo) and the Western spade-foot (Pelobates cultripes).

Amongst the lizards are Spanish psammodromus (Podarcis hispanica) which are more frequently seen than the Spiny-footed lizard (Acanthodactylus erythrurus) and the Spanish Sand Racer (Psammodromus algirus). Moorish and Turkish geckos (Tarentola mauritanica and Hemidactylus turcicus) can be seen around buildings.

Culture Parque natural del Delta del Ebro

Three themes: “Archaeology: from Prehistory to the Middle Ages”; “The Ebro, Waterway”; and “The Ebro Delta” can be seen at Montsià Museum in the town of Amposta. (Obligatory visit and very interesting!)

Information/Visitors Centers

Many of the towns and villages in the area have their own municipal information centres and museums. (The Montsià Museum in Amposta is particularily interesting).

However, the obligatory place to find out how to get the best out of a visit to the Parque natural del Delta del Ebro is the Casa de Fusta.

Natural Park Information Point – Casa de Fusta – (Partida L’Encanyissada, s/n – Poble Nou del Delta, Amposta)

The “Casa de Fusta” (Wooden House) is one of the most emblematic buildings of the Ebro Delta. It was built in the 1920’s by a group of hunters who settled in the delta attracted by the quantity and variety of aquatic hunting opportunities (ducks!) . Now it houses the Ebro Delta Interpretation Centre and the ornithological museum.

Also visit these information points

  • Poble Nou de la Delta (Viewing point and cycle lane).
  • Oficina Municipal de Turismo – Plaça González Isla, L’Ampola.
  • Patronato Municipal de Turismo – Sant Joan 55, L’Ametlla de mar.

The official Amposta tourism website is here.

The Grazalema Guide

The best way to see all our web projects in one place is over at the Grazalema Guide.

The Grazalema Guide – Tourist Information Portal for the Sierra de Grazalema, Wildside Holidays, The town of Ronda and the Caminito del Rey.

L’Albufera de València

  • Region: Valencia.
  • Province: Valencia.
  • Declared a Ramsar wetland: 1989.
  • Protected surface area: 3,114 hectares.

Points of interest

Beaches, dunes, forest, rice fields, the lagoon… these Mediterranean eco-systems are amazing biodiversity hotspots. L’Albufera de València Nature Park and lagoon is located 11 kilometres south of Valencia.

In1990 L’Albufera de València Nature Reserve was listed as a Ramsar site in the list of wetlands of international importance for birds and since 1991 the Parc Natural de l’Albufera de València has also been included in the Special Protection Areas (Zepa in Spanish).

Since Roman and Muslim times the area has an important network of ditches and canals for irrigation. One of the most important is the Acequia Real del Júcar , which is the irrigation canal that provides water to most of the orchards and rice fields located in the surroundings of the Albufera.

Find a hotel in the area around L’Albufera de València natural park

Environmental issues

Its amazing that this area so close to the city of Valencia has open fields and long beaches, tours of the forest, cycling routes and boat trips. However, it is not without its environmental issues.

L’Albufera is in urgent need of a new inflow of quality water in order to regain the clarity and transparency it once had.

At present, city and industrial water treatment systems (treatment plants, sewers) are being improved in order to prevent poor quality water from reaching l’Albufera.

The 1970’s and 1980’s saw urban clusters and industrial parks built nearby. They dumped (and in some cases still do) their wastewater directly into the lake. In addition, there was an increase in the use of pesticides and weedkillers in agriculture in the area. All of this meant that, in just a few years, l’Albufera went from having clear water with a wide range of plants and animals, to having murky green water (due to the proliferation of phytoplankton) from which aquatic plants and many animal species disappeared.

We will have to see what the future holds for these smaller “protected” areas close to highly populated areas but in many cases the outlook is not positive.


More than 800 different species of plants can be found in the natural park. They can be separated by their habitat: coastal dunes, salt marshes, scrub/mediterranean forest and marshland.

On the coastal dunes (closer to the sea), the mobile dunes have dune grass or sea ​​bell and on fixed dunes lentiscus is predominant.

In the marshes salts accumulate, so the plants that live here are adapted to high concentrations of salt, hence the name of salt marshes. They are usually succulents, such as salt grass.

Scrubland and the Mediterranean forest is made up of arboreal and shrub species such as Aleppo pine, lentiscus, juniper and kermes oak. Also myrtle, thyme, gorse, rosemary, European fan palm .

Amongst the marshes there is an abundance of reeds creating an excellent habitat for bird and other wildlife


The lake has a huge diversity of animals in its environment. Although some fish species can be highlighted such as the fartet and the samarugo (both species of fish in danger of extinction) and the recent appearance of the slug fish Blennius fluviatilis. Eel, mullet and sea ​​bass also still have economical importance.

This park is known for the extraordinary wealth of birdlife. Over 10,000 Red-crested pochard, 20 000 Northern shoveler have been counted. The heron colonies are also noteworthy with cattle egret, Squacco heron all easily visible as well as species such as common tern, black-footed tern, common stilt and grey teal

Culture and economy

The most important human use of the lagoon has traditionally been fishing. Rice growing is important and has great economic and environmental importance because plant and animal species that have disappeared from the lagoon itself live in the rice fields (where the water of the lagoon is purified). These rice paddies also provide food and shelter for many birds.

