Walking and wildlife holidays in Cantabria
- Capital: Santander.
- Area: 5,300 km²
Cantabria lies on the north coast of Spain. It boasts beautiful beaches, lush river valleys and green mountains. Santander, the capital city, has both a ferry port and an airport.
The highest peaks are to be found in the Picos de Europa mountain range which is shared between Cantabria, Castilla y Leon and Asturias. The Peña Vieja summit at 2,613 m is the highest point within Cantabria.
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The Pico de Tres Mares is well known as three different rivers begin here, the Duero ending in the Atlantic Ocean, the Nansa finishing in the Cantabrian sea and the Ebro leading to the Mediterranean Sea.
The Altamira cave is 270 metres (890 feet) long, discovered by a hunter in 1868 it is famous for its magnificent prehistoric paintings and engravings. It can be found around 30 kilometres (19 miles) west of Santander.
1. National Park of Picos de Europa. The Montaña de Covadonga National Park ( now The Picos de Europa National Park) was established in Asturias in 1918, the first national park in Spain. The now much larger park covers three major massifs – Western, Central and Eastern which are all part of the Cordillera Cantabria range. The dramatic Cares river canyon, which is 1,500m deep, divides the western and central parts.
2. Oyambre The estuaries and rocky and muddy intertidal zones comprise an excellent habitat for the many aquatic birds that winter in the area or rest there during migrations. Among the species that can be observed are the common teal, mallard, common sandpiper, curlew and other species such as the shag and the yellow- legged gull.
3. Saja Besaya Natural Park This protected area has a great wealth of fauna and flora. Among the numerous species, the wild boar, otter, wolf, golden eagle and roe deer stand out . The deer, which was reintroduced in 1949, is now found throughout the area attracting thousands of visitors hoping to experience the bellowing during the rutting season .
4. Dunas de Liencres Natural Park This area is made up of coves and two beaches and has a large maritime pine plantation and one of the most important dune systems in Cantabria.
5. Macizo de Peña Cabarga Natural Park Fantastic views of the bay of Santander and an impressive Karst landscape.
6. Marismas de Santoña Victoria y Joyel The Santoña Victoria y Joyel Natural Park 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.
7. Collados del Ason Natural Park The area is inhabited by a wide representation of the Cantabrian mountain fauna including the large raptors such as griffon vulture, Egyptian vulture, short-toed eagle and goshawk.
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