- Region: Castilla la Mancha
- Province: Ciudad Real and Toledo
- Declared a Natural Park: 1995
- Park surface area: 40,856 hectares
Points of interest
The Cabañeros National Park (in Spanish: Parque Nacional de Cabañeros) is located within the two provinces of Ciudad Real and Toledo. It is the best and largest surviving area of Iberian Mediterranean forest, with an enormous variety of plant species. It also includes sites of geological interest (Paleozoic sites known as Cámbrico y Ordovícico del Parque Nacional de Cabañeros). In addition, the territory has protection status within the framework of the Natura 2000 Network and is a Special Protection Area for Birds (ZEPA)
The area has also become famous as a starlight destination. The Starlight Foundation is a non-profit organization that was founded in 2009 to promote the protection of the night sky and the development of “astrotourism” and there is an ever growing list of starlight destinations in Spain to visit.
Find a hotel in the Cabañeros National Park
Towns and villages in the park area
- Los Navalucillos, )Also has three hamlets: Valdeazores, Los Alares y Robledo del Buey).
Ciudad Real province:
- Alcoba de los Montes (Also a hamlet called Santa Quiteria).
- Horcajo de los Montes.
- Navas de Estena.
- Retuerta del Bullaque (with its hamlets called Pueblonuevo del Bullaque and El Molinillo).
Promotional video for the 25th anniversary of the park in 2020
This promo video made for the 25th aniversary of the declaration of Cabañeros national park shows well the diverse sceneries and wildlife that in habits the area. (Don’t forget to subscibe to the Wildside Holidays YouTube channel!) 🙂
The national park is represented by plant communities adapted to the continental mediterranean climate with cold winters and hot and dry summers, the most abundant rainfall occurs in spring and autumn.
Four species of the genus Quercus dominate the landscape of Cabañeros. They are slow-growing trees with a wide crown, such as the holm oak , the most adapted to water scarcity, or the gall oak and cork oak , which prefer somewhat more humid areas, or the rebollo oak or melojo (found growing in the vicinity of the riverbeds or in the high areas of the park, occupying the shady areas due to its need for more water than the other three oaks.)
Most common growing amongst these trees are strawberry tree, rosemary, heather and rockrose. Herbaceous species such as Paeonia officinalis subsp. microcarpa, Paeonia broteri, Viola riviniana, Trifolium trukeante, Brachypodium sylvaticum, Festuca paniculata, Cynosurus cristatus and Vicia villosa can also be found.
In the bottoms of some valleys peat bogs have formed and are more than four thousand years old. In these areas you may find brabant myrtle, or carnivorous plants such as the flytrap or the pinguicula.
There are over a thousand vascular plants in Cabañeros National park and also 550 species of lichens (Thats a fifth of those present in the Iberian Peninsula.)
Cabañeros is characterized by its plain and mountain areas and most of the fauna lives between both environments thus benefiting from the ease of finding food in the grasslands and moving in search of shelter among the thick forests and higher ground.
In the sparsely wooded plains that makes up the grasslands it is possible to observe deer species , with large groups of females and calves in springtime and the belligerent encounters between the males during the rutting seasin during autumn. Ibex, wild boar and fox are also present in good numbers. Cabañeros is also the habitat of medium-sized carnivores such as wildcat, genet, marten, mongoose and badger.
If you are really lucky then Iberian lynx are also in the area.
Steppe birds such as little bustard and red legged partridge are here whilst raptors include Golden, Imperial and short-toed eagles as well as black and red kites. Also common and lesser kestrel can be found.
The higher and mountainous area of Cabañeros is also home to one of the black vulture , which makes its huge nests in the larger more inaccessible cork oaks. There are more than 200 pairs in the area and this is one of the largest breeding colonies in the world. It is interesting to note that due to the lack of cliff side nesting areas griffon vultures are much scarcer so the black vulture has less food competition.
Humans and Culture
The main human activities that took place in the Cabañeros area were charcoal extraction , grazing and agriculture. Other traditional activities that are still carried out are beekeeping and of course the cork harvest.
Archaeological remains can be found in the park’s area of influence, from Bronze Age settlements to Roman and Visigothic ruins. There are remains of the Bronze Age in Cerro D. Rodrigo (Alcoba de los Montes), of the Palelolithic in Navalquera, Los Llanos, La Grajera and Los Rasos (Horcajo de los Montes), in Los Manantiales and Pueblonuevo del Bullaque (Retuerta del Bullaque). The Malamoneda necropolis in Hontanar stands out, corresponding to the Hispano-Roman, Visigoth, Muslim and medieval Christian stages.
Information/Visitors Centers in the area
Cabañeros National Park Visitor Center. (CM-4017, 1 Km from the village of Horcajo de los Montes)
This is the largest visitor center in the park, with different rooms to discover the natural treasures of the Cabañeros National Park. The main exhibition area shows the different ecosystems of Cabañeros throughout the four seasons. There is also an exhibition displaying the culture and traditions of the region. There are also projection rooms, a library, picnic areas and free parking.
Hours are from 10 am to 6 pm from Friday, Saturday, Sunday and bank holidays.
Casa Palillos Visitor Center. (Access from the CM-403, five kilometers from Pueblo Nuevo del Bullaque, towards Santa Quiteria.)
This is an obligatory visit for wildlife enthusiasts and walkers as this centre provides complete information about footpaths plus fauna and flora visible depending on the season. Free parking, toilet services, and a picnic area.
Hours: Open every day
- December-February from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- March-May from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
- June-August from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
- Sep-Oct from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Torre de Abraham Interpretation Center. (This is the visitor center next to the reservoir (Torre de Abraham)
With an exhibition on the fauna and flora of the park associated with the riverside forest, and a fantastic viewpoint over the reservoir this place is well worth the visit.
There is a recreational area with tables and swings, parking and toilet services.
The botanical footpath path follows the riverbed of the Bullaque river and is suitable for people with reduced mobility.
Hours: open every day, December-February from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., March-May from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., June-August from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sep-Oct from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Observatory of the Storks. (Located on the road from Pueblonuevo del Bullaque to Santa Quiteria, 3 km. from the Casa Palillos Visitor Center.)
From here you can see a large colony of white storks (Common cranes also during migration) plus the deer rut in autumn.
Information point in village of Navas de Estena.
Information on the park and tourist information office organised by the Navas del Estena Town Hall. Also has a historical exhibition on banditry in the area.
Hours: from Friday to Sunday and holidays (autumn and spring also open on Thursdays).
December-May from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
June-September from 9 to 19
October-November from 9 to 18.
Zoorama in Retuerta del Bullaque. (Ethnographic museum in the village of Alcoba de los Montes.)
The exhibition on the animals that live in the park is very good plus there is a very complete exhibition about the traditional way of life in the park with special emphasis on the shepherds and the charcoal burners cabins that gives the area its name. (Cabañeros = Cabins)
Hours: Weekends and bank holidays weekends.
October-March from 9 to 14 and from 15 to 18 hours
April and May from 9 to 14 and from 16 to 19
June-September from 10 to 14 and from 16 to 20.
Spains official tourism website for Cabañeros
Walking routes (Ask in one of the visitor centres for more information)
- Plaza de los Moros, in Horcajo de los Montes.
- Sierra de Castellar de los Bueyes, in Horcajo de los Montes.
- Colada de Navalrincón, which links the Visitor Centers of Casa Palillos and Torre de Abraham.
- Boquerón del Estena, in Navas de Estena.
- Chorro Route, Chorrera Chica and Rocigalgo, in Los Navalucillos.
- Rocigalgo Massif Route, in Los Navalucillos.
- Choker routes (Valhondo, Valle del Alcornocal and Robledal-Alcornocal).
- Routes of La Viñuela.
There is a bit more info over at wikipedia
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Iberia Nature Forum
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