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Wildside Holidays – Spain

Take a trip on the Wildside! Discover the wildlife and nature of Spain, its Natural and National Parks and find the top wildlife, activity and walking holiday companies.

Looking for Wildlife & Walking Holidays in Spain?

Looking for Wildlife & Walking Holidays in Spain? Wildside Holidays publishes information pages about the Natural and National parks in Spain. Information about wildlife in Spain and where to find it. Just look in the right hand column for the Spanish regions or the top menu for the wildlife pages.

Sustainable rural and wildlife tourism in Spain is a major key to wildlife and habitat protection. There are many studies showing how wildlife tourism can impact local economies, habitats and the wildlife it contains in a very positive way.

In the left column you will find links to some of the top INDEPENDENT activity holiday companies in Spain.

If you are travelling without a walking or wildlife guiding company in Spain then we highly reccommend booking.com for your hotel and accommodation needs.

You can also reserve trains and buses using the booking box of OMIO located in the right hand column of all pages.

A huge thank you to everyone that uses the links on these pages to reserve a hotel or transport in Spain. The small commission we receive helps a lot. Thankyou!

Looking for Wildlife & Walking Holidays in Spain? Wildside Holidays is the answer!

The Griffon Vultures of Grazalema (Gyps fulvus – Buitre Leonado)

Description

Visible all year in the natural park of Grazalema this bird is larger than an eagle, with a wingspan of up to 260 cm (8.53 Ft). In flight, their wings are broad, with the primaries (finger-like feathers) usually clearly visible; the tail is short, and the neck retracted. It has buff brown coloured plumage on the back, stomach and the anterior band of the wings, while the rest of the wing feathers and tail are dark brown. The head and long neck are covered with white down and there is a distinctive collar of long feathers.

On adults the bill is yellow and collar white, whilst on juveniles the bill is grey and collar pale brown. They feed on carrion, most of the time in a state of decay and at other times in an initial stage (especialy large mammals). The carcasses left out by farmers are also an important part of the diet of these birds.



They can often be seen in groups circling and rising higher on spiraling currents of hot air. The day is spent soaring at great heights, sometimes invisible to the naked eye, dropping from the sky with wings and feathers whistling when there is food available. The other vultures flying in the area see this manoeuvre with their extraordinary eyesight and very soon a large group of eager scavengers will gather near the corpse. On the ground, near the carcass, the vulture behaves very timidly. But once the feast has begun they engage in spectacular fights, some feasting well and others left hungry.

Habitat

The The Griffon Vultures of Grazalema (Gyps fulvus – Buitre Leonado) live in colonies on cliffs faces. At dawn they can be seen on ledges waiting for the sun to warm the air and for thermals to form on which they can soar. Thus the vulture can fly all day using little energy. At dusk they return to their shelters, small ledges located preferably under a roof of rock and protected from the winds, where they spend the night. These ledges also serve to build nests on and raise chicks.

Breeding habits

Breeding begins in December and finishes in April. When the nesting season approaches, the vulture pair will perform spectacular synchronised flights in which each individual will copy in absolute detail its pair’s movements. The Spanish term for the breeding colony cliff is ”buitreras”. Both sexes participate in nest building, making this from branches, straw and hair. The egg is laid in late January. Each pair has a single egg, incubation lasts about 52 days and is cared for by both parents. They take turns at intervals of 24 or 48 hours, never leaving it unattended. The young leave the nest in July or August. In the Iberian Peninsula the Griffon Vulture is a sedentary species that can be seen all year, but the juveniles sometimes migrate south for the winter and return in the spring.

