Category Archives: National parks in Castilla la Mancha

Castilla-La Mancha is a region located in the central part of Spain, known for its breathtaking natural landscapes and rich cultural heritage. The region has several national parks, which are preserved areas of natural beauty and protected wildlife. National parks in Castilla la Mancha

One of the most famous national parks in Castilla-La Mancha is the Cabañeros National Park, which covers parts of Toledo and Ciudad Real provinces. This park is characterized by its stunning Mediterranean forests and is home to a variety of unique wildlife, including the Iberian lynx, the Spanish imperial eagle, and the black vulture. Visitors can explore the park by hiking or taking guided tours to observe the natural beauty of the area and spot some of the rare species that inhabit it.

Another national park in Castilla-La Mancha is the Tablas de Daimiel National Park, located in the province of Ciudad Real. This park is a wetland area with lagoons, marshes, and reed beds that are home to several species of waterbirds, including the white-headed duck, the purple heron, and the common pochard. Visitors can take boat tours to observe the wildlife or hike along the nature trails to enjoy the park’s natural beauty.

The Iberian highlands rewilding project

Rewilding is the process of restoring and protecting natural ecosystems by allowing them to develop and function without human intervention. This can include reintroducing native species to an area, removing invasive species, and protecting large wilderness areas. The goal of rewilding is to create resilient and self-sustaining ecosystems that can support a diverse array of plant and animal life.

The Iberian highlands rewilding project looks really interesting.
Continue reading The Iberian highlands rewilding project

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)

Continue reading Cabañeros National Park

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 habitat will remain protected for many more years to come.

That said, in July 2022 the water covered area stands at less than 3 percent of the protected area which is below 50 hectares of the more than 3000 hectare national park. Guided visits have stopped and the information centre was closed when I visited. The drought and heat of the 2022 summer surely has some effect but I still maintain that mismanagement of the tablas de Daimiel national park over the last few decades is to blame.

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 advertised on the official website for the natural park as 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. (However, I visited this area in July of 2022 to find no staff, locked doors and empty carparks.)

Tablas de Daimiel National Park
Tablas de Daimiel National Park Offices and information centre (July 2022)

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.