Category Archives: Focus on

Valle del Jerte in Extremadura

  • Declared an Asset of Cultural Interest in 1973.
  • Towns and villages: Barrado, Cabezuela del Valle, Cabrero, Casas del Castañar, El Torno, Jerte, Navaconcejo, Piornal, Rebollar, Tornavacas, Valdastillas.
  • Best time to visit: Mid March to mid April

Located in the extreme north-east of the province, the Valle del Jerte in Extremadura is bordered to the north by the provinces of Ávila and Salamanca, to the west by Valle del Ambroz, to the south by the city of Plasencia and to the east by La Vera. The area has become quite famous for the beauty of its cherry tree orchards in spring and for the Garganta de los Infiernos Nature Reserve.

Find a hotel close to the Valle del Jerte in Extremadura

Booking.com

The cherry bloom festival

During the second week of March the festival of El Cerezo en Flor is celebrated in the Jerte Valley when over a million and a half trees are in full bloom.

Valle del Jerte in Extremadura - Picota cherries
Valle del Jerte in Extremadura – Picota cherries

At this time of year a circular route through the villages by car is highly recommended. (Valdastillas, Piornal, Barrado, Cabrero, Casas del Castañar, El Torno and Rebollar. (about 50 KM)


Reserva Natural Garganta de los Infiernos

Located in the heart of the Jerte Valley, the Garganta de los Infiernos Nature Reserve is known for its streams and waterfalls and rock pools. From the Sierra de Tormantos to the southwestern slope of the Sierra de Gredos, the course of the Jerte River shapes granite and gneiss landscapes with the highest point being the Cuerda de los Infiernos at more than 2,000 meters and the Cerro del Estecillo, an old glacier, considered to be the origin of the Jerte valley.

In the deciduous forests there are some large specimens of oak along with hawthorn, yew, holly, birch, strawberry and chestnut trees. In the undergrowth of oaks there are abundant species of ferns and orchids. On the sunniest slopes there are large areas of the cultivated picota cherry.

Reserva Natural Garganta de los Infiernos
Wildlife and nature walks in the Reserva Natural Garganta de los Infiernos

The variety of ecosystems in the Garganta de los Infiernos Nature Reserve favors the abundance and diversity of fauna. The waters of this reserve are populated by a number of fish species such as common trout, the most characteristic of these rivers. Although amphibians such as salamanders and newts are also present.

At the river side look out for kingfisher and dipper and in the skies, griffon vulture and especially golden eagles.

Mammals represented in the area include wildcat and genet, otter and the little known desman. The most abundant mammal species in the area is Spanish Ibex.

The Garganta de los Infiernos Natural Reserve has quite a few walking routes through some of the most beautiful places in the Jerte region such as: Los Pilones, Carlos V Route, Cordel del Valle and the route through Upper Extremadura. (More info on these routes at the main information centre in Cabezuela del Valle

Tourist offices and museums

Oficina de turismo del Valle del Jerte

Paraje de Peñas Albas, s/n, 10610 Cabezuela del Valle, Càceres

This is the main tourist office to head for where you will be able to get information about the area in general along with maps and guides for walking routes in the area.

Museo de la Cereza

In the same town as the main tourist office for the area you can also find the cherry museum. Here, information panels and exhibitions explain the cultivation of the world famous Jerte cherries.

C/ Hondón, 58, Cabezuela del Valle

The official website for the Valle del Jerte in Extremadura is https://www.turismocaceres.org/es/comarcas-turisticas/valle-del-jerte


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.

Guided wildlife tours in the The Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park

Internationally known to nature lovers, the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park is beautiful at any time of the year. As well as the stunning scenery, the mountain range is adorned by popular Andalusian White Villages which boast a combination of picturesque views, multiple footpaths, tourist information centers, museums, shops, bars, restaurants, hotels, and privately-owned rural accommodation for those seeking more seclusion. There is also the option of Guided wildlife tours in the The Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park.

What is the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park best known for?

Guided wildlife tours in the The Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park
Grazalema poppy – Guided wildlife tours in the The Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park

In a natural park of over 51,000 hectares, how do you know where to go?

Would you prefer to have someone else do the research for you?

Nature Plus – Grazalema” is a friendly nature guiding service that offers tailored 1/2 day or full day routes to individuals or small groups.

This gives you the opportunity to be specific about what you would like to see. Popular requests include; orchids, butterflies, wildflowers, birds, dragonflies, amphibians & reptiles. Also figuring importantly on wish lists are; general nature, mixed habitats & impressive views.

Guided wildlife tours in the The Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park
Spanish ibex – Guided wildlife tours in the The Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park

A major benefit is that you are not being urged to constantly catch up with a large, noisy group. You can relax, take photos and you’ll get to see so much more and at a gentle pace. You’ll also be able to ask questions as we go, as your guide is close by.

Sue Eatock is originally from the UK and has lived in Grazalema since 2005, where she has specialized in the fauna and flora of the area. This is a hobby that has turned into a business, so her passion for the local nature shines through.

Why have a guide at all?