A walk in the mountains at any time of year almost guarantees close up observation of the The Griffon Vultures of Grazalema (Gyps fulvus – Buitre Leonado)


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.

https://grazalemaguide.com/

Maestrazgo global geopark

  • Region. Aragón (Zaragoza and Teruel)
  • Declared a global geopark: 2012 and renewed in 2020
  • Protected area: 270,000 hectares
  • Towns and villages: Zaragoza and TeruelAguaviva, Alcorisa, Aliaga, Allepuz, Berge, Bordon, Camarillas, Cantavieja, Cañada de Benatanduz, Cañada de Verich, Cañada Vellida, Cañizar del Olivar, Castel de Cabra, Castellote, Crivillen, La Cuba, Cuevas de Almuden, Ejulve, Estercuel, Fortanete, Fuentes Calientes, Galve, Gargallo, La Ginebrosa, Hinojosa de Jarque, La Iglesuela del Cid, Jarque de la Val, Mas de las Matas, Mata de los Olmos, Mezquita de Jarque, Mirambel, Miravete de la Sierra, Molinos, Mosqueruela, Los Olmos, Las Parras de Castellote, Pitarque, Puertomingalvo, Seno, Tronchón, Villarluengo, Villarroya de los Pinares, La Zoma

Points of interest

The Maestrazgo global geopark lies between Zaragoza and Teruel in a very mountainous region at the eastern end of the Iberian System. The main range is the Sierra de Gúdar located roughly in the center. Other important ranges are the Sierra de la Lastra, the Sierra de Garrocha, the Sierra de Caballos, the Sierra de la Cañada, the Sierra Carrascosa and the Sierra del Rayo. The peaks of the highest mountains are Peñarroya at 2019 metres, Alto del Pobo at 1,770 metres and Tarayuela at 1,738 metres. they are frequently covered with snow during the winter months.

The Maestrazgo Geopark Viewpoint Network

The Maestrazgo Geopark Viewpoint Network was created with the aim of renovating, improving and installing information and interpretation points of geological heritage in conjunction with other cultural and heritage elements and the project has been running since 2010. The information panels at these places are bi-lingual in Spanish and English.

The most important viewpoints in the Maestrazgo global geopark are;
  • Aliaga (viewpoints of the Aliaga Valley, the Aldehuela Strait and the geological park).
  • Alcorisa (progressive angular unconformity).
  • Aguaviva (fluvial dynamics of the Bergantes river).
  • Berge, Bordón (Bordón anticline).
  • Cañizar del Olivar (viewpoint of the Estercuel River).
  • Crivillén, Cuevas de Cañart (viewpoint of the Salto de San Juan).
  • Gargallo, Galve, La Cañada de Verich, La Mata de los Olmos, Mas de las Matas (Santa Flora viewpoint).
  • Galve (The paleontology museum and guided tours looking for dinosaur footprints)
  • Miravete de la Sierra (site with dinosaur tracks).
  • Molinos (geological environment of Molinos).

Find a hotel in the area of Maestrazgo global geopark

Booking.com

Museo Paleontológico de Galve

Among the numerous paleontological finds in this area, one of the most important was the discovery of the first dinosaur fossil in Spain (Aragosaurus ischiaticus). The paleontology museum in Galve is the place to head for if you have an interest in fossils and dinosaurs (Address: Calle Mayor Baja, 10 in the town of Galve). Some of the species discovered in this area are;

  • Dinosaurs Aragosaurus ischiaticus, Galveosaurus herreroi, Delapparentia turolensis, G ideonmantellia amosanjuanae, Iguanodon galvensis and Camarillasaurus cirugedae.
  • Dinosaur eggsGuegoolithus (Macroolithus) turolensis.
  • MammalsLavocatia alfambrensis, Eobaatar hispanicus, Parendotherium herreroi, Spalacotherium henkeli, Pocamus pepelui, Galveodon nannothus, Columbomys cuencae and Crusafontia amoae.
  • AmphibiansGalveperton ibericum.
  • FishLonchidion microselachos.
  • InvertebratesConfussiscala mirambelensis, Olorizia olorizi and Eliptio galvensis.
  • FloraProtaxodioxylon, Protosecueoxylon turolensis.

Also the areas of Galve

Baranco Luca

The site contains more than 60 sauropod tracks that are distributed in two outcrops. Associations of pairs corresponding to the footprints and handprints of these dinosaurs are sometimes observed.

El Cantalar

In this site of the Jurassic-Cretaceous transit there are tracks which contain tridactyl ichnites attributed to a theropod dinosaur and another, with a total of eleven tracks, has been attributed to a quadruped archosaur about 12 meters long (a crocodile or a sauropod).