Walking in the area

There are a few short footpaths in the area that are well worth exploring. They range from 30 minutes to about an hour and a half.

  • Botanical – The walk runs around the area known as Pla de Na Sanxa (Sancha’s clearing), which is located to the south of the Gola de El Pujol (El Pujol Canal). The route goes through the inland dune system, an area of stable dunes populated by dense scrub and pine.
  • Senses – The route starts out from the Camí Vell (Old Devesa Road) and enters along the Tallafoc de la Rambla (Rambla firebreak), heading south. It then turns towards the scrubland and the stable inland dunes. Along this walk you will discover Nature using the five senses.
  • Historical el Saler – This route runs along the El Saler firebreak (Tallafoc de El Saler) from the village to the Muntanyar de la Mona.
  • The beach – The route follows the “Fco. Lozano” beach promenade which crosses the ecosystem of the fore dunes of the El Saler beach longitudinally.
  • Landscape – The route runs along the old Camí Vell de la Devesa (Old Devesa Road), which linked the city of Valencia with the village of El Perellonet. During the walk we can see the main dune slacks of the northern zone; the Quarter, El Saler, Rambla, Redona and Llarga dune slacks.

You can find detailed descriptions of the walks here.

Information/Visitors Centers

El Racó de l’ola (Address: Carrer de Vicent Baldoví, 46012 València.)
website: (Not a lot of English though you can download a map of the area)

Information Center with good information on the local wildlife and habitat, history etc.

  • Picnic area
  • Free parking
  • Lagoon of around 5 hecatres with hides.
  • A tower lookout with 360 degree views of the area.
  • Well laid out footpaths showing the various habitats such as dunes, marshes and lagoons etc.

Openinghours: Monday to Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
The center is closed: January 1 and 6, December 24, 25 and 31.

The official website for L’Albufera de València can be found here

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Islas Atlánticas National Park

  • Region: Galicia.
  • Province: Pontevedra and La Coruña).
  • Declared a National Park: 2002.
  • Park surface area: 8,480 hectares.

The Islas Atlánticas National Park are known in English as the Galician Atlantic Islands Maritime-Terrestrial National Park. They are located on the southern coast of Galicia and are made up of four archipelagos, Cortegada and Sálvora in the Arousa estuary, facing the Estuary of Pontevedra and the Cíes, in the Vigo estuary.

In the past they were known as a pirate haunt but today they are uninhabited and only open to the public in the summer.

Points of interest

In Ons don’t miss the mysterious “furnas”, granite sea caves cut by the waves, such as the mythical “Burato do Inferno”, which was “believed to go all the way down to hell, and on stormy nights the voices of the dead could be heard”.

There is a regular passenger transport service by sea to the Cíes from the port of Vigo, Baiona and Cangas during high season. There is the same service to Ons from Portonovo, Sanxenxo, Bueu and Marín. Services of a guide to Cortegada from Carril (Vilagarcía de Arousa). (Sálvora has no transport service by sea, and access to it is restricted.)

This national park has a controlled access with a maximum of 2,200 people daily allowed on the islands.

Find a hotel near to the Islas Atlánticas National Park


This sea-land ecosystem has a laurel forest and over 200 species of seaweed whilst he beds of kelp are also of importance in these waters. The most representative land flora can be found on cliffs and dunes. Clumps of furze abound, but among the Park rarities are the corema album, Ons broom (Cytisus insularis) and sand toadflax (Linaria arenaria), a small annual plant that can be found on the dunes.


The park’s most representative natural systems are the coastal area and the Atlantic continental platform. All the islands have areas reserved as breeding grounds for numerous colonies of birds, principally the yellow-legged seagull and the shag. In the sea, there is the possibility of sighting cetaceans like the finback whale which frequent these waters in the summer.

Information/Visitors Centers

Cambón Visitor Center

Before getting on a boat to the Cíes Islands, a visit the Atlantic Islands National Park Interpretation Centre in Vigo’s old town is well worth it. This exhibition centre was designed to learn about the Cíes Islands, Ons, Sálvora and Cortegada, with audiovisual recreations about habitat, geography and geology etc

The different exhibition areas will allow you to explore the archipelago through different formats and media: images, maps, models, projections, sounds and even sculptures.

Address: Rúa Palma 4. Casco Vello – Vigo

The Interpretation Centre is located in the historic building of Cambón, behind the Church of Santa María. It is close to the Ría Maritime Station, from where boats depart for the Cíes and other parts of the Vigo estuary.

WINTER Tuesday to Saturday: 10: 00-14: 00 and 16: 30-19: 30 / Sundays and holidays: 11: 00-14: 00
SUMMER Tuesday to Saturday: 10: 00-14: 00 and 17: 00-20 : 00 / Sundays and holidays: 11: 00-14: 00
Monday closed (including holidays)

The official website for the Islas Atlánticas National Park can be found here.

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