With a guide, you will experience so much more, without having to put in hours of research, carry maps, or worry about the most suitable route.

As an example, let’s imagine for a moment that you would love to see the endemic Grazalema poppy (Papaver rupifragum). Where should you look for it, which month, and what time of day is best? This is when a local guide is a huge asset, taking you to exactly the right place.

If you are exploring the area over a few days, one day out with a guide will show you what to look for, where, and help you to identify what you are seeing.

Guided wildlife tours in the The Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park
Guided wildlife tours in the The Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park

Find out more about Sue and what Nature plus – Grazalema can do to help you get the best out of a visit to the Sierra de Grazalema here: https://wildsideholidays.co.uk/nature-plus-grazalema/


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/

Ten of the best natural parks to observe birds and wildlife in Spain

Spain has to rate as one of the best countries in in Europe for bird and wildlife watching. A destination with over 15 million hectares of protected areas and natural parks plus Spain is a strategic location on the avian migratory routes between Europe to Africa

Spain hosts huge forests and rocky mountain peaks where large birds of prey soar freely. There are wetlands where waterfowl find their home. Hundreds of nature parks and nature reserves teeming with birds and other wildlife.

If you need a bucket list for Spain then here is my top 10 for bird and wildlife watching in Spain. I have visited them all and would gladly return many times to all of them!

Just click the name of the park to find out much more information.

Cabañeros National Park, Ciudad Real (Castilla la Mancha)

The Cabañeros National Park (in Spanish: Parque Nacional de Cabañeros) is a NATIONAL park and is located within the two provinces of Ciudad Real andToledo
The Cabañeros National Park (in Spanish: Parque Nacional de Cabañeros) is a NATIONAL park and is located within the two provinces of Ciudad Real andToledo

Cabañeros is considered a Special Protection Area for Birds and is protected within the framework of the Natura 2000 Network. Famous for black vulture, griffon vulture, Iberian imperial eagle, Bonnelli’s eagle and black stork. With summer residents this park teems with birdlife.


Monfragüe National Park, Cáceres (Extremadura)

The area of Monfragüe National Park is noted for its importance as a breeding area for a selection of rare and protected birds,
The area of Monfragüe National Park is noted for its importance as a breeding area for a selection of rare and protected birds,

Monfragüe is, without a doubt, one of the best places in Spain for bird watching and especially for birds of prey. Every year this area also hosts the International Ornithological Tourism Fair, which attracts bird lovers from all over the world. Top of the list here is black stork, griffon vulture, imperial eagle, eagle owl, Egyptian vulture and short-toed eagle.


Atlantic Islands National Park (Galicia)

The Islas Atlánticas National Park are known in English as the Galician Atlantic Islands Maritime-Terrestrial National Park.
The Islas Atlánticas National Park are known in English as the Galician Atlantic Islands Maritime-Terrestrial National Park.

A Special Protection Area for birds. And, although there are many species, this national park can boast of being home to the largest colonies of shag and yellow-legged gull in the entire country. The park has strategically located hides.


Doñana National Park, Huelva and Seville (Andalucia)

The Doñana National and Natural Parks occupy the northern area of the Guadalquivir river where it meets the Atlantic Ocean
The Doñana National and Natural Parks occupy the northern area of the Guadalquivir river where it meets the Atlantic Ocean

The Doñana National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and there are more than 300 species listed. Some are sedentary and others migratory so the time of year greatly influences what species you will see. In spring there are organized visits and every year the International Bird Fair of Doñana is held. The ecosystems are varied between dunes and marshes and it is home to black storks, flamingos, purple herons, coots, bee-eaters and a seemingly endless number of different birds.


The Gallocanta Lagoon, Zaragoza and Teruel (Aragon)

Gallocanta laguna in Aragon, Spain
De Secretaria – http://www.xiloca.com/xilocapedia/index.php/Imagen:Atardecer_6_Gallocanta.jpg, CC BY 3.0 es, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19561884

The Gallocanta Lagoon is around 1,000 meters above sea level and is one of the most important saline lakes in Western Europe. This lake is on the migratory route for the common crane. October / November and February / March are the best times to visit this area. Guided tours of the nature reserve are also organized from the Gallocanta Lagoon Interpretation Center.


Hoces del Duratón Natural Park, Segovia (Castille y Leon)

Hoces del Rio Duratón Natural Park Parque Natural de las Hoces del Río Duratón is a natural park close to the town of Sepúlveda in the province of Segovia
Hoces del Rio Duratón Natural Park Parque Natural de las Hoces del Río Duratón is a natural park close to the town of Sepúlveda in the province of Segovia

The gorges of the Duratón river are home to one of the largest population of griffon vultures in Europe. Canoe trips here are a great way to get a bit closer to the wildlife of the area.


