- 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.
“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
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