Category Archives: National parks in Castilla la Mancha

Tablas de Daimiel National Park

  • Region: Castilla la Mancha
  • Province: Ciudad real
  • Nearby towns and villages: Daimiel and Torralba de Calatrava
  • Declared a National Park: 1973
  • Park surface area: 3,030 hectares

Points of interest

The Tablas de Daimiel National Park is one of the most visited in Spain with an average of almost 200,000 people registered each year. The wetland represents one of the last ecosystems of fluvial tables that are formed when rivers overflow onto areas of flat landscape.

Formed at the confluence of the Guadiana River and its tributary the Cigüela this is one of the most important aquatic ecosystems in the Iberian Peninsula and is home to a great variety of fauna and flora especially aquatic birds both resident and migratory.

Threats to the future of the Tablas de Daimiel National Park

This park has suffered greatly from both natural and human causes. The drought years of the first decade of 2000 coupled with illegal water extraction (from as early as the 1970s) caused the levels of the wetland to lower dramatically and this in turn dried out the underlying peat bogs which then caught fire. The peat bogs are an important part of the wetlands as they act as a sealant stopping the water from being absorbed into the ground. UNESCO were at the point of removing the biosphere reserve status from the area and the situation almost caused the first National park to be stripped of its title in Spain.

However, at the same time as the plan to redirect water from the river Tagus was implemeted, the drought broke, the rains came and the wetlands were saved. The expanding water extinquished the peat bog fires and the recovery of the ecosystem began.

The laws covering water extraction in the area are now more tightly regulated so hopefully the habita will remain protected for many more years to come.

The Tablas de Daimiel are formed by the waters of two rivers of different nature. The water of the Gigüela river that comes from the Cabrejas moors in the Cuenca mountain range provides brackish (salty) waters, while the Guadiana river provides fresh sweet water.

Find a hotel close to the Tablas de Daimiel National Park


The fresh water of the Guadiana favors the growth of reed marshes (Phragmites australis, Phragmites communis) while the brackish water of the Cigüela favors the growth of marsh vegetation, mainly the sedge swamp sawgrass (Cladium mariscus). In the shallower areas there are large groups of cattails (Typha sp), bulrush (Scirpus lacustris), saltmarsh bulrush (Scirpus maritimus ) and reeds (Juncus sp).

One of the most characteristic formations of the national park are the carophyte meadows which are made up of different species green algae (Chara hispida , Chara major , Chara canescens). The tamarix (Tamarix gallica) is the only tree species found within the wetland.


Among the birdlife

Purple heron (Ardea purpurea), grey heron (Ardea cinerea), egret (Egretta garzetta), black-crowned night heron (Nycticorax nycticorax), bittern (Botaurus stellaris),red-crested pochard (Netta rufina) shoveler (Anas clypeata), wigeon (Anas penelope), northern pintail (Anas acuta), teal (Anas crecca), little grebe (Podiceps auritus), the black-necked grebe (Podiceps nigricollis ) and stilt (Himantopus himantopus),.

Also worth mentioning are marsh harrier (Circus aeruginosus), common coot (Fulica atra), moorhen (Gallinula chloropus), mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) and kingfisher (Alcedo atthis).

Among the sedentary fauna it is worth mentioning the river crab (Austropotamobius pallipes). Once very abundant and an important source of food and income for the families of Daimiel it has been harvested almost to extintion in the area and is also predated on by the introduced pike (Esox lucius).

Native species such as barbel (Barbus barbus ) and the European chub (Squalius cephalus) are also endagered but present in the area.

In spring and summer you can find amphibians and reptiles such as the tree frog (Hyla arborea), common frog (Rana perezi), Iberian spiny toad (Bufo spinosus), salamander (Salamandra salamandra) and snakes like the viperine (Natrix maura) and grasssnake (Natrix natrix) .

Mammals include the polecat (Mustela putorius), fox (Vulpes vulpes), otter (Lutra lutra), water rat (Arvicola sapidus), as well as those that live nearby fields and woodlands such as rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus), hares (Lepus capensis), weasels (Mustela nivalis) and Iberian wild boars (Sus scrofa).

Wild boar damaging wetland ecosystems

A recent survey (2021) studying the impact of Iberian wild boar in the Tablas de Daimiel National Park has come to the conclusion that the population causes a serious threat to the ecosystem and threatens the reproductive success of aquatic birdlife in the area.

Read more here:

Information/Visitors Centers

Tablas de Daimiel National Park interpretation centre

On the road from the village of Daimiel to the Tablas de Daimiel

This centre has plenty of information designed to help identify the birds and plants of the park, through photographic panels with information, aquariums, exhibition of animal and plant remains, etc. There is an audio visual room with a presentation of the area and the staff will help greatly.

The Center is open every day of the year, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. in winter and from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. in summer.

The Molemocho Mill

The Molemocho Mill is located where the Guadiana River feeds into the wetland about 800 meters before reaching the main Visitor Center of the National Park (it is well signposted) and is well worth the visit!

This unique building is one of the oldest hydraulic flour mills in Castilla La Mancha. The exact date of its construction is unknown but Molemocho is mentioned in maps and registers as far back as 1575.

The fascinating exhibitions focus on the wetlands history and the human inhabitants of the area.

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.

Cabañeros National Park

  • 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)

Find a hotel in the Cabañeros National Park

Towns and villages in the park area

Toledo province:

  • Los Navalucillos, )Also has three hamlets: Valdeazores, Los Alares y Robledo del Buey).
  • Hontanar.

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).


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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