Ebro Delta Natural Park, Tarragona (Catalonia)

The Parque natural del Delta del Ebro holds a great importance internationally as more than 300 species of birds
The Parque natural del Delta del Ebro holds a great importance internationally as more than 300 species of birds

An absolute biological jewel and the most important wetland in Catalonia. Famous for its large and permanent colony of flamingos plus an excellent number of aquatic birds totaling more than 325 species


Marismas de Santoña, Victoria and Joyel Natural Park (Cantabria)

Marismas de Santoña, Victoria y Joyel Natural Park
Marismas de Santoña, Victoria y Joyel Natural Park

This Cantabrian natural park is considered one of the places with a huge biological diversity containing around 120 different species including grebes, cormorants, herons, loons, terns, ospreys, coots and white storks.


Lagunas de Villafáfila Nature Reserve, Zamora (Castille y Leon)

Reserva Natural de Lagunas de Villafáfila
Reserva Natural de Lagunas de Villafáfila

The best time to visit the Villafáfila Lagoons is in winter or spring. This is an area of ​​special protection for birds that make their home in the wetlands amongst the arable farmland. There are several viewpoints and hides. Grebe, white stork an cranes can be seen but the area is famous for the geese that use the area as a rest stop during their winter migration.


L’Albufera Natural Park (Valencia)

Albufera natural park - Valencia
Albufera natural park – Valencia

L’Albufera holds a great variety of aquatic birds. Its shores are protected for nesting and shelter for birds and the best months to find them are May, June, July, November, December and January. Look out for European rail, Purple galinule, common tern and black-footed tern.


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!

http://wildsideholidays.co.uk/

El Aljibe Botanic Gardens in Alcalá de los Gazules

Part of a network of Botanic Gardens in Andalusia and aimed at preserving the local endemic flora, El Aljibe Botanic Gardens in Alcalá de los Gazules specialises in the plant-life within the Los Alcornocales Natural Park.

This is a small but very informative botanic garden covering about one hectare on the western edge of the Los Alcornocales oak forest easily accessed from the newly upgraded A381 dual carriageway. The gardens, which were begun in 2003 and inaugurated in July 2008, are well labelled with information not just about the plants but also the rock structures and terrain/habitat that support them.

These gardens are characterised by the sandstone terrain of their namesake, El Aljibe, which is the highest peak in the Los Alcornocales parkland. The vegetation is verdant due to the rainfall and fog created by its proximity to the Mediterranean sea and Atlantic ocean and by the mild winter temperatures.

Aljilbe botanic garden in Alcala de los Gazules
Informative maps in the Aljilbe botanic garden in Alcala de los Gazules

The layout of the gardens makes good use of a small area by curving the paths which are screened from each other by the trees. A water way dissects this to represent the steep v shaped ‘Canutos’ that these oak forests are famed for. The pathways of stone or wood are well laid and only gently sloped, allowing for an easy amble that demonstrates the different zones of the area.

Map boards explain the overall layout, with smaller signs giving more detailed information on particular vegetation types. (In Spanish)

Signs are very informative with scientific names allowing you to identify a plant then look it up later on Google :)
The yellow spot means that the plant is not endangered.

Most of the plants have signs which give scientific species name, inc sub-species, family, common Spanish name, its distribution and also if it is in endanger of extinction. The latter is shown in the form of a coloured spot, Red Yellow or Green.

The gardens collect plants or seeds from the local habitat concentrating on the emblematic and those most endangered to aid in their preservation.

The botanic gardens network aims to raise awareness in youngsters by holding educational fun days and also ‘introduction to botany’ days for adults.

El Aljibe’ contains around 185 trees and shrubs protected by law, some of which are included in the “Lista Roja de la Flora vascular de Andalucía”, Red list of endangered vascular plants of Andalusia. There are 300 different species of perennials and the range will continue to expand. Some of the plant species that are most noteworthy within this area are Cork Oak (Quercus suber), Pyrenean Oak (Quercus pyrenaica), Portuguese Oak (Quercus lusitanica), Canary Island Oak (Quercus canariensis), Alder buckthorn (Frangula alnus subsp baetica), Gorse species Stauracanthus boivinii, Whisk Fern (Psilotum nudum), a European Tree Fern Culcita macrocarpa and Diplazium caudatum.

Signs are very informative with scientific names allowing you to identify a plant then look it up later on Google :)
Signs are very informative with scientific names allowing you to identify a plant then look it up later on Google 🙂

The botanic gardens are fronted by the ‘Los Alcornocales visitors centre’ containing shop, restaurant and study rooms. Access is through the quadrangle behind the main building. (On my last visit the information centre, café etc were closed but I was still able to access the gardens)

Entrance Free is free

Getting to El Aljibe Botanic Gardens in Alcalá de los Gazules

Take the exit at kilometre 42 on the A-381 dual-carriageway (Jerez to Los Barrios) sign posted as Alcalá de los Gazules / Benalup-Casas Viejas.

El Aljibe Botanic Gardens inAlcalá de los Gazules is behind the natural Park information centre
El Aljibe Botanic Gardens inAlcalá de los Gazules is behind the natural Park information centre

Drive towards Benalup for 1km and the gardens are behind the “Centro de visitantes del Parque Natural de los Alcornocales” The visitors centre for the Los Alcornocales Natural Park.


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.

http://grazalemaguide.com/