Las Cerradicas

Located on a sandstone layer of the Villar del Arzobispo formation (Upper Jurassic-Lower Cretaceous transit) that presents abundant current marks formed before the footprints. More than 150 ichnites have been documented here.

Several traces include typically tridactyl footprints produced by small dinosaurs, initially identified as theropods, but later interpretations support that they must have been produced by ornithopods (oval footprints of small hands associated with tridactyl feet can be observed). Several traces attributed to small sauropods have also been found. Parallel fossilized tracks at this site seem to indicate gregarious behavior in basal ornithopods and titanosauriform sauropods.

Pelejón Corrales

There are 40 tracks at this site, 36 of them grouped into seven tracks. In general, ichnites have been assigned to small and medium-sized theropod dinosaurs. In addition, there are also phytophagous dinosaurs of the ornithopod type. This deposit has traditionally been located in the Lower Cretaceous, within the El Castellar formation, although the latest research places it in the Villar del Arzobispo formation, which is located below and is older (Jurassic – Cretaceous transit).

A visit to Dinópolis

Made up of a large central park in the town of Teruel and seven more smaller centers in the villages of Galve, Castellote, Albarracín, Riodeva, Peñarroya de Tastavins, Rubielos de Mora and Ariña. With life size models and exhibitions, Dinópolis combines science and fun so that you can experience the fascinating world of dinosaurs up close.

Dinópolis combines science and fun so that you can experience the fascinating world of dinosaurs up close - Maestrazgo global geopark
Dinópolis combines science and fun so that you can experience the fascinating world of dinosaurs up close – Maestrazgo global geopark

Visiting Teruel first and then the 7 other centres pretty much covers the main parts of the Maestrazgo global geopark. Find out more at the website of Dinopolis: https://www.dinopolis.com

Interpretation centres in the Maestrazgo global geopark

There are quite a few interpretacion centres (Centro de interpretación) in the area.

  • Centro de interpretación de los castillos in Puertomingalvo (Address: Calle Mayor, 11 Puertomingalvo). Information and history of the defensive castles and fortifications in the Maestrazgo.
  • Centro de interpretación medioambiental in Villarluengo (Address: Plaza del Ayuntamiento, 2 (Town hall), Villarluengo). General wildlife and geological information.
  • Centro de interpretación del patrimonio arquitectónico del Maestrazgo in Miranbel (Address: Plaza de la Iglesia, 1, Mirambel). Arquitecture and buildings of the Maestrazgo)
  • Centro de interpretación del fuego in Estercuel (Address: Umbría 2, Estercuel) Dedicated the the villages “fiesta of fire” held each autumn
  • Centro de interpretación del patrimonio cultural de las Cuevas de Cañart (Address: Plaza del Ayuntamiento, 1, Las Cuevas de Cañar) History and culture museum with guided tours of the village.
  • Centro de interpretación de los templarios in Castellote (Address: Plaza de España, Castellote) History of the knights templar in Spain
  • Centro de interpretación del esparto in La Cuba (Address: Calle en medio 16, La Cuba) Museum dedicated to the art of Esparto grass weaving and its uses.

The route of El Cid also passes through the Maestrazgo global geopark

The Way of El Cid is a cultural and tourist route that crosses Spain from the northwest to the southeast, from Castilla to the Mediterranean coast. It follows the history and the story of Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, El Cid Campeador, a famous medieval knight of the 11th century and, together with Don Quixote and Don Juan, one of Spain’s greatest characters. Unlike the latter two, El Cid is not only a literary character, but also a historical figure.

The Way of El Cid - Maestrazgo global geopark
The Way of El Cid – Maestrazgo global geopark

The main travel guide on the route is the Poem of El Cid, the great Hispanic medieval epic poem written at the end of the 12th century or beginning of the 13th. It tells of the adventures of El Cid Campeador as from his exile, fighting to survive against Moors and Christians. The places, landscapes and castles of the Song of El Cid make up the backbone of this Way. It also crosses through places that do not appear in the poem but are related to the historical figure of El Cid. The official website is here: https://en.caminodelcid.org/

official websites for the Maestrazgo global geopark

https://www.geoparquemaestrazgo.com/
http://www.maestrazgo.org/pcm.htm
https://www.turismomaestrazgo.com/


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.

https://grazalemaguide.com/

Granada global geopark

  • Region: Andalucia (Granada)
  • Declared a global geopark: 2020
  • protected area: 472, 200 hectares
  • Towns and villages: 47 municipalities of Guadix, Baza and Huéscar. (Alamedilla, Albuñán, Aldeire, Alicún de Ortega, Alquife, Bácor-Olivar, Beas de Guadix, Benalúa, Benamaurel, Caniles, Castilléjar, Castril, Cogollos de Guadix, Cortes de Baza, Cortes y Graena, Cuevas del Campo, Cúllar, Darro, Dehesas de Guadix, Diezma, Dólar, Ferreira, Fonelas, Freila, Galera, Gobernador, Gor, Gorafe, Huélago, Huéneja, Jérez del Marquesado, La Calahorra, Lanteira, Lugros, Marchal, Morelábor, Orce, Pedro Martínez, La Peza, Polícar, Puebla de Don Fadrique, Purullena, Valle del Zalabí, Villanueva de las Torres, Zújar

Points of interest

The Granada global geopark extends over the depressions called the Hoya de Guadix and the Hoya de Baza and is surrounded by some of the highest mountains of the Iberian Peninsula such as the Sierra de la Sagra (2381 m), the Sierra Mágina (2187 m), the Sierra de Arana-Huétor (1940 m), the Sierra Nevada (3484 m), the Sierra de Baza-Filabres (2271 m), the Sierra de las Estancias-Cúllar (1471 m) and the Sierra de Orce-María (1612 m).

The area is characterized by its geological, geomorphological and paleontological Quaternary wealth and the subsequent erosion of the Quaternary sediments has created the particular landscapes of the geopark characterized by valleys, depressions or “hoyas“, as they are known locally. The area is also known for cave dwellings inhabited since the Middle Ages as well as for an abundance of archaeological sites that showcase its rich historical, artistic and cultural heritage, including 72 Places of Geological Interest (LIGS)

See also the Sierra de Baza natural park: https://wildsideholidays.co.uk/sierra-de-baza/

Find a hotel in the Granada global geopark

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Geological points of interest

Places to visit in the Granada global geopark vary from river valleys, ancient lava flows and viewpoints. All of these places are on the maps and guides available from many tourist offices

  • Cerro Jabalcón knows as “The great viewpoint of the Granada Geopark” (El gran mirador del Geoparque de Granada)
  • The Guardal river valley (Valle del río Guardal)
  • The Baza ravine known as Barranco Gallego
  • Sismites in Galera and Castilléjar (Sismitas de Galera y Castilléjar)
  • The Peña de Castril
  • Fuente Nueva paleontological site -3 (Yacimiento paleontológico Fuente Nueva-3)
  • Badlands of Castilléjar and Galera (Baldíos de Castilléjar y Galera)
  • Miocene series at Cerro Molicies (Serie miocena del cerro Molicies)
  • The Marine-continental transition close to the Negratín reservoir in Cuevas del Campo (Transición marino-continental Negratín)
  • The Gullies of the Rambla del Moral in Cuevas del Campo (Cárcavas de la Rambla del Moral)
  • The Gor river valley rotational landslides in Gorafe (Valle del río Gor deslizamientos rotacionales)
  • The pillow lavas in Alamedilla ( Lavas almohadilladas de Alamedilla)
  • Unconformity of Gorafe (Discordancia angular de Gorafe)
  • Travertines of the Baths of Alicún in Alicún de las Torres and Villanueva de las Torres (Travertinos de los Baños de Alicún)
  • P-1 paleontological site in Fonelas (Yacimiento paleontológico Fonelas P-1 (EPVRF)
  • Badlands of Gorafe (Baldíos de Gorafe)
The depression known as la Hoya de Baza and the Sierra de Las Estancias
The depression known as la Hoya de Baza and the Sierra de Las Estancias

Information / visitor centres

Apart from the main information centres in the towns of Guadix, Baza and Huéscar, there is also network of museums and interpretations centres spread across the region that are well worth visiting.

  • Castril Castle (Yacimiento del Castillo de Castril).
  • The Caves Interpretation Center in Guadix (Centro de interpretación de las Cuevas).
  • Tútugi Necropolis Site in Galera (Yacimiento Necrópolis de Tútugi).
  • Visitor Reception Center and Ecomuseum in Castilléjar (Centro de recepción de visitantes y Ecomuseo de Castilléjar).
  • Archaeological-Ethnographic Museum in Puebla de Don Fadrique (Museo Arqueológico-Etnográfico de Puebla de Don Fadrique).
  • Archaeological Museum in Galera (Museo Arqueológico de Galera)
  • Almagruz Troglodyte caves and houses in Purullena (Hábitat Troglodita Almagruz)
  • Castellón Alto archaeological site in Galera (Yacimiento del Castellón Alto)
  • Municipal Archaeological Museum in Baza (Museo Arqueológico Municipal de Baza)
  • Interpretation Center of Archaeological Sites in Ciya (Centro de Interpretación de los Yacimientos Arqueológicos)
  • Megalithic Park and Interpretive Center “Megalithism of Gorafe” (Parque Megalítico y Centro de interpretación del Megalitismo de Gorafe)
  • Interpretation Center First Settlers of Europe “Josep Gibert” in Orce (Centro de Interpretación Primeros Pobladores de Europa “Josep Gibert”)
  • Valle del Río Fardes paleontological station in Fonelas (Estación paleontológica Valle del Río Fardes)

The official website for the Granada global geopark: https://www.geoparquedegranada.com/en/

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
  • Declared a UNESCO Global Geopark in 2011
  • Towns and villages: Alanís, Almadén de la Plata, Cazalla de la Sierra, Constantina, Guadalcanal, El Real de la Jara, El Pedroso, La Puebla de los Infantes, Las Navas de la Concepción, San Nicolás del Puerto

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 neighbouring parks endangered creatures such as the Iberian Lynx, Black stork and Imperial eagle.

Evergreen oak trees dominate the terrain, interspersed with meadows or dehesas.

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

The Huesna river, which holds both common and rainbow trout, has a waterfall that has 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

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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.

Flora

A small enclave of Pyrenean oak (Quercus pyrenaica) is the only one of its type in the province. Gall oaks (Q. faginea) are growing in the shady, humid areas. The Mediterranean climate favours Cork (Quercus suber) and Holm oak trees (Q. ilex). There are also Stone pines and groves of Sweet chestnut trees. The thickets are of Rockrose (Cistus sp), Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), Spanish lavender (Lavandula stoechas), Wild cherry (Prunus avium), Fig (Ficus carica) Laurustinus (Viburnum tinus) and Turpentine tree (Pistacia terebinthus).

River banks are densely wooded and consist of Alder, Ash, Elm, Poplar, diverse species of Willows and Southern nettle tree.

Fauna

Red deer and Wild boar are the larger mammals, small and elusive carnivores are Genet, Fox, Badger, Mongoose, Wild cat, Pole cat and Otter. Amongst the raptors are Short-toed, Imperial and Bonelli’s eagles and Griffon and Black vultures, Red kite and Eagle owl.

Look out for the majestic Black stork. Azure-winged magpies, Bee-eaters, Golden orioles and Hawfinches are some of the colourful birds to look out for.

The large Ocellated lizard can sometimes be spotted sunbathing on a rock or fallen tree.

The Sierra Norte de Sevilla Global Geopark

The Sierra Norte de Sevilla Global Geopark is located at the north of the province of Seville in the Sierra Morena and. The geopark includes ten towns and villages within its limits: Alanís, Almadén de la Plata, Cazalla de la Sierra, Constantina, Guadalcanal, Las Navas de la Concepción, El Pedroso, La Puebla de los Infantes, El Real de la Jara and San Nicolás del Puerto

The geopark’s varied geological, archaeological and mining history has resulted in the recognition of many sites of geological interest including:

  • Karst and mine complex at El Cerro del Hierro natural monument: a spectacular paleo-karst which originated from Middle-Upper Cambrian erosion of Lower Cambrian limestone.
  • Los Covachos Cave in Almadén de la Plata is 300m long and drops by 26m with various galleries divided between two levels, containing over 1000 inscriptions.
  • La Sima abyss in Constantina.
  • Syncline, with Ordovician to Devonian sedimentary rocks and an abundance of pelagic fossil species.
  • A site containing the highest concentration of impressions of Lower Cambrian jellyfish recorded in the Iberian Peninsula.
  • The crag-land landscapes in the Geopark’s abundant igneous rock outcrops.
  • The Beja-Acebuches amphibolites interpreted as the remains of an ancient ocean floor, and a suture between tectonic plates.
  • Permian and the Triassic rocks which represent the filling of post-orogenic continental basins.
  • Cueva Santiago in Cazalla de la Sierra is a complex cave system with artifacts from Neolithic and Chalcolithic cultures (before the Bronze Age, between about 4500 and 3500 BC).
  • The waterfalls and travertine deposits in the Hueznar River.
  • Guadalcanal is a former mining settlement, with medieval walls, Mudéjar churches and a castle.

Since the area was declared a global geopark, interpretation panels have been placed at visitor centers and and various information points in the area. (see information centres below)

Also in the area: (Ask about them in a visitor centre for more information)

  • There is a beautifully restored Carthusian Monastery near Cazalla de la Sierra, visitors can admire the architecture and view the Contemporary art which is on permanent display.
  • La Travesia Necropolis dating from the Bronze Age has been recognized for its archaeological value and is located in Almadén de la Plata.
  • There are numerous dolmens (megalithic tombs).

Information/Visitors Centers (The National Park has two visitor centres.)

Centro de Información El Robledo

Address: Ctra. Constantina-El Pedroso km. 1, 41450 Constantina. Sevilla

The El Robledo visitor centre is situated in the heart of the Sierra Norte Natural Park, 1,4 kilometres from Constantina. It is a quiet place with the sounds of riverine forests. During the summer months,aromatic plants typically found in monte mediterráneo woodland fill the air with their strong scents.

The El Robledo botanical garden, adjacent to the visitor centre. Is well worth a visit and holds a large collection of the plants to be found in the area.

Cortijo El Berrocal

Address: Camino Rural Almadén de la Plata-Los Melonares, km 5,5. 41240 – Almadén de la Plata (Sevilla)

The visitor centre is located in the public forest of Las Navas-Berrocal, a place of great scenic beauty where visitors can admire plant formations typical of the Sevillian highlands: holm oak and cork oak pastureland, riverine vegetation and Mediterranean forest with mastic, rockrose and strawberry trees.


Iberia Nature Forum

Struggling with identifying those bugs and beasties? Why not check out the Iberia nature Forum!

Discover the Iberia Nature Forum – Environment, geography, nature, landscape, climate, culture, history, rural tourism and travel.

Sierra Subbética

  • Region: Andalucia
  • Province: Córdoba
  • Declared a Natural Park: 1988
  • Park surface area: 32,056 hectares
  • Towns and villages: Cabra, Carcabuey, Doña Mencía, Iznájar, Luque, Priego, Rute and Zuheros

Points of interest

Set in the middle of Andalucia, the Sierra Subbética is a limestone semi-mountainous area with rolling hills and a high point of 1.570 metres named la Tiñosa. The main economy for the area comes from olive oil, therefore much of the area has intensive olive grove plantations.

The villages and towns in the Sierra Subbética are a delight to explore.

If you have an interest in fossils then this area should be on your bucket list for Andalucia as it is also a UNESCO global geopark and also part of the “Fossil route”

Find a hotel in the Sierra Subbética

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Flora

Holm oak (Quercus ilex) woods have a shrubby companion mixture of lentisc, wild olive, retama and peonies. Hawthorn, spurge laurel, gorse and purple phlomis occupy the open areas exposed to the sun. Gall oaks (Quercus faginea) are to be found on the northern slopes in more humid parts along with laurustinus, kermes oak, buckthorn, smilax and strawberry trees.

The highest regions which are exposed to the elements contain the hedgehog zone or low, compact spiny plants including Alyssum spinosum and hedgehog broom (Erinacea anthyllis).

River banks hold poplar, willow, hawthorn, tamarisk, southern nettle tree and brambles.

Fauna

Raptors to be seen around the park are golden, short toed, booted, bonelli’s and imperial eagles, goshawk, sparrowhawk, kestrel, lesser kestrel, eagle owl, priffon vulture and Peregrine falcon.

On high rocky outcrops look for alpine accentor, blue rock thrush and rock thrush, whereas near water you may find dipper, kingfisher, various warblers and daubenton’s bat (Myotis daubentonii).

Mammals include wild boar, spanish ibex, stone marten, fox, rabbit, hedgehog and wild cat.

The Sierra Subbetica has the most southerly population of the Miller’s water shrew (Neomys anomalus.) These red-toothed shrews add fish, amphibians, and crustaceans to their diet of worms and insects. They are adapted to their aquatic life by having long, stiff hairs on the rear feet that add surface area, increase traction, and trap air bubbles that enable them to scamper over the water surface and help them to swim.

At the rivers and streams the viperine snake and terrapin can be found and in drier areas watch out for the Lataste viper.

Sierras Subbéticas Global Geopark

The Route of the Ammonites of Las Sierras Subbéticas Geopark.

The limestone, which has been shaped by water for thousands of years, presents a fascinating karstic landscape with a great diversity of geological elements: poljes, karrens, sinkholes, chasms and more than 800 caves.

The rocks of the Sierras Subbéticas mountain ranges date back over 200 million years. Key chapters of the complex history of the Tethys Sea were recorded within the sediments, most notably ammonites, an ancient animal with a spiral shell that, due to the abundance and variety of their fossils, are an indisputable symbol of the Sierras Subbéticas Geopark

The Santa Rita Visitor Centre is part of the Route of the Ammonites in the Sierras Subbéticas Geopark (see below).

Also in the Sierra Subbética

  • Cuevas de las Murciélagos – The Bat Cave, near Zuheros was first recorded in 1868, but not explored until 1938.It contains impressive stalagmites and stalactites with underground lakes and caverns. Importantly it also holds unique rock paintings. Neolithic burial remains discovered in the cave show evidence of human occupation of the caves dating from over 35,000 years ago. Some of the finds from the cave are housed in the archaeological museum in Zuheros.
  • Almedinilla village also has a museum, set in an old watermill. The village has the remains of a Roman villa complex. Many historical remains have been discovered in the area from the Bronze age, Iberian, Phoenician and Roman eras.
  • The village of Cabra became one of the first Christian strongholds in the Roman province of Betica.

Information/Visitors Centers

Dedicated to the Cueva de los Murciélagos Natural Monument, the Cueva de los Murciélagos Ecomuseum is well worth a visit
Address – Zuheros – Carretera CO-6210, km. 4, 14870 .


In Cabra, the Santa Rita Visitor Centre displays the geological phenomena responsible for the unique physiognomy of the Sierras Subbéticas mountain range. It consists of a journey into the depths of the earth, showing the various formations caused by water modelling the limestone rock.

There are numerous interactive features displaying the natural and cultural heritage of the Sierras Subbéticas mountain range. An important part of the facilities are dedicated to geological resources and the Geopark. Visitors are greeted by a giant sculpture of an ammonite, a symbol of the importance given to geological heritage in this region.

“Address: Cabra – on the A-339 at km. 11


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Cabo de Gata-Níjar

  • Region: Andalucia.
  • Province: Almeria.
  • Declared a Natural Park: 1987.
  • Park surface area: 49.000 (34,000 terrestrial and 15,000 marine).
  • In 1997 it was designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
  • In 2015 it was declared a global geosite.

Points of interest

Cabo de Gata-Níjar is an arid part of the Iberian Peninsular that is molded from volcanic rock giving rise to a demanding habitat for both plants and animals. Domed rock formations adorn the beaches and abrupt cliffs form tiny coves. The deficiencies in the soil have created an area of low growing, drought resistant vegetation.

This combination has lead to limited numbers of inhabitants who could survive off the salt works or fishing, allowing the area to remain relatively untouched to developement untill the tourism boom of the 80’s and 90’s.

The 300 hectares of salt pans are used by numerous species of birds resting on their migrational route as well the breeding and resident species.


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Flora

Dwarf fan palm is well adapted to the harsh demands. Wild olive trees, lentisc and kermes oaks are common vegetation in the scrub zones.

A pink flowered snap dragon (antirrhinum charidemi) is endemic to the park and dianthus (dianthus charidemi) can only found in a few localized area.
Some of the highly specialized plants are;

Verbascum charidemi, Teucrium charidemi, Androcymbium europaeum, Helianthemum alypoides, Linaria nigricans, Sideritis osteoxylla, Ulex canescens.

Saltwort, common reeds and glasswort grow in sandy, saline areas.

Fauna

Grey and purple heron, cranes, storks, black-winged stilts, oystercatchers and avocets can all be observed at the salinas (salt flats separated from the sea by a sand bar), as well as thousands of flamingos.

There are many migratory transitions here as ducks over winter and spring and autumn brings thousands of birds resting during migration.

Sea birds include yellow-legged gulls, razorbills, shags, terns, cory’s and balearic shearwaters.

The rare Dupont’s lark (Chersophilus duponti) lives on the steppe where there are also little bustards.

Italian wall lizards (Podarcis sicula) are the most unusual of the 15 or so reptiles. Others include ocellated lizards (Timon lepidus / Lacerta lepida), grass snakes (Natrix natrix) and Lataste’s viper (Vipera latasti).

The marine reserve protects the Mediterranean moray (Muraena helena), garfish (Belone belone), cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis), and flying gurnard (Dactylopterus volitans) as well as a multitude of crustaceans, molluscs and fish.

The Cabo de Gata-Níjar UNESCO Global Geopark

The geodiversity of Cabo de Gata-Níjar UNESCO Global Geopark is mostly associated with the volcanic range of Cabo de Gata, the most complex and extensive volcanic deposit in the Iberian Peninsula of ca. 16 to 8 million years old. The volcanic complex is classified as intermediate type (andesites and dacites).

The emerged part is comprised of just 5% of the total complex, the rest can be found below the Alboran Sea, following the Carboneras Fault. It is also worth mentioning the scattered Tortonian and Messinian reefs deposits with excellent examples of Tyrrhenian fossilized beaches, and the Quaternary alluvial and coastal plain with a Wetland of International Importance known as Las Salinas.

The exceptional weathering conditions of the territory and the sub-desert dwarf vegetation allow the visitor to enjoy the geological landscape: domes, lava flows, columnar jointing, alluvial fans, coastal cliffs, dykes and fossilized reefs constructions. Inside the UNESCO Global Geopark, 39 geological sites of cultural, scientific and didactic interest have been identified, most of them also included in the Andalusian Inventory of Geological Sites.

The official UNESCO website: https://en.unesco.org/global-geoparks/cabo-de-gata-nijar

Also in the area

You can visit a cave called Cueva Ambrosio and the fort on top of the hill named Cerro de las Canteras.
You can visit a cave called Cueva Ambrosio and the fort on top of the hill named Cerro de las Canteras.

Information/Visitors Centers

Centro de Visitantes los Amoladeras

Los Amoladeras, between Retamar and San Miguel de Cabo de Gata on the AL822 at Km 7. (Approaching on the Murcia bound carriageway of the N-344 from Almería, turn off at the El Alquián exit and continue as far as the Retamar quarter. From there take the AL-3115 towards the village of Pujaire. The entrance to the visitor centre is at Km. 7, just after the intersection with La Rambla de Las Amoladeras)

The exhibitions at the Las Amoladeras visitor centre cover the fauna, flora, geological and cultural aspects of the area. Also, the existence of human settlements in the Cabo de Gata-Níjar Nature Park since the Neolithic period.

The different civilizations which subsequently colonized the area throughout history left their mark on the terrain, and this is reflected in the tour of the centre, which takes in traditional activities and crafts inherited from Arab culture, such as esparto, jarapa rugs and pottery